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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Speed Workouts and the FIRST (3Plus2) Plan

I'm getting ready to start full-throttle on the 3Plus2 (FIRST) plan.

When I plugged in my goal marathon time (3:35:00) the speed workouts it gave me seemed a bit pokey.  I'd been doing my speedwork at 4:00/km last year (for 5x1000m), and did a 20:05 5k... it was suggesting 4:06/km for 4x800m!  Seemed slow.

But seems like the extra few pounds I'm carrying around (plus Christmas gorging!) have made those paces a wee bit tougher than I thought.

Today I did 4x800 @ 4:06/km with 2:00 rests.  I got through them all and kept the pace to the last one, but much more of a struggle than I'd have guessed.

Split 1: 4:02/km, 181bpm max
Split 2: 4:07/km, 185bpm max
Split 3: 4:04/km, 186bpm max
Split 4: 406/km, 189bpm max

The 2:00 rests felt pretty short, despite knocking my pace wayyy back to a slow jog (6:30/km+).  These were my first track intervals in a long time, though, so that's probably to be expected, body needs to adjust to it again.

Ultimately the main thing I need to focus on beyond paces and such is my weight.  I want to race in the low 170's, I'm about 10 pounds from that (and 4 months to race day).  Pretty sure I can knock off a pound a week without too much trouble, especially with 5 workouts a week, but I really need to focus on that.

First week of "real" training starts Monday!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

3plus2 Marathon Training (aka FIRST)

The Plan

The Furham FIRST Training Plan.  Popularized in the book "Run Less, Run Faster" and lots of favourable press in Runner's World.

The plan is quite simple:
- 3 quality runs per week
- 2 cardio cross-training workouts per week (NOT running)

(I hate the name of this book, though... you may run less, but you don't workout less, and the higher intensity should make it no walk in the park!)

Is it Better?

There is evidence that people improve on the plan.  However most of these people didn't follow a very solid plan beforehand... so all that tells me is that quality runs create quality runners, even on less mileage.

But - there isn't really any evidence that it is superior to an all-running plan that also emphasizes quality.  That may produce even better results, but they haven't really compared them in studies yet.

For me, as a cyclist and occasional triathlete, it's very appealing.  It means I can spend my winter doing a lot of good running without abandoning my bike.  I've basically done this before (carried over triathlon/multisport training into marathons) but not with a real plan or this much focus, so I'm cautiously optimistic this will hit the spot and I should see some solid improvements!

My Plan

I am trying my best not to augment the plan too much, but there are a few races I have planned and I just want to make sure everything jives together.  I am adding one week to the plan for that, and slightly shifting a few other things, but very close to the original (95%).

The other aspect of it is that by week 4 they have a 32km run planned.  It's at a slow LSD pace, but I'm not there yet, so before diving in I am working on establishing a decent base.  I was doing 20km+ just a few weeks ago, so it shouldn't be too problematic, and I still have a few weeks.


Their definition is very broad.  Anything cardio pretty much counts... swimming and biking are my main options.  I'm a little concerned that biking uses similar enough muscles that if I go really intense it would impact the runs, so I will keep the intensity in check.

Training Paces

This is where I am having some difficulty...

The book suggests certain paces based on a goal time.  Except it also suggests a goal time based on 5k pace.

My 5k pace predicts a time quite a bit quicker than my marathon experience suggests, so I'm going to go with what I think is reasonable for the marathon.  But this messes up some of the paces for the speed workouts... they seem slow for me.  (Edit: tried first work-out, NOT TOO SLOW!  I'm good, I'll go with the book!)

In the interest of keeping to the plan, I'll stick with the paces the book suggests for my target result (3:35 for a full marathon), but might give those track workouts a little extra mustard.  Really, it's tricky to get the paces just right at the track anyway - 3:55/km vs 4:05/km over 600m isn't a huge difference.  I'd rather be a little quick and closer to pushing that VO2, as long as I can finish the workouts OK.

Target Race: Toronto Marathon

May 5th.  3:35 or bust.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Original Art Featuring ... Me?

This is a commission piece done by Tanya Petruk Artworks of me at Paris to Ancaster!

Those who have done the race may recognize it as the final horrible/wonderful climb to the finish.  This was from the 2011 race, when it snowed and was generally miserable!

Shameless plug... she does commission work, so if you have a photo you'd like to convert into a keepsake painting, feel free to contact her!  It costs less than you might expect.  This one is 8"x10", framed it would run you around $250.

Full disclosure... she happens to be my wife!  Ask for the Marshmallow Discount.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Race Report: Whitby 10 Miler


If you've ever done one of this guy's races, you know it's never quite perfect.  In this case, inexplicably, there was no Gatorade/eLoad/anything.  Just water.

Inexcusible.  It's 16km, runners absolutely expect it.  I paid $50, that should have been good for a few cups of Gatorade.

The same guy organizes a few Whitby races - most notably this one and the "WIN Marathon".  I know a few runners who avoid his races like the plague - I keep going back, figuring after all these years he'd have figured it out.  He hasn't, and likely won't.  So you've been warned.

(I really hate to rag on the local guy, too because I love having local race options... but it's overdue.)

One other thing... there were orange spray-painted kilometer markers that were bang-on, but then there were signs that were for some reason off!  In the end the measure was close for the 10 miler (but way off for the 10km I'm sure - again, why??).  Attention to detail, please!

My Race


1:15.27 (13 of 114 overall, 3/8 age group, 12/44 men)

This race was a spur of the moment decision.  After last week, I wanted to do something... but wasn't sure what.  There was also a cyclocross race just up the road from me that I've done a couple of years in a row (that is awesome)... but my bike is out of commission and I got too lazy to fix it, so the 10 miler it was!

This race is by the water, on the waterfront trail mostly - which is quite lovely, but always windy.  It's also fairly hilly, depending on which direction you go.

In this case - we started out with a 10km out-and-back to the west, which is flat, followed by a 6km out and back to the east which is hilly.

I planned to started out at 4:45/km, figuring no matter how bad things go that was my "worst case scenario" pace.  Last week at the 1/2 marathon from hell, I ended up averaging 5:12/km... so really, it could actually get worse, but I wasn't going to have any of it today!

The first kilometer, though, was net downhill by quite a lot... so I ended up coming up to 1km at 4:14/km.  This was my fastest kilometer of the day... a bit stupid, really, but I immediately backed off and found a more reasonable pace.

Here are all my splits.

1 4:14.8 - net downhill, a bit excited, too fast?
2 4:41.3 -
3 4:44.4
4 4:46.1
5 4:48.2 - slightly uphill, backed off
6 4:39.6 - slightly downhill, enjoyed
7 4:41.8
8 4:38.8        
9 4:45.4 - strong wind by lake        
10 4:53.4 - uphill, windy        
11 4:44.9 - uphill, headwind
12 4:53.1 - uphill, headwind        
13 4:46.6 - downhill, then uphill        
14 4:48.7 - worst hill of race...        
15 4:40.3 - a bit of a hill but started to think of finish...         
16 4:30.6 - kick it!!!  Heart rate topped out at 194bpm...

Average pace: 4:42/km - which on a windy/hilly course I'll take!  Especially after last week.

Average heart rate was pretty high for a 16km... 179bpm.  First 6km or so were in the 170's, rest was 180+, then the 190's over the last kilometer.  Two weeks ago I did a 10km, with an average heart rate of 183bpm, and max of 191bpm... so I think I'm still running a bit high for whatever reason.

Next up... 

... nothing!  Well at least nothing more for 2012, next race will be in 2013.  I need a bit of a break from running, going to take next week completely off before I get back into anything.

Race Preview: Whitby 10 Miler

I decided last night to do this race today.  It was between this and the Durham Cyclocross Classic, also in Whitby, but my bike needs fixing and I was too lazy to do it so...

