Monday, November 22, 2010

After Thoughts

After another week to let the events of November 7th soak in, I'm feeling more pleased with my results. The race was a bear I kid you not, but what really has given me the most satisfaction is the feeling that I really am learning how to do these events. My race plan was executed as well as I could have hoped for with the exception of the poor choice of race nutrition.
So what do I think the keys were. Number one is I really have learned to stay in the moment. Of all the advice I could give to anyone wanting to do triathlon, that would be the single most important piece I could pass on. When you think of what you are planning to put your body through, be it a sprint, olympic, half or full ironman, the distances seem daunting. And I think that is where most people get themselves overwhelmed is in thinking of the total distance. Triathlon is three separate events, and quite possibly 5 if you think of the transitions as another event. Learning to break the race into it's components and focus on one piece at a time is critical to having a satisfying event. If you start thinking about the run as you enter the water, there is probably a high probability you're going to have a long day. However if you are thinking about that first stroke of the swim and how you are going to try and make it as effortless and smooth as possible, chances are you have your head in the right space. Each stroke of the swim, revolution of the pedal on the bike, and stride on the run needs to be done with purpose and in it's own moment. Experience of doing these events is the best way to learn it and I really feel that I finally pulled it all together at Silverman. I never got ahead of myself once, and despite the discomfort at some junctures, was able to enjoy each piece of the day. Now I'm just wondering if I enjoyed it enough to take another run at the Silverman!
Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Race Report

The first thing I said to Angela when I finished the race last Sunday was, "If I tell you in a couple of weeks that this wasn't so bad and I want to do it again, remind me that it was bad!"
Oddly enough, a week later and already I am thinking more about the good things then the bad things. It was a great day all the way around. As tough as anything I have ever done, but with few exceptions, I think I performed the best I have in any race. My time of 13:15:36 doesn't accurately reflect how well I did executed my plan, but for the course and the conditions I couldn't have been happier.
The Swim:
On race day I woke up after a good night's rest feeling more relaxed than I ever have for an event. After a shower and some primping I had a breakfast of a bagel and some gatorade and packed my remaining gear to head to the start. The swim start was only a 5 minute walk from our hotel, so Angela and I headed over at about 6:00 AM.
Once at the venue I went in to get body marked and then took my pump and went down to T1 to inflate my tires and do a few last minute checks. I also dropped off my special needs bags for the bike and run. After getting the last of the T1 preps done I went back to give Angela the pump and say good bye.
Back to the T1 tent and into my wetsuit for the 7:00 am deep water start. I waited until about 6:50 am before I entered the water and was pleased to see the temperature was nice and comfortable (around 20 degrees C) and the water was nice and clean. Air temperature was around 15 C and sunny so it looked like it was going to be a good day.
With only about 300 people in the water it was nice to be able to spread out and not worry about getting kicked and punched. Once the gun went off, I got settled in right away and thoroughly enjoyed the entire swim. I found a good rythm and swam relaxed for the full 2.4 mile distance.
The Bike:
After exiting the water I did a fairly decent transition. It was quite a distance from the exit of the water to the change tent and then again from the tent to the mount line for the bike. By the time I got on the bike the sun was starting to gain some strength so I never felt chilled from being wet. Right from the start of the ride you were on a hill and I should have known from there that it was going to be a long day and quite a challenge. Without going into all the gory details of the bike section, I can just tell you it was ever bit as grueling as they promised. Lots of hills of every description, long, short, steep, sloping and to add to it a head wind for the entire return. The desert scenery was awesome and I really enjoyed it. The toughest climb was just at the turn around as we had a long climb back up and then across three hills, called the three sisters. From there we went across a long section of rolling hills, a fairly good descent and then one long climb onto the Mead Valley Parkway. Once on the parkway I was certain we were through the worst of it, but I was wrong! We turned off the parkway onto a bike path that would bring us back to Henderson. It was here that I encountered some of the most insane climbs of the whole course. It appeared that they saved the best for last and I saw more than one person end up pushing their bike up the hill. Fortunately for me I was in a group of 3 that seemed to be pushing one another through this section of the course.
By the time I was coming up to T2 my legs were really starting to feel trashed, and with a 26.2 mile run yet to go that is never good.
The Run:
Once I dismounted I really was starting to wonder how I would get through the run. However by the time I got into transition and got ready to go, my legs came right back to me. I felt strong and ready to go, unfortunately it was right as I started into the run, that my poor choice of nutrition reared it's ugly head and I had some stomach cramps. After a stop at mile one and again at mile four, the cramping subsided and I was able to get into a decent pace. As with all my Iron Man races I always walk the aid stations to make sure that I am getting fluids and some food into me. When I was leaving T2 I remember some guy saying, "Just remember guys, five five mile runs." That stuck with me and by the time I finished the first loop of the two loop course I was thinking about that I only had two more miles and I would have three of the five done. On the second lap I had to stop one more time for the cramps but otherwise I was feeling strong. With the sun having gone down I was starting to get a little cold and the hills that didn't seem so bad on lap one, seemed to grow on lap two. But in the end I managed to keep putting one foot in front of the other and completed the run feeling fine.
So will I do Silverman again, it's hard to say. I certainly liked everything about the race and the venue was perfect. However it still is without a doubt the toughest thing I have ever done, so I would have to think about it.
Now to figure out what to do next?
Have a great day!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The World's Toughest Triathlon

