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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Preview: Peterborough Half Iron Swim/Bike

Swim: 2000m
Bike: 90k
Run: None!

I want the opportunity to race, and especially get my confidence back on the bike after my trouble at the Muskoka Tri.

But I don't want to have to recover from an entire half Iron distance race, especially the beating my legs would take over the marathon distance. That could impact my training for weeks after.

Solution: Swim/Bike

This option is nice for people like myself who need long race experience but can't afford the recovery time. Ironman Canada is less than two months away. A long swim and 90k bike will hit the spot!

I don't know a lot about this race yet, other than it can be very hot and sunny, but seeing as I'm not doing the run that doesn't concern me all that much.


  • Comfortable swim, hoping to get closer to the 45-50 minute range for the 2000m, which is where my pool pace suggests I should be
  • Strong on the bike, leave nothing out there. I would like to see 30km/h but I honestly don't know enough about the course to know if this is reasonable
It's going to be a bit weird not crossing a finish line... you basically finish the bike and stop. I might bring my run stuff and go for an unofficial off-course run anyway, make a brick out of it and get the extra transition experience.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Race Report: Muskoka Triathlon (Long Course)

I was overdue for a disaster race, and today was it.

2000m, 55k bike, 15k run. I had this as a “B” race, I didn't taper for it but was still hoping to do well. My goal was really to learn and hopefully gain some confidence for Ironman.

I learned, but not the easy way!

The Preparation

We were warned by organizers that the water for the swim was so cold they were considering shortening it. I didn't think the temperatures they were talking about were too bad (60F) but figured I'd double up the swim cap just to be safe.

Other than that, I didn't deviate much from my usual CHECKLIST.

On the way to set up my transition area, I accidentally got my wetsuit bag caught in the spokes of my bike... while I was riding it. This was a stupid thing to do, I almost wiped out. The brakes started rubbing the rim, I straightened them, tested it, seemed OK... more on this later.

Set up transition and walked over to the swim start. Struggled my way into my wetsuit and was ready to rock! The water wasn't really that cold, and it was very calm, so I was cautiously optimistic that this would go well.

The Swim

If you mapped my swim it would look like one of those Jeffy cartoons from Family Circus... I was all over the place. I started back on the outside knowing I was one of the weaker swimmers. But where I really got confused was when we went from the lake to the river.

I thought you had to keep the buoys to one side or the other, and out in the lake it was buoys to the left. But the river was very not straigh so that no longer made sense... and the people were all over the place. I assume they took the straightest shortest route... I sure didn't! Not sure what my final distance was but it was well north of 2000m.

My swim time was horrendous – way off my pool pace - but it felt pretty OK. I was comfortable at least, not panicky, and got through it. I think the extra distance was a factor, but I was expecting to be in the bottom 10-15% and I'm quite firmly in the bottom!

Swim time: 56:45 (2:51/100m) 645/672

The Bike

The course was beautiful, the hills were fine, it was an excellent bike course.

But this is where things got weird.

Cycling is my strength. And at the start of the bike, despite feeling pretty bagged from the swim, I was picking people off and moving well.

But at some point it changed. I was getting picked off. I was struggling for pace, I was sluggish getting up hills, I just couldn't figure it out. Something in the back of my mind told me to stop and check my front brake from earlier, but stupidly I ignored myself. I figured I was just tired from the swim, or that the hills were worse than they looked...

It wasn't until after the race that I figured it out. I went to roll my bike out of transition and the front wheel wasn't moving.

I have no idea what my bike pace could have been. All I know is I finished the bike feeling dogged with an average speed that wasn't up to snuff. How I finished ahead of 222 people is beyond me!

Bike time: 1:56:34 (28.3km/h) 450/672

The Run

The run course wasn't as scenic as the bike, but I love the finish line. I can't wait to cross it next year after a successful race!

After my struggles on the bike, I had nothing left for the run. Of course I didn't realize I had a problem with the bike, so I let it really mess with my head... I just had no gas, and started to wonder how on earth I would do Ironman if I couldn't even get through this shorter race without suffering!