I did this race years ago, but only the 10km.  It starts somewhere different this year, but still is on the Whitby waterfront.  Presumably it will be a bit hilly but not too horrible (one big hill if it goes the direction I expect).

I am going to be pretty conservative - start out at 4:45/km pace and see where things are at, then pick it up at 5km if things are looking OK.  I am promising myself right now to stick to this for 5km, no matter how it feels!

This is definitely my last race of 2012, so it will either be a dose of redemption or a last kick in the gut.  I'll let you know in a few hours!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dude, Where's My Pace?

Went out for a run today, my first since my disastrous 1/2 marathon.

Today (8km):
Pace: 4:57/km, Avg HR: 162bpm

That's a bit higher than I would normally see at that pace, but consider...

1/2 marathon:
Pace: 5:12/km, Avg HR: 177bpm!

I still haven't been able to pin-point what went wrong... maybe it was just a combination of things.  I haven't felt 100% the last few days, a bit lethargic, so it could just be I'm fighting a bug of some sort.

Don't tell anyone, but I'm thinking of doing a 10 mile race this weekend.  It's local and I'm stupid.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

2012 Racing Year in Review

When I say something is bad or horrible, I mean my performance, not the event itself...

Tough year.  I was due I guess... but between my own injury and family health matters I got a slow start to the season, and nothing really came together for me until very late.

My 2012 Performances
  • Whitby Waterfront Workout (10k) - bad - first race back from injury, did pretty lousy
  • Paris to Ancaster (60k off-road bike) - horrible result... big step back in the overall standings vs previous years... again, injury kept me pretty benched so undertrained
  • TREAD 6 Hour Relay - great, team had fun and did well, things were looking up!
  • Moraine 4 Life Relay - great!  in 3-way tie for the win, we had a great day as a team... my performance wasn't great but not totally off either
  • XC Mansfield Marathon (30k mountain bike) - horrible... DNF'd with a mechanical then suffered badly in the heat when I started the shorter event
  • Muskoka Grind (offroad triathlon) - horrible... my first non-mechanical DNF.  I was sick and shouldn't have even tried...
  • Ride4United Way (160km bike) - OK? I guess... I suffered but finished. 
  • Logs Rocks & Steel (Adventure Race) - awesome!  2nd of the male teams, and for the first time this year, improvement over a previous result.
  • Tour de King - OK... it was a tough day, hit a tree, but had fun and finished not bad
  • Ajax Run the Lake (10k) - Good!  Had a fun tussle for podium spots (which I ultimately lost) and my pace was pretty decent.
  • Downsview 1/2 Marathon - Horrific.  Disappointing.  Worst race I've ever done.
The best races all year were the team ones - partly because they carried me (in the case of the Moraine Relay!) but also because I did really well in them for whatever reason.

No running PBs this year, which can be expected given I had a late start on training.  I thought it would come around in time for that Downsview 1/2, and my training paces leading up to that suggested it had - but race day really disappointed.

Had my first ever DNF - for any reason - followed very shortly by another DNF when I tried a triathlon while still sick. 

So good riddance 2012.

2013... here I come!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Race Report: Downsview 1/2 Marathon

So that was probably my most disappointing race ever...

I have no idea what happened - I was just slow.  Very slow.  Any time I got anywhere close to target race pace, my heart rate went crazy... and my pace for most of the race was a full minute per kilometer higher than what I had targeted.  Something was really, really not right.

I'll get back to that in a bit, but first... the race!

The Race

Downsview 1/2 Marathon.  First time event, and wow did they draw a great crowd!  Almost sold out, and some very nice touches.

The good:

  • Race cap instead of shirt - yay!  I think we all have enough shirts already... but I really nice running cap is always welcome.
  • Personalized race bibs (see picture).  Usually something you get at big marathons, nice!

  • Neat location - Downsview was actually pretty cool, running by the hangers, on the taxiways, and through the little park they have there now
The bad:
  • The aid stations were pretty bad... I hate to rag on volunteers, but there weren't enough of them and they didn't seem to know what they were doing.  At the first one, there was no Gatorade/eLoad... at the next one, there was one volunteer giving it out one cup at a time!  The guy in front of me grabbed that cup, so I had to help myself from the table... not cool!  And the cups I go were so unfilled it would have been comical if it weren't so irritating.  I don't really blame the volunteers, they need to be given clear direction on what to do.
  • The race was advertised as "flat" - but the first and last 4km were anything but.  Rolling hills, some of them pretty steep (and definitely pace-impacting!).  There are certainly better 1/2 courses for a PB, which surprised me - I thought this one was going to be ideal
  • Bathroom line-ups were brutal!  More porta-potties!  Or some trees for the men to pee on.
  • Kilometer markers were way off.  I think the final distance was right, but if you were relying on the km markers for pace, good luck.  19km sign was at 19.5km, most were off by at least a few hundred meters - and then others were bang-on.  A crap-shoot.
So a few things they can improve on.  All in all it was pretty decent, though, I would do it again.

My Race

Horrible.  Confusing.  I have no idea what went so wrong.

I started out near my target pace of 4:30-4:35/km.  Really early on, I noticed my heart rate was quite high - into the 180bpm range.  This is higher than my tempo heart rate normally, so I was a bit confused, but chalked it up to race day nerves or something.

But it didn't come down.  In fact, it went up.  When it hit 185bpm and I was getting to the 6km mark, I knew this just wasn't going to work... I dialed the pace back, but still felt awful.  I felt like I was in full blow-up mode at 7km!  Crazy.

I finally backed waaaaay off, all the way to 5:30/km pace, which is my LSD pace.  Still, my heart rate wouldn't go under 170bpm.  This was really the story to the end, struggling to keep a 5:30/km pace while my heart rate was something I only ever see on tempo runs.


I did a 7km tempo race just this Wednesday...

4:28/km average pace, 168bpm average heart rate

How can I hold 4:28/km over 7km with a heart rate of 168bpm in a training run... but then four days later at the same pace I'm at 185bpm?  And had to slow down to 5:30/km to get back into the 170bpm range???

I'm stumped.  Maybe I'm coming down with something, I don't know.  Just a bad, bad day.

Final result was 1:50+, vs my PB of 1:36... I mean it was just crazy bad.

Kind of par for the course in 2012 for me, so best to just turn the page and look ahead to 2013!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Race Preview: Downsview 1/2 Marathon

This is a new race on the Toronto scene, a half marathon at the Downsview airport.

Race website

Big flat wide-open airport.  Sounds great for a PB.


What I didn't consider when I signed up (back when it was warm) was if it was a cold and windy day, like last weekend...  this could actually be a hellish race, huge wide-open space with nowhere to hide from the elements.

Fortunately it's going to be 15C and Sunny!  In October!  Dodged that bullet.

My Goal

My PB is 1:36, which I did in Whitby last year. 

I was about 10 pounds lighter... but somehow my pace is still pretty close.  It's not impossible, anyway...

So I have 3 pace bands prepared, one for a 4:30/km pace (sub-1:35), one for 4:35/km pace, and one for 4:44/km pace (sub-1:40).  I intend to start out close to the 4:35/km for the first few kilometers, then pick it up to the 4:30/km and see where my heart rate is.  If it all looks and feels OK I will go for it!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Betsy Andreu

You're more likely to find Lance Armstrong than Betsy Andreu if you google for "hero"... but she is clearly the bigger "man" of the two.

She doesn't head up a charity, she doesn't sell bracelets or speak at fundraisers.  But she has far more integrity, and for those looking for role models she should be far higher on the list!

Through everything, her story never changed.  Lance doped.  She had her name dragged through the mud by Lance and his people, she was sued, but she continued to tell the truth about cycling - a truth many didn't want to hear.

I have two girls, and if they grow up to have half the principles and courage of Betsy Andreu I'd be proud!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Race Report: Ajax Run the Lake 10k

Course was pretty much what I'd figured - hilly and stiff cold winds.

