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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Race Preview: Peterborough Sprint Triathlon

The Race

Peterborough Triathlon.  Two main options are the half Iron distance and the Sprint.

This race is part of the Subaru Triathlon Series in Ontario.

Sprint?  Why not the Half Iron?

I have been neglecting triathlon.

I went to the pool for the first time in 4 months the other day.  My aero bars are collecting dust on the shelf.  I've just been having too much fun doing off-road stuff, and when you're having fun getting healthy it's best to keep doing what you're doing!

I have a off-road triathlon coming up in August, so I need to get back into swimming and remember how the whole transition thing goes.  So this race is about getting sharp and back into that triathlon mindset.  Swim, transition, bike, transition, run.  Got it!

This Race...

Honestly, I don't really like it that much... although they've changed the course since I last did it (2009), it's still in the searing July heat!  Not much they can do about that.  I'll report back on the new bike course, but the map looks pretty ... straight.

My Goal

Not suck too bad at the swim (always a challenge for me!), have reasonable transitions, hammer the bike and smoke the run!  Oh and don't melt.

Back in the Pool

Secret triathlete confession: I haven't been swimming.  The closest I've been to a pool in 4 months is taking my kids to their swim lessons.

I wasn't enjoying the trudge to the pool or the monotony of doing laps without seeing much improvement... and without any substantial triathlon goals this year, I decided it was a good time to just take a break from it and reset.

But I'm planning to do the Mine over Matter off-road triathlon, so I need to get back to it...

Back to the pool!  I retained most of my form (unfortunately - my form is terrible!) but lost a fair bit of my muscle fitness.  My triceps, shoulder and back were all a bit sore after my first swim.  Yesterday was my 2nd swim back, I managed to do 400m straight again without any trouble.  So I'm back!

The break did me some good, I felt like I was able to break some old habits and really think through my stroke again.

I've signed up for the Peterborough Sprint Triathlon in a few weeks as a refresher for triathlon.  The swim is only 750m so shouldn't be any trouble, but I won't be setting any records... just get through it and hammer the bike!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Race Report: Moraine Adventure Relay 2011

This race is amazing!
14 stages - 1 canoe, 6 bike, and 7 runs. You can bring anything from a team of 15 (2 for canoe) or a team of 2 - you just need someone for every stage, and any member can do as many stages as they want. It covers 160km of Oak Ridges Moraine from Rice Lake to Aurora!

This year there were around 30 teams ready to rock it out. Our team was "Blood of the Ridge"... we were "Trail Pythons" last year, but needed a new name to reflect our being ready for battle this year!!! :)

The Canoe

This year we recruited some very experienced canoeists to compliment our effort, and as luck would have it they were fast and great guys too! :) They started in the 2nd wave and overtook all but 2 boats from the first wave... they almost certainly had the fastest time on the water. We were off to a great start!

Ganaraska Forest

This area is beautiful but very sandy. It starts with a long mountain bike that fast riders do in about an hour, but the sand takes a lot out of you. It's followed by two runs that are also quite sandy. We had some navigational challenges and by the time we exited the forest we were down in 7th or 8th... that's the nature of this kind of race, a few mistakes can really nail you.

Another run and Long Sault

After one more run leaving Ganaraska, we finally transitioned to the bike stages. This is our real strength as myself and one other guy are solid cyclists, we can finish in the top handful on all of these stages and we pretty much did. We flew through Long Sault and the next very sandy (again!) bike stage, then I nailed down a nice fast ride on my cyclocross bike on a mostly road stage to get us to Durham Forest in pretty good shape!

Durham Forest and beyond

The run through Durham Forest is hilly and scenic, really beautiful wilderness. We had a few more navigational issues but our runner still held his own and turned in a decent time. Things were looking up! I then did my first run of the day through Stage 10... this one has to be the toughest run, it's the longest at 11km, the hills are steep, and the trail goes from pretty good to downright awful by the end... trudging through a marsh and tip-toeing across rotting bridges - ouch! 

Musselman Lake and York Regional Forest

After this we hit a bike stage, which my buddy nailed. Then it's a trail run through the really wonderful York Regional Forest - anyone who lives in Markham or Aurora should really check it out, it's very nice in there. Then it was my turn to shine - I absolutely smoked the next bike stage thanks to my cyclocross bike and experience of having done the stage before! It was my forth stage of the day (had to fill in for a teammate who had a family emergency) so I was a bit tired, but since I had nothing left to do after it was just put the hammer down and suck it up time! Flew through the forest, then hammered it on the roads, I'll be disappointed if I'm not the #1 time on that stage - it really was my best!

The Finish

The last stage is mostly on roads with a bit of trail at the end... and then finally, the finish! Oh glorious finish.

Final results - although we crossed the line 5th, teams rested enough between stages that in the final accounting we ended up 7th... but our time (11:28) is over 2 hours ahead of last year (13:31).  It's a bit disappointing, but the good news is we won two stages!  Our canoe team was the fastest, and one of my bike stages was #1 as well.  We had a couple of 3rd place finishes and a few top 5's, so we really had some solid efforts.  We fell short of the goal of finishing top 5, but we demonstrated the pace to pull it off... so I'm encouraged for next year.

Now accepting applications for 2012!!! :D Seriously, if anyone is interested in joining our team we could use the help! Or if you want any advice or have questions about forming your own team, fire away. It's an awesome event that I can't recommend highly enough - great organizers, great volunteers, wonderful.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Race Preview: Moraine for Life Adventure Relay 2011

This is such a great event! 

Canoe.  Bike.  Run.  160km total split into 14 stages.  Teams of up to 15 people... and all of it set in the beautiful Oak Ridges Moraine, a huge swath of wilderness across the top of Canada's biggest city.

Race website

We did this in 2010 as the "Trail Pythons", mostly just to explore it and see what it was all about.  This year we're taking what we learned and we've put together a more competitive team, "Blood of the Ridge" (woooo, scary!).  Hopefully this will translate into a better result (and we won't finish in the dark!).

We have 8 team members this year, which is pretty much ideal.  Each of us are doing 1-3 stages.  I'm doing 2 bikes and 1 run, which is about the limit without starting to get a pretty good drop-off in performance.  We have an excellent canoe pairing and we've recruited an additional cyclist so we don't have to force runners to bike... all of which has me confident we'll be fast!  I'd love to see us in the top 5... or higher? 

If you're thinking of doing this race next year...

... do it!  It's awesome.

The biggest challenge isn't out on the course, it's organizing the team.  Finding a group of committed people who are going to come through is not easy, then you have to figure out stage assignments while dealing with everyone schedules and strengths.  You get to play accountant and try collect the entry fees, and of course every stage is point-to-point, so you have to figure out transportation of people and vehicles.  Somehow in all of that, we managed to have people ready to go at every stage last year - hopefully this year we can pull it off again!

See you on the Moraine.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ride Report: Ride for Heart 2011

Loved it!  Beautiful weather, the sun was shining, my daughter rocked it out...

We did the 50km.  She's 8 now, so pedaled a lot more than the first time we did it together 3 years ago when she was only 5!  I'm one proud papa, she did great, no complaints during the 2 hour ride.

Best of all, her comment: "Next time let's do the 75km, 50km is too short!"  That's my girl!!!

Next year it's my younger daughter's turn - we did it once before and she's just as eager and ready to rock.  Can't wait!