I drank as much Gatorade as my stomach would allow at the aid stations and took my walk breaks. I abandoned my goal pace before I hit the 2k marker. And by the end I didn't even do my finishing kick, I just trotted across the line and finished in disgust.

Run time: 1:30:34 (6:03/km) 531/672

Overall time: 4:30:18 50/54 in Men30-34 and 550/672 overall.


What can I say... disaster start to finish.

I should have been more diligent in understanding how the swim course worked. If I had taken the shortest path through the river section I'd have done much better. Even so, my pace isn't up to snuff, I need to do more work in open water to catch up to my pool pace.

The bike – not sure what to say about it, I thought I'd checked my equipment and it was working, but when I squeezed my brakes it must have started rubbing again. When things aren't going well, sometimes it's better to stop and figure it out rather than push through it assuming it's in the legs I guess. I don't know, just unfortunate.

I really want to do this race again next year, it was an amazing venue and very well organized.

Oh well, on to the next one!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ride Report: Ride for Heart

This morning my 5-year-old daughter and I took part in the Ride for Heart.

It takes place annually in Toronto as a fundraiser for the Heart & Stroke Foundation. Two major highways are closed to traffic and 13,000 cyclists take over, winding through downtown Toronto then up the Don Valley. Very neat event. I've been riding it ever since I moved here in 1998, I think I've only missed one in 10 years.

Last year, I rode with my older daughter, so this time it was her younger sister's turn. Armed with the trail-behind bike, we pounded out a fast 25k with a brief stop for bananas and Sharkies at the half-way point! Gotta teach them endurance nutrition early! :)

The rain held off and we had a great day. She loved seeing the CN tower and Rogers Center from the top of the Gardiner, and really loved the cheering crowd at the finish line! And daddy got in a pretty decent workout, I pushed as hard as I would on a 1 hour training ride. The extra weight of the hybrid and the trailer with the 5 year old was good power mileage! And I don't care who you are - picking off dudes on Cervelos when you're pulling a kid behind you is good for the ego (even if they are probably doing the longer distance!).

I hope my daughter picks up a love of cycling, but even if she doesn't at least I'm giving her every opportunity to see what it's about.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Preview: Muskoka Triathlon (Long Course)

Next weekend I'll be doing the Muskoka Triathlon (Long Course)

2000m swim
55k bike
15k run


This race has more emphasis on the swim than most triathlons, usually a bike and run that long would be matched with a shorter swim.

As preparation, I went out with the local triathlon club for an open-water swim in Lake Simcoe. It was a short swim, water was a bit cold and very choppy. I'm hoping the conditions are better next Sunday, as it was very hard to get into a rhythm when every second breath gets a mouthful of cold water!

Goal: sub-50:00 swim, save enough energy for the bike


55k isn't a challenging distance so it's all about speed. I managed a 30km/h average today over 50k with a medium-hard effort over fairly hilly terrain and strong wind. I know this course is quite hilly, so I'm expecting a lot of tough climbs and recoveries.

Goal: get close to 30km/h, save something (what?) for the run


If there's one thing I've learned from previous tris is this:

Running after swimming and biking is hard.

15K on its own would be a nice run, 15k after you've pushed even a little for 2+ hours before it is going to be tough. My overall time for this tri will be around what it took me to run my full marathon, so I'm going to start around that pace (~5:40/km) on the run and see how it goes. If I find I have more energy I'll pick it up.

The Fuel

A gel before the swim, and then Gatorade and gels to the end. I'll target 300kcal/hour on the bike, that's worked for me well in training. And I'll play it by ear on the run, probably all Gatorade by that point.

The Goal

Realistically I see myself in the 4h-4h15 range. That puts me pretty far back in last year's times, but this race draws a lot of great triathletes (it's an Ironman qualifier!)

Swim: 45-50 mins (based on pool pace - wetsuit helps, open water hinders, so who knows)
Bike: 1h50-2h00 (@30km/h or slightly less)
Run: 1h20-1h30 (@5:30/km or so)

Add in transitions and I'm guessing a 4h11 finish. That's more of a guess than a goal, all I really want to get out of this race is experience.