My Race

Result was pretty much what I'd figured - 42:42 (although course might have been ~200m short per my GPS?) and around a 4:20/km pace.  Good enough for 5th overall and 4th of the guys.

Had a fun little race with one other guy.  I was by myself up to about the 7km mark, then I noticed I was gaining on someone.  We hit the final turn-around at 7.5km and he saw me... then it was on!

A bunch of rolling hills sat between us and the finish.  I seemed to close the gap on the way up... and down.  This was going to be easy!  But then he'd open it up again when we'd hit a flat.  And so it went until the very last hill when finally I caught and passed him on the descent.

... but there was still 500m to go.  I could hear his footfalls behind me.  I tried to fire up the pace to break his spirit, but he matched me step for step.  I was now under my 5k race pace, into the sub-4:00/km pace zone, which I knew I couldn't hold for long... and he was matching me.  I really needed him to hit his wall!

As the finish came into view, I could hear him start up a finishing kick.  I tried to respond but that took me into a total blow up zone - he breezed by and took it by a few seconds.

So I lost this one - but man was it fun!  And really drove me to finish hard, which was exactly what I needed.

My Whining

The course markings were really off... like waaaaaay off.  The 5km sign was at 4km!  I had no idea how long this race was going to actually be - were the signs where the organizers actually thought 5km was?  If so, was it going to be 1km short?  2km?  Or was the distance right but the signs wrong?

In the end the distance seems to only have been off by about 200m, which is close enough it could have been right and my GPS off a little.  But still - really inexcusable in this day and age to be so wildly off on the kilometer markings - when they're that wrong, it's better to not have them at all.

Anyway, it's a local community fundraiser race, not the NYC marathon, so I won't hold them to toooo high a standard... just irks me.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Race Preview: Ajax Run the Lake 10k

Race website

I am doing this 10km as a tune-up for the 1/2 marathon I have planned next week.

I have never done this race before, but when I have run the Ajax waterfront the experience has been mixed.  It's a nice park area with a great view of the lake, but it's pretty hilly... and the wind can really whip up at times.  Current forecast is for temps just barely above freezing - so it could be crispy!

Current 10km PB: 40:53

Chances I'll set a PB: 0%

My PB is from Sporting Life... net downhill and that particular day there was a great tail-wind!  So a cold November hilly course won't yield the same kind of result... I'm thinking 4:20/km pace is more realistic, works out to about 43:00-43:30 or so.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Got Hit By a Car

Readers of this blog will remember that I was hit by a truck a few years ago.  That was on my bike, and it was no joke - landed me in an ambulance, thankfully without any broken bones (but a mild concussion).

Today it was a car's turn, and on my feet instead of my bike.

4-way stop.  I was running on the sidewalk, paused as I approached.  He stopped, I started going in the crosswalk in front of his car and inexplicably he started going again!  Luckily he hit the brakes just as he hit me, so I fell hands-first onto the hood but didn't take a directly hit to my legs (at least not hard enough to leave a mark).

Younger guy, I ripped a strip out of him then went on my way.  Got his plate, reported it, so life goes on.

Be careful out there!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mountain bike. Fall. Awesome.

I don't have much to say, other than fall mountain biking is amazing. 

Taken this weekend in Durham Forest, Ontario.  See you out there, still a few weeks left to enjoy the awesomeness!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lance - the Final Chapter?

I came to terms with the fact Lance doped a long time ago.  I thought the writing was on the wall back in 2010, and again earlier this year... but the die-hards died hard!

This time, I don't think anyone can doubt it.

USADA has put together a comprehensive case in their "Reasoned Decision".  All of the evidence is great, but the words of the cyclists who were there are the most striking.  If you have any doubt left, flip to the section "Appendicies and Supporting Materials" and read those Affidavids. 

Guys like George Hincape and Michael Barry are not people who were ever caught.  They passed their tests, just like Lance. They have absolutely no reason to come forward - except that the writing was on the wall.

They are part of the solution, and along with the biological passports I think there is reason to believe cycling is getting clean.  Not 100%, but in the right direction.

As for Lance - it really should be over.  He should come clean (so to speak) and do what he can for the sport. 

Sadly, I can't see that happening.

Even without Lance, cycling can move forward.  Hopefully the likes of Bruyneel are swept away and a new era can be ushered in.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Intermittent Fasting - Progress Report

I have been at it for a few weeks now, with some mixed results.

The Program

Eat during an 8 hour window each day, fast for 16 hours.  Repeat.

I chose an 11:30am-7:30pm eating window, so basically I get normal lunch and dinner.  No breakfast and minimal post-dinner snacking.

More details in this blog post.

The Good - Appetite

I used to be hungry all the time - even after a meal.

During intermittent fasting, I've rarely felt hungry, and never any hungrier than usual.  I was expecting to be famished, especially at the end of the 16 hours - but it felt totally normal and natural.

So the big win here is a curbed appetite.  I don't know why - I have to assume it's due to improvements in insulin sensitivity, or maybe it's psychological - but either way this has been much easier to stick to than calorie counting.

The Bad - No Weight Loss

My weight hasn't budged, it's pretty much where it was at the start of this experiment.

Now I have to admit I have not tried even a little to curb my eating during the 8 hour window... it's pretty much been "anything goes".  As I said previously, I haven't felt all that hungry, but during the eating window I respond to even a slight interest in eating by, well, eating!

I am going to bring healthier snacks to work with me (rather than succumbing to the siren song of the Tim Horton's donuts) and cut back a bit on beer/wine, see if it helps this aspect, since it's the main reason I'm doing this at all!

The Good - Energy

I have felt really good, even during work-outs.  Mostly I have timed them to be either in or after my eating period so I'm not energy deprived, but even when they're not I haven't felt bad at all.

The Bad - Carbo Loading...

This isn't really a negative of the fasting, but rather my ability to stick with it... when a race is looming, it has to go out the window for a few days while I carb-up.  I have to think fasting prior to a race would negatively impact glycogen levels in the muscles.

Fortunately I don't do more than a race every month or so, so it shouldn't impact things too badly.


I'm glad I tried it and I'm going to stick with it at least for a few more weeks.  I feel great and it's pretty easy to stick to.  Hopefully the weight loss follows!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Race Report: Tour de King 2012

Fun day!  I think.  Stuff went wrong, a bit went right, and I finished with a smile on my face.

The Start

They neutralized the start, so the first 2km or so were behind a pace car.

We hit the point where the pace car pulled off, and I quickly jumped on a good wheel.  I was glad to have the cross bike to battle the wind when I was pulling, and we were moving really good in some of the groups I found myself in.

This went on for the first 9km, which was great - I was way up with some really good riders, thanks to the bike and some drafting.  This was really the only time when I felt the cross bike was a big advantage.

But then...

Off-road #1

I find this one to be the toughest.  The hills are steep, the trails are grassy and slippery, and it really just cooked me.  The gearing on my bike just isn't suitable for this section - brutal grinding at a low cadence and major lactic acid build-up.

Note to self for 2013 - bring some climbing gears!  That is all.

By the time we hit the road again I was just looking to recover.

On The Road Again

I was labouring, trying to spin and just get in some fluids.  A group caught up to me (including my buddy) so I stuck with them for a bit, started to feel a bit OK.

Nasty Road Allowance Thing

I don't know what you call this... it follows the direction of the road, but a road it is not.  When we did this last year I probably came pretty close to killing myself riding down this crazy trench - this time I walked up it, along with all the folks around me.

Nothing makes you feel lamer than walking your bike, but even the mountain bikes weren't riding this one!

On the Road Again #2

Next up was a pretty short road section between road allowances, and this time the enemy was some very loose gravel on a windy downhill.  I had a few slides that I caught without too much trouble, but people did go down here... it was scary stuff.

Not As Nasty Road Allowance Thing

Next up was a trail section, pretty straight and not too bad.  I was starting to feel a lot better by this point, so was able to push up the little hills and such.

Road #3

I was fast!  Passed a few mountain bikes, had my spin on, it felt great.  Again, one of the few sections where the cross bike paid off...


Off-road #2

This one is a series of real mountain bike trails.  Flowy singletrack with some technical turns and such.

I was doing pretty good, though.  A few mountain bikes caught me and went by, but mostly I held my own.  I was really feeling strong!

Until... I missed a corner and smoked into a tree!  I didn't hit it that hard, but what it hit was my brake caliper... which it pushed into my wheel, which now couldn't spin!  I pulled off to the side (more to the side than the tree!) and tried desperately to free it, but the cable was stuck in there.  Finally I grabbed a branch and pried it loose, and miraculously the wheel actually turned - no permanent damage.  The brakes even worked properly!

Road #4

Hilly, but much nicer in this direction (the opposite of last year's direction).  Again, passed a few of the mountain bike guys that had just passed me, so hit the next off-road feeling pretty OK.

Off-road #3

This is the Seneca property, and the trails aren't as groomed and nice as the previous ones.  Lots of roots and rocks, the odd log, and way more climbing than I remembered.  I had a tough go, started to cramp up a bit, but still managed to keep pace with those around me.  This is definitely the section where the mountain bikes have the advantage - which I had probably put out of my mind by the finish time last year!  It went on and on and I got picked off over and over by mountain bikes.  They can carry much more speed in the corners, and don`t have to be quite as tentative on the downhills.

The Finish

When I saw the 1km to go sign I was a bit surprised... by my watch I figured we had another 10-15 minutes left!  So I started to hammer it.  There was a guy who'd been swapping places with me all day, he was just ahead of me, and if nothing else I wanted to get him!

I hammered it up the grassy knoll that is the end of the race... and pipped him at the line!  Turned around and we both laughed, it was one of those funny moments in a race that make it all worthwhile.


Final result: 105th place of 278 finishers, 2:10:54.  Last year I finished 104th of a bigger field, so definitely not as good.  Wasn't in as good of shape, hit a tree, and the reverse course really didn't play well with my strengths, so all in all a lot of room to improve for 2013.

As for the bike debate (mountain bike vs cyclocross) - well... it's tough.

Last year we started near the back and in offroad, so I had the perception I was keeping up to the mountain bikes.  Truth is, the only ones I was seeing were the ones that were falling back in the race toward me, so they weren`t the best riders.

This year it was the exact opposite - we started closer to the front and on road, so I had a lot of very strong mountain bikers behind me!  That meant when we were off-road I was getting passed a fair bit, and didn`t have as many guys to pass later in the race on-road.

I have to think that the right bike is probably a hardtail 29er... with tires that aren't so gnarly that they suck on the pavement, but have enough grip for the sometimes tricky trail stuff.  They would pay a price on the road sections, but there`s a lot of trail and those road allowances where they make up for it.

I don't have a 29'er, my MTB is a 26'er, so next year I will still do the cyclocross thing, with some bigger cogs on the rear so that first off-road doesn't kill me.  Even if it's not faster, it's a lot of fun!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Ride Report: JDRF 2012


This is a charity ride to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

How fun is it?  Well that depends on how you look at it... the event itself is very energy packed, lots of cheering and loud music, and the money raised goes to a great cause.  And this year - dancing girls!  Yay!

The actual riding... welllll, not so much fun.  6 minutes on a stationary bike trying to do as much distance as possible.  Naturally, you set the tension to the point your knees won't blow off and spin like a gerbil at the highest cadence you can mustre.  I managed about 130-140rpm for the 6 minutes, way faster than I would normally ever pedal... it was dizzying and unpleasant! 

But all for a good cause and the dancing girls made up for it.  You also get a snack after and a free water bottle.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Race Preview: Tour de King 2012

This was a new race on the calendar in 2011.

To quote myself...
I believe I have a new favourite race
I may have been a tad caught up in the moment... but it really was a lot of fun!  A great mix of roads, singletrack, and tough/crazy road allowances.

New Course, Old Course

This year they are using almost the same course... except backwards.  Instead of going west, we're going east.  The crazy downhill in a trench with loose gravel will now be a crazy uphill... should be interesting.

They have also removed one of the off-road sections that was on private land, so there is now a very long section from the start of the race to almost halfway that will be on-road.  This will really change the dynamic of things, it will be more of a bunch/pack race for a long time before we ever hit a trail.  And the singletrack stuff will be at the very end rather than the start - should get held up a bit less (and hold people up a bit less).

Bike Choice

Mountain bike or Cyclocross?

The debate raged on before last year's race and continues now.  Passionate exchanges from both sides.

For me it's pretty easy... cross.  With one less off-road and so much road up front I think it's a no-brainer this year.  I was handy enough on the singletrack to keep up with the mountain bikes around me, except on the last one (and it's gone).  So done deal.

And it's just a stinkin' fun bike to ride no matter where you are!  The mountain bike is fun, until you get to a road, and then it just feels like a tugboat.

See you there!?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Race Report: 5k on the Runway (Oshawa)

She did it!

My oldest daughter (10) finished her first 5k!  I ran with her providing encouragement (and the occasional fatherly "suck-it-up!").  She did great, especially considering the horrible wind and chill.

My wife and younger daughter (8) and son (5) did the 1k.  Younger daughter finished 3rd!  

All in all a lot of fun.  Did I mention the horrible wind?  Brr.  Inside now, warm, yay!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Intervals, Bloody Intervals (and 10-20-30)

I did "regular" old-school VO2 pushin' intervals for the first time in awhile today.

5x1000m with 3:30 rests between each.

I don't usually get into this kind of detail on my blog about my training, but just wanted to capture this one as I'm pretty sure I did it right this time!

Garmin Data

Target pace: 4:00/km

Interval 1:  1000m  3:58/km @ 173bpm (max 180bpm)
Interval 2:  1000m  3:59/km @ 176bpm (max 182bpm)
Interval 3:  1000m  4:00/km @ 176bpm (max 184bpm)
Interval 4:  1000m  4:03/km @ 177bpm (max 184bpm)
Interval 5:  1000m  3:57/km @ 178bpm (max 187bpm)

Each interval became a little tougher, but I held the pace pretty well and made sure I finished strong on the last one.


There's another workout that's been gaining some traction in running circles, it's the 10-20-30.

  • 10 seconds very fast
  • 20 seconds moderate
  • 30 seconds very slow
Repeat the above 5 times in succession, take a 2 minute break, and do it again.  Repeat this 3-5 times, and allegedly you end up running 5k's much faster (according to one study anyway).

It's counter-intuitive, as the usual wisdom is that running at VO2 for 4-6 minutes gives the best 5km gains... but really it's all about pushing your body's limits and getting adaptations, so why not try it?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Race Preview: 5k on the Runway (Oshawa)

My mother always taught me if you don't have something nice to say, don't say it.  So I don't say much about Oshawa usually...

... but this race is a real gem.  It's one of the best 5k's I've ever done!

Great community feel.
Great venue.
Great charity.

And if that's not enough - lots to do before and after the race on the site.  Just remarkable value, no reason not to do it!  Get to it!

Race website

Our entire family did it last year (even my wife!), and I set my fastest ever 5k time.  It's pancake flat, perfect for setting a PB really.

But a PB isn't my goal this time... instead I will be a pacer for my oldest daughter, helping her complete her first 5k!  She is 10 years old and she's ready.  She's played soccer all summer, and we've done 3.5km and 4km training runs (with the odd walk break!).  Looking very forward to it!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Intermittent Fasting: Tips and Strategies

As I wrote in my previous blog post, I am trying out Intermittent Fasting.

I have done the 24-hour "trial fast", so here are a few tips!

Things you can drink

You can't consume calories, but that doesn't mean you are off everything.  It's not a medical or religious fast, and it's not one of those goofy "cleanse" things where your colon is supposed to get a break!  You are only teaching your body how to deal without calories.
  • Black coffee - I've been using this a lot, decaf in the evenings and half-and-half the rest of the day
  • Diet softdrinks - I know, I know, I can hear the groans - not everyone is a fan. I've always enjoyed them though, and they keep the mouth busy with some flavour
  • Diet juices - Crystal Lite, etc. Again, not everyone's cup of tea. And speaking of tea...
  • Tea - healthy, hot, good
  • Water with lemon juice - Lemon juice has virtually no calories, so I pour a generous amount into my water. The sourness takes away a lot of hungry mouth feelings. I can't explain it, but it works for me!  Add sucrolose (Splenda) and you can make something that's a lot like Lemonade.
Things you should eat

Some people have success with sugar-free gum or mints.  I didn't try it.

Before or after fasting, supposedly it's good to eat a little extra protein. I already have a pretty high protein diet, but I added a glass of milk or some cheese. Seems to help carry me through.

Fasting Patterns

I have tried the 24 hour fast, which went quite well.  My hunger wasn't too overwhelming, and I really did feel better in the days following - not as hungry, energy high.  It could have been in my head, this isn't a scientific result, but there are scientific studies supporting this and it feels good - so I'm going to keep going with it!

Now I am trying the 16-hour fast for a full week.  Basically you adjust your eating pattern so you are off food for 16 hour periods, with an 8 hour eating window.  My chosen window is 11:30am-7:30pm - so no food in the few hours before bedtime and skip breakfast. 

I will update with my progress and findings - so far, so good!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Race Review: Logs Rocks & Steel 2012

It's been a tough year... successes have been few and far between, disappointment has been rampant.

Today, it finally all came together.

2nd place among the male teams, and 3rd place of all teams on the Pinecrest Course!

Perhaps best of all - 1st place of all the canoes!

Well now I've gone and given away the ending.  Now let's rewind to the start...


Forecast: rain.  Lots and lots of rain.  In fact it looked like it was going to be absolutely pouring for the entire race.  Rained the whole drive up, but then we noticed it was lighter and lighter.

And then it stopped... this was clearly a sign of good things to come!


Last year this was our worst leg, but this year we bought a good canoe and practiced a fair bit.  We figured out how to keep the thing straight in both good and bad water, how to make a quick turn, and just spent enough time in it to feel comfortable.

It paid off, big-time!

We wanted to get a quick start to get some distance between us and some of the wobblier boats, as last year we found ourselves battling a lot of other canoes.  Within a few moments we had only 2 kayaks ahead of us, with a 3rd on our left... but no canoes!  I didn't look back, just kept focusing on keeping us on track toward the island.

The 3rd kayak passed us as we went around the island, as I was a bit tentative with getting too close to shore... there were sandbars that came out a ways and some rocks, he took it tighter - but really I wasn't that concerned with what the kayaks were doing, the solo guys were pretty much in a separate race.

After the island I took a quick look back - there was one canoe close to us, the rest were a fair distance back.  These guys were using kayak paddles - I'm not sure if that's a big advantage, I've heard conflicting things.  Still we now knew who the competition was and it was on like Donkey Kong!

We executed a pretty lousy turn around the far buoy, but looking back the others did even worse, so we just put down the power and headed for shore.

Result: 1st canoe!

Then coming onto the dock I was almost knocked into the water as we tried to hoist our 18foot canoe over some metal posts... oops!  I managed to balance on some wires holding the dock together and pop back up onto the dock.  Close call.

Transition 1

Felt fast, got our bike stuff on, but not fast enough - someone passed us in transition!  We caught them soon on the bike, though, and the reason became clear - they didn't change into bike shoes.  We didn't see them again.


Started out great on the road, but soon we hit the off-road.

These trails are rough.  They alternate between rock and mud, and with the rain the mud was really brutal.  Lots of standing water... and the rock was slippery at times.  It was survival mode, we got passed by a few people but I wasn't sure whether they were solo, teams, or doing the long course!  I spent way too much time off my bike.

We got to a fork in the trail and the guy there said "you're the first team through".  Umm, what???  I was shocked, I thought we'd give up a place or two by then!

Finally, mercifully, we were back on the road and flying along again.  We picked off one of the solo guys that had gone past us, but we still were a bit off of last year's time.  Mostly this had to be down to the conditions, it was much tougher with the rain.

Transition 2

Still in in 1st place among the teams!  We were doing great - fast transition, out!


About 300m into the run, our 1st place turned into 2nd, when one of the other male teams passed us.  It was clear with the pace they had this was a permanent situation, so we didn't kill ourselves trying to keep up and just kept our own pace.

This run is diabolical - it's not just hilly, but rocky, overgrown, windy, a true "adventure" trail!  We knew what to expect but it was still tough.

And after all that, in the last 200m or so, my partner slipped on the wet dock and bumped his head!  He sucked it up and ran to the finish, cementing our awesome finish.

The Finish!

Finished about a minute faster than our 2011 time, to my surprise!  By this time we knew we had 2nd among the male teams locked up, but with the staggered start there could be other types of teams behind us on the trail that were ahead of us... and this ended up being the case, one of the co-ed teams finished behind us but was 2nd among the teams.

I'm absolutely delighted, though!  We improved our time, we moved way up the standings, and we raced among the best all day long.  The work we did all year paid off in the canoe, and the other pieces just fell into place nicely.

Best of all was the canoe.  I am sure there are faster people out there - we know some of them!  But the improvement was huge, I think we're something like 6 minutes faster than last year.  That's over a 25 minute canoe, which is enormous.  Working on something and having it pay off like that is extremely satisfying.

Next year we'll be back!  It's a great event.  Awesome food, nice prizes from Salomon, and just a really fun race.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Race Preview: Logs Rocks & Steel 2012

This is our second year doing Logs, Rocks & Steel.  Read the 2011 report here.

Basically, it's an Adventure Race with a marked course.  Canoe, mountain bike, trail run.  Theoretically at least, there is no navigation required (although we almost got lost, and a few teams did get lost!).

Canoe Start by ActiveSteve (Flickr)
There are two distances - the Champion course and the Pine Crest course.  We did the Pine Crest last year and will be doing the same this year... the Champion course is just a bit too crazy!  Maybe someday...


Last year our canoe was pretty rough.  We had only been out a few times before the race, and never in the rental canoe we used in the race (provided by organizers).  This meant a lot of meandering around the lake, mostly not in the direction we hoped to go.

This year we have a canoe we bought just for this - it's an 18' Jensen that's perfect for flying along in a straight line on a lake!  And we've practiced much more to really figure the thing out.  We are better at holding a straight line in all kinds of conditions, and can do a pretty sharp turn when we need to.  So that should be good for a few minutes!

Bike trail.  Seriously.  By ActiveSteve (Flickr)

We pretty much nailed these last year, we had some of the quickest of our immediate competittors, so not too concerned here.


We both had relatively new bikes last year, and I really wasn't comfortable on mine.  As you can see by the picture, the trails are not easy!  A lot is pretty rough, rocky and rutted.  My mountain bike skills have come a long way since then, so I think I  can hold my own rather than drag us down on the off-road.  On the road I'm solid, should be able to draft each other to a good bike time!


I don't think there is much room to improve here, it was just hanging on for dear life.  It's tough, you actually had to climb up rocks and stuff at times, and the trail was even worse than the bike photo above.  Truly an adventure!


A lot will depend on who shows up and if it rains or not... but all things being equal I'd like to see us podium in the men's pairs and beat our previous time.  It should be do-able.  Last year we were 4th (17th of 121 overall) and less than 2 minutes behind 3rd, but I think we can make up a fair bit more time than that.  There is time to be found on the water and the bike, and we're going to find it!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Jono's Durham Forest Mountain Bike Challenge

This is the route:

It hits all three properties - Glen Major, Walker's Woods, and the main Durham Forest tract.  Lots of singletrack and enough climbing to keep the legs challenged.

I did it in 1:22:22... I think I can go faster, if I do I'll post my Garmin data here too.  I'm sure lots of people can do it faster than me, but even if speed isn't your goal this is a fun route to check out a big swath of these properties.

The challenge - beat my time.  You are allowed one stop, only because I took one - at the exit of Walker's Woods before you cross the road.  Stop your Garmin, drink something, and think about how much you hate me for making you do this.

(Disclaimer: Do it safely - I'm not responsible if they put up barbed wire or a pit of snakes or whatever, so keep your head up as always with mountain biking!)

Route description

This route has everything, but most importantly I tried to hit a lot of the best singletrack in the area!  Main highlights are Snakes and Ladders in Walker's Woods, the new build in Durham Forest (Burnt Toast, Bowes, Bowes II) and the classic Maple Gravy!

There are some good climbs, beautiful scenery (don't forget to look at it rather than just bombing through it!), lots of different terrain from mud (if it rained) to sand to hardpack.  Just a lot of fun.

Note that it doesn't stop where it started... you have a choice.  Bomb down the road back  to your car, or try to figure out how to get back on the trails.  The road can be a hoot, it's crazy fast.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Why I am Trying Intermittent Fasting

I'm not a big fan of fad diets.  I resisted Atkins, South Beach, Grapefruits, Grazing, and pretty much every other diet craze.

My plan has always been "burn more than you consume".  I have counted calories whenever my weight needed addressing, mostly with success.

The only problem is that restricting calories sucks.  For one, you feel hungry a lot, especially in the evenings.  And you need to count everything, which can get tedious.  Sometimes you just want to throw back a beer and not think about adding it to the running total!

Intermittent Fasting

The concept is fairly simple:  Don't eat.  Drink water, tea, maybe coffee, but don't consume anything with calories.  This is done over some period of time, in most cases it's 20-24 hours, followed by a resumption of normal eating.  This site pretty much outlines most of what you need to know.

That sounds a lot like starving yourself, doesn't it?  Well yes, it does.  That's basically what it is, really - no calories in, calories still go out, lose weight. 

Why is this good for you?

In studies like this one, they have actually noticed a bunch of positive effects.  In humans, insulin sensitivity is increased (a good thing).  I had some signs of insulin insensitivy a few years ago before losing weight - not a good thing!  Also, despite what you hear repeatedly, your body doesn't just slow down and use less calories - average heart rate was maintained throughout the fasting/non-fasting periods.  Studies in rats showed the fasting rats actually lived longer!

Why?  The theory goes that ancient man didn't get 3 square meals a day plus all the snacks he wanted.  There were periods of scarcity and binging, and our bodies at the time evolved to deal with it.  Now we have those same bodies but live in the age where the slightest hint of hunger can instantly be solved by a trip to the cupboard.

My Anecdote

I had my appendix out, it had burst, and following this I couldn't eat for a few days.  And I didn't feel hungry!  You kind of get used to it after a little while.  It's almost like the acceptance that there is no food coming signals your body to chill out and stop telling you how hungry it is.

I'm hoping that same thing happens as I try this intermittent fast.  We will see.

What About Workouts

Exercise appeared to be fine during fasts, although they did note resistence training was comprimised.  I will organize these during rest days or when I have easier workouts planned.

2 hours in, 22 to go.

Update: 2 Hours to Go

I thought it would be harder than this!  I guess I'm just used to being hungry, as my body really sucks at sending the right signals... but last night after when dinner would have been, I wasn't any hungrier than I usually am.  I drank tea, decaf coffee, and water with some lemon in it - all calorie free.  It's probably toughest right now, after missing breakfast and anxiously awaiting lunch... can't wait to eat.  I love food.  Mmm, food.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ride Report: Ride 4 United Way (Century Ride)

Today I did the 160km Ride 4 United Way in Durham, Ontario.

The Course

It was a bit different from when I last did this ride in 2010, but still just as tough.

The hills are relentless and steep, especially when you get into the second half of the ride.  I don't mind rollers or a long gradual climb, but these are steep tough long climbs... they just killed me!  There are a whole bunch between the stop in Orono and culminating in the ride's signature climb, "Heartbreak Hill", at 100km.

One thing I wasn't that keen on was a new section they added on the east end of the course - the road surface was terrible.  Didn't care much for the headwind either, but nothing organizers can do about that!

My Ride - First 45km

This year I vowed not to push myself stupidly in the first bit only to die later.

Mostly I rode within myself for the first 1/4.  I was in a pretty big lead pack for the start, which was a lot of fun (except when wobbly triathlon girl almost took me out!).  As the pace picked up pace on a climb I got dropped, party by design - I didn`t want to go too hard early on like last time.  After riding a few kilometers by myself, I was picked up by the next group down the road, and rode with them the rest of the way to the first rest stop.

One fun thing we did was a pace line... never done that before, one of the guys pulled it all together.


After that I knew there were some tough hills where I'd get dropped, so I headed out on my own, thinking that group would eventually catch me after the hills!  It would have worked but they weren't quite as quick as I thought... but another group eventually swallowed me up.  I still ended up battling a pretty wicked headwind on my own for a lot of kilometers, though, which sucked.

Did I mention it was really hot?  Yeah.  So hot, headwind, hills, not the ideal century ride conditions!

Rolled into the rest stop at Orono feeling pretty OK, despite the headwind.


This is the 20km that broke me last time, and this time was no different.  Relentless hills, long and steep, culminating with the steepest climb on the course at 100km.  And by now the sun was just baking the course, so those slow climbs were burning the quads and overheating me big-time.  I survived it all somehow, but by the time I got over Heartbreak Hill at 100km I was cooked.


Survival mode.  Headwind.  Crappy roads for a bunch of it.  Still the odd climb, but nothing too serious - although in the shape I was in, they all felt pretty serious now!  Net downhill to the next rest stop by the lake, but I didn`t notice with the headwind.

The thing I didn`t get about the headwind - there was a group of 3 guys behind me, and I backed off so they`d catch me and we could work together... and they never caught me.  It`s like they were trying to stay away or something, very weird and irritating.  Maybe they weren`t working together, I`m not sure!


I was hoping I`d feel better after a break at the rest stop, but I really didn`t.  I tried to stick with a couple of riders early on, but they lost me... I was just cooked.  Got stopped by a train crossing.  Other than that, it was just miles, first with a tailwind, then with a headwind to the finish.  I hated that headwind by the end of it.

Gotta love those 3 bonus kilometers!


Tough ride.  I haven`t really done the miles for this kind of thing, and as the day wore on it really showed.  Headwind, heat and steep climbs really got to me.  Did a good job on nutrition, drank as much as my stomach would allow and got in a few gels too.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Lance Did Dope

I wrote a blog post a few years about "Did Lance Dope?".

This was back when Floyd Landis had sent a series of e-mails detailing the doping on the U.S. Postal Service team.  Even then it seemed obvious the answer was "Yes"... in fact even before Landis said a peep it was pretty clear.

At the time, I rather optimistically said:

This has to be the final straw for anyone who still thinks Lance was clean... although I suspect it won't be

Sadly, my suspicions were right.  The Lance Spin Machine worked it's magic, with the usual talking points.

  • Never failed a test (neither did Ulrich or Basso!)
  • Accuser is a scumbag liar 
  • Look at all the good work he's done for cancer!  (or as I call it, the "look over there, something shiny!" defence)

Now we're at another point in history, with Lance giving up the fight against USADA's drug charges before it really even started.

He had a choice - face the process and see the USADA evidence (which has never been revealed) or accept the ban and hope it never gets out.  He accepted the ban, leaving the Lance Spin Machine with those same old talking points... and once again, while I think it should be the final straw, I suspect it won't be.

An innocent man wants to see the evidence he's being accused with.  He wants the opportunity to fight it out and address those accusers.  He wants to clear his name.

Instead, he's hidden behind a bizarre claim USADA is biased against him and has rigged the process - a claim he made in a court of law, only to have a federal judge say the exact opposite after hearing his arguments:

USADA's arbitration rules follow the guidelines of the American Arbitration Association and are "sufficiently robust."
In the end, Lance took his ball and went home, rather than fight.  This is a new Lance, one without the will to fight, and one that never would have won the Tour de France in the first place.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ride Preview: Ride 4 United Way (Century Ride)

This is a 100 mile (160km) ride in the Durham Region of Ontario.

Race website

I did this ride in 2010, although at the time 160km didn't do enough for me so I added an extra 40km to it by riding to the start line -my longest ride at 200km!  That was fun, but pretty bloody tough - especially after one miscue had me miss an important mid-ride aid station.


The Course

It's a nice ride through a lot of the Durham countryside.  But easy, it is not... it's tough.  There is a fair amount of elevation gain, some gradual, some painful.  And there is "Heartbreak Hill", a very steep climb in the back half of the route.  I have made a point of including it on my longer rides this year just to feel better about it, but I think knowing it better has had the reverse effect - I'm dreading it!

Pack Riding

The peloton looks so nice and effortless, but last year for me sticking with the pack was a real challenge.  I'm too used to riding solo and having full discretion over my pacing - when to push, when to conserve, it's all in my control.  In a pack, you're at the mercy of every other rider around you... if they decide to hammer it up a hill, you better hope you can stick with the back end of them, or you're gonzo!

Sometimes they were too slow!  I got frustrated with them on some rollers (hills that go up-down-up-down).  I didn't feel they were doing a very good job carrying speed on the downhills, sitting up and letting all their momentum die... making the uphill so much harder!  This was made worse by the accordion effect, the further back you were, the more you had to slow.  Eventually I bolted past and ended up going pretty far ahead with a much smaller (and faster) group... which I'm sure burned a stupid amount of energy for no reason.

Then... they were too fast!  After a rest stop, I was back in the pack until we hit a pretty serious uphill - and I got dropped.  I burned a lot trying to get back on the back, only to get dropped again on the next pretty serious hill.

Definitely tricky, and hopefully I'm a bit smarter with it this year.  Patience is key, and I think I have a gear I didn't used to have for staying with them... but we'll see!


I blew it a bit last year, just didn't plan this well enough.  I will aim for one gel (100 cal each) and a bottle of Gatorade (about 180 cal) every hour, with the odd gulp of water for the gel and banana/cookie/whatever thrown in to add some solids.  I can tolerate a lot more food on the bike than running, so I go with the "more is more" philosophy.


I hate to say I don't really have one, but I don't really have one.  The pack riding really monkies up the average speeds - they can flatter you by pulling you around.  I've done a century ride at over 30km/h before (Ride for Karen) with a lot of help from the pack, so ideally I'd like to see that again (although this is a tougher route)... but I'm not going to be too picky about it.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Race Report: Kyle's Run 2012

OK, so it's not a real "race report" in that I wasn't actually racing... I was the lead bike for the 10km.

Kyle's Run

This is a great local event, a nice intro to trail running and great atmosphere.  BBQ at the finish, reasonable entry fee, what more could you ask for?  And a lovely summer day, too.

Being Lead Bike

My main job was to make sure the trail was clear ahead and that the lead runners didn't get lost.  I rode a fair distance ahead just to make sure I didn't impede the leaders, but made sure I was visible when making any turns.

I had a front-row seat for the race, which was pretty neat.  There was a bit of back and forth between the leaders, but by the end there was one guy who pulled way ahead of the rest!  I was secretly cheering for the guy in the red shirt just because he was easier to spot when I looked over my shoulder.

Clearing the trail was mostly OK, people generally understood to move out of the way when I asked as nicely as I could muster.  The only pain was a few of the participants we'd catch up to with headphones...   One lady I yelled "excuse me!" 3 times and she never did hear me, I scared the heck out of her pulling up next to her... impossible to be attentive when one of your senses is blocked out like that.  Leave the earbuds at home on race day!

Other than that, it was a pretty fun experience.  And I finally got to the finish line in 1st place!  One day maybe I'll do that without wheels, who knows?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Race Preview: Kyle's Run 2012

Kyle's Run is a great introduction to trail racing in Whitby, Ontario.

You don't need special shoes, you won't be wading through creeks, it's all pretty gentle (but hilly!) and fun.

The 5k is very flat and open on wide trails.

The 10k is flat for the first and last 1/4, but the middle 1/2 has some good climbs to make you sweat and provide a challenge!

Then there's a great kid's 1k that is a real hoot, complete with great prizes.

I did the 10k last year (and my son did the 1k).  This year I volunteered and will be the 10k lead bike.  It's my first time doing that for a race, looking forward to it.

Come on out!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Inspiration and Speed

I was out on my road bike today, trying to keep a decent average speed.  My legs were pretty stiff from a long run Monday, so it was tough to really push it.  I was about 45km into the 65km route, and had begun resigning myself to the fact that I wouldn't be able to hit my 30km/h target over a pretty hilly route.

And then... inspiration!  Another rider catches me by surprise and passes me.

At first I was just going to see if I could match his speed.  Not drafting him, but just keep the gap steady.  Then we came to a downhill, he stopped pedalling, I kept going, and passed him.  Now I was hammering it trying to stay ahead - but with the uphill Mr. Skinny Dude kicked my butt and passed me again!

I caught back up to him, and on the next long gradual downhill, once again passed him.  Then another uphill, he passed me.  Repeat.  Chatted a bit with him before turning off and going our separate ways.

I looked down and my average speed... nice surprise, I was within a shout of my goal with a few kilometers to make up the rest.  Ended up at 30.2km/h - nice!

Morale of the story:  sore legs are a crappy excuse, there is always more in the tank depending on how badly you want to find it!

Monday, August 6, 2012

2012 Goals - Mid-year Navel-Gazing

This has been a pretty disappointing year so far.  I started off injured, lost a family member, and have had more than my share of illness - all of which has me off my peak fitness.

The two highlights were both team events.  First I took part in the TREAD 6 Hour Relay, which was both a lot of fun and a solid effort.  Second was sharing the win at the Moraine Adventure Relay - we really did a great job, and I held my own contributing to our team's win.  So I'm proud of that one, we really put it all together in our 3rd crack at it and had a great time doing it.

But then there were the failures... early on, the lack of training due to injury had me stinking it up at the local 10k and Paris to Ancaster.  By summer I felt my conditioning was back (although my weight was still a problem), but I had trouble at the XC Mansfield Marathon and yesterday I DNF'd the Muskoka Grind.

So reviewing my goals this year:

Weight into the 160s

I am nowhere with this one- still over 180, which isn't "overweight" but it isn't 160's either.  There are reasons this has been tough, but ultimately no excuse - I just need to do it.

Sub-20 5k

I haven't even had time to think about this one, let alone do it!  Just struggling to get myself ready for all of the off-road multisport stuff I have on the agenda.  My hill training should carry over into a 5k, I will give this more focus in the fall.

Rock Out Some Off-road Races

I have done a lot more mountain biking this year than previous years, but haven't been able to put it together in a race.  Our team did great at the Moraine Adventure Relay (shared the win!) and I contributed to that, and I did have that great trail run relay early on... but since then it's been pretty disastrous.  I really need to rebound, so all my focus is on Logs Rocks & Steel.

Looking Ahead...

I think there's still time to do all of this, but I need to focus and hopefully there are no more distractions or obstructions!  And even if there are I need to be more like 2009 me and just push through them.  No excuses.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Race Report: Muskoka Grind

I was really looking forward to this race, but instead of a triumphant finish I had the opportunity to suffer the humiliation of a DNF!  Not fun.

I'll still go through the blow by blow, as one tends to learn more in failure than success.  Unfortunately 2012 has been a tough one with a lot more learning than I care for.

The Preamble

I was sick last week, and still had some lingering symptoms this week.  Despite that, I managed to get in some biking and running and mostly felt OK doing it.  I figured I was good to go!

Last night I was not good to go - I had a lot of sinus pain, that kept me from sleeping.  I've now gone to the doctor and have antibiotics for what turned out to be a sinus infection!  Kind of wish I'd known that before driving 200km up to DNF a triathlon... but we'll get to that shortly.

The Swim

This went kind of OK.  I'm always pretty slow, this was unusually pokey even for me, but I haven't been in the pool much this year (literally 4 times I think).   So chalk that up to the lack of swimming and maybe a hint of what was to come...

I emerged from the water and as I jogged along I felt completely wasted.  Flush and exhausted... this was beyond normal fatigue, but again, I thought maybe I could get through it.

The Bike

The bike course starts out on a few easy roads, then goes straight up a long incline.  It wasn't actually that bad, but I found myself completely unable to do anything useful at all... the back-of-pack folks I was supposed to be making up time on were passing me!  It was really bad, that's when I realized for sure this wasn't normal fatigue.

I tried hanging in there a bit longer, hoping things would improve.  I even stopped completely just hoping if I took a break and nursed my heart rate down I could continue, but it wasn't coming down and I was now feeling nauseous.   A fellow competitor asked if I needed any help because I looked "really pale".

That's when I decided it was over.

Sometimes there's a reason to fight through things, like when my knee pain struck during the NYC marathon.  But this was not an A race, just finishing wasn't going to bring me any joy, and feeling dizzy and nauceous while bombing down mountain bike trails isn't a good combination.

The Rest

Headed back to transition, handed in my chip, and went home.  Then went to the doctor and got some antibiotics.

I'll be back to fight another day!

One last comment on the event, so I properly describe it!  First, the location is beautiful, the lake is gorgeous and despite the strong winds, quite calm.  The trails I managed to stick around for were hiking trails that don't see much bike traffic, so they were bumpy and soft, without any banking or anything you might expect on a true mountain bike trail (or have experienced in their other race, Mine Over Matter).  Still beautiful, but hard to get any flow in my short endeavour.  Your mileage may vary!  I will try do this one next year to exact my revenge!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

How to Get Back to Your Car When You Are Lost in the Forest (and have a Garmin Forerunner 305)

These guys went mountain biking in the forest, in the late evening.  They were separated, one guy made it back to his car, the other was lost in the woods... for 5 hours!  The police helicopter was called and he was finally located after 1am.

Yikes!  Now let's replay this event assuming they had with them a Garmin Forerunner 305.

You're lost in the forest.  You want to get back to your car.  Press Mode.  Navigation.  "Back to Start".  Something like this will pop up:

You are the black arrow. 

The flag labelled START is where you started.  This means where you first hit the "start" button, so if you did that late, well, you might be in the forest awhile.  Pack a lunch.

The scale is shown in the bottom left corner.  If you don't see where you started, you can zoom out by pressing the "up" arrow (top right button).

Now this isn't Google Maps, or a fancy Garmin navigational system that will tell you in a sexy voice to "turn left in 100 meters"...  the Garmin Forerunner 305 has no concept of roads, trails, or any other landmarks.  All it knows is that there's an earth and you took a certain path on it (the black line).

The best strategy might be to simply try follow the black line back to the START.  Or you can try take other trails that seem to generally head in the direction of START - this may be pretty good, or may get you on the wrong side of a lake or something impassable.

But at least you now have a sense of where you are relative to where you started, and what direction you've travelled in... for most people who are reasonably bright, that should help a lot to find your precious vehicle and get out of the forest!

One last note about the black arrow.  It shows the direction you are travelling in, not the direction you are facing!  So if you stand still and spin around, the arrow will not change.  It's a subtle difference, but worth noting - if it's not making sense, try moving a bit in one direction until it updates.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Race Preview: The Muskoka Grind

Off-road Triathlon.  Swim, Mountain Bike, Trail Run.

This is the first time they have held this race, but based on the descriptions on the race website it sounds like a tough one!

1000m swim consists of two loops, and should be pretty straightforward.  Except - I haven't been swimming much this year, and I haven't been in open water at all!  I was thinking of switching to the duathlon, but after a swim last week I feel pretty confident I can at least get through it.  I can't be that much slower than last year, can I?

16.5km bike ... well it starts with something called "Ski Hill", which the organizer describes as "
 gravel".  Just in general it sounds like it will be very rustic and random, which means pretty tough to find a rhythm.  Two loops.  I won't get a chance to pre-ride it, so I guess the first loop will be exploratory so I can try hammer it on the second one!

8.5km trail run sounds quite a bit more enjoyable, with a tough hill and what sounds like pleasant trails.  We will see!

Goal?  As with most of my races this year, I don't really have a specific goal in mind.  This was going to be an "A" race but I haven't done the swimming to really get it there, so I'm just going to try have fun.  Last year I did their duathlon and did pretty OK, 6th out of 25.  This time - don't drown in the swim, pick up some places in the bike, and then let it all hang out in the run!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Homemade Gatorade Recipe

Gatorade: I love the stuff.  I go through can after can of it.  I used it at Ironman almost exclusively.  It's convenient, tastes nice, and seems to work for me.

But it adds up... so I have been scouring the internet looking for a decent recipe for making Homemade Gatorade, but so far all I have found is a lot of recipes that fall well short.  Most common mistake: missing the potassium, or trying to make Gatorade healthy by removing salt or using a long list of whacky ingredients.

When You Need Gatorade

When you are doing endurance sports for long periods of time (at least an hour), or in high heat.

When You Don't Need Gatorade

Any other time, it's nearly as bad for you as soda pop, if not worse with the high salt content.  If you are not stressing your body for energy and electrolytes, you do NOT need Gatorade!  It is NOT health food.

So what's in it?

Important Ingredient #1: Sugar

All of the calories in Gatorade come from sugar.  If you get the liquid form, it's Glucose-Fructose.  If you get the powder, it's good old fashioned sugar (which is glucose and fructose!).  Sugar is the key for energy.

Important Ingredient #2: Salt

Those electrolytes Gatorade is famous for?  The most important of them is salt.  We get a lot of salt in our diets in North America, so unless you're going pretty far or its really bloody hot, you probably don't need more salt.

Important Ingredient #3:  Potassium

Another electrolyte, you need it, Gatorade has it.

Other Ingredients: Not important!  Flavour and preservatives.  You don't need something that tastes good and lasts long, do you?  I didn't think so.

So dissecting 500mL of Gatorade from their powdered mix, it has:

  1. 120 calories.  This is the same as the amount in about 3 tablespoons of sugar.
  2. 190mg sodium.  This is amount of sodium in just 1/12th of a teaspoon of table salt!
  3. 65mg potassium.  This is how much potassium there is in just 1/7th of a cup of Orange Juice.  The real stuff, 100% juice, none of that Tropicana nonsense, no sugar added!
Recipe to make a 2L (1/2 gallon) jug of Gatorade-equivalent:
  • 3/4 cup of table sugar
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (+ 1/8 cup) Orange Juice (100% Juice only, can be from concentrate)
  • Water up to the 2L (1/2 gallon) mark of your jug
Stir it up and that's it!  It tastes pretty OK, not as good as Gatorade without the artificial flavours.  If you want to add some Kool-Aid powder (the unsweetened one) or lemon juice to it, I won't be offended.

Cost: cheap.  Only ingredient that costs much of anything is the Orange Juice, everything else is almost free.  And if it's a little hotter - just add a bit more salt and OJ, and bam, extra electrolytes.

Also see my homemade energy gel recipe for something with more complex carbohydrates.