Well this year's version of the Silverman did not disappoint! Without a doubt this was the most difficult endurance event I have done to date. The course was an absolute bear! The climbs on this course were incredible. But it was extremely scenic.
I would have to say I executed my race plan almost flawlessly with the exception of one small change at the end. Normally for nutrition I mix my carbo pro with crystal lite, but this time I bought pre-mixed stuff. It was thick and tasted like cough syrup. I believe that is what gave me the tummy troubles on the run.
Once I return home I will give a little more detailed race report.
My time was 13:15 which was great given the course and conditions and I managed to finish second in my age group.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

One More Week!

Well next week at this time I will be in the early stages of my race. I have no doubt this is going to be the toughest challenge I have taken on to date. Judging from the past times they look to be at least one hour or better slower than most IM races.
The key to success (finishing!) will be more cerebral than physical. The focus can't be on the clock. I have resigned myself that the time will be slower. I really have to be extremely mindful of taking it easy when I can and reserving as much energy as possible. The swim should be good as there are just over 300 competitors in the full distance. Therefore the lake shouldn't be crowded and the risk of getting punched, kicked or mugged is decreased significantly. While swimming in the wetsuit does wonders for the buoyancy the added restriction does tend to increase fatigue in the arms. I am looking to just settle into a nice rhythm and concentrate on good form.
The bike part will be the biggest challenge. With all the climbing I am going to have to get my routine settled into quickly. I like to break each hour into 10 - 15 minute cycles, where I make sure I drink, get some calories in, change position and stand at least once. Keeping everything functioning is going to take a lot of discipline.
When it comes to the run I really will have to watch my pace. Much like the bike, it will be a matter of getting settled into a pace and a routine. The hills on the run give me far less heartburn then on the bike. I actually don't mind running hills. If you look down it looks like it is flat anyway!
Basically that is my strategy in a nutshell. Finishing is the goal and whatever time it takes will be fine with me. I will keep you posted from the road as we will be heading out on Wednesday.
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Countdown Begins!

It is less than 2 weeks until Silverman and I am starting to get excited. I am looking forward to the event obviously but the break away will also be enjoyable. We will be heading out next Wednesday and doing the 24 hour drive to Henderson, Nevada. I am just too nervous about shipping my bike and everything else, plus I don't mind driving. So it should be a fun trip.
As far as the training goes I am feeling confident but I know it is not going to be a fast time. I will be 12 plus hours I am sure, but my goal is to complete the race comfortably. Outside of that I have no other major goals set for this race. The next little while will be some relatively light training and mostly a lot of rest.
Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fear and Loathing of Las Vegas

Well that isn’t entirely true, although the fear part of my upcoming race in November is real! Obviously I am adequately prepared for the Silverman but I do feel a tad bit exposed on the cycling side of things. I would certainly have liked to have done more long rides, but the weather has just not co-operated. So I opted for the trainer for shorter, higher intensity type work. Hopefully that gives me what I need to deal with the 180 km bike ride on a course that has 9,800 feet of climbing on it! I’ll get my answer on November 7.
After my marathon on October 10, the recovery has gone quite well and the legs are feeling better already. This week I have racked up 24 miles of running so far with no ill effects. Given the quick turn around time, I will probably not do any runs beyond 10 miles or so.
The marathon in Victoria was wonderful as usual. I ran a fairly good race, clocking 3:02:33 and should easily have broken 3 hours had I managed my days prior to the race better. The prime reason for our trip to the coast was to deliver a load of “stuff” to my daughter who has recently relocated to Vancouver and of course to visit her. So the days prior to the race were spent loading and unloading material, a trip to IKEA for more stuff, and then the assembly of our wares from IKEA. Hydrating and carbo loading were put on the back shelf and the race pretty much forgotten until Sunday morning. Having said that I still ran a great run, 1:02 at 10 miles, 1:24 at the half and I was still cruising at 35 kilometres and then I just seized up. The last 5 or 6 kilometres were a struggle, but I managed to keep a smile on my face and shuffle along to the finish. I have no doubts that I would have easily met my target of sub 3 had I been a little better prepared from the nutrition and hydration point of view. Since I am driving to Las Vegas I will have to be more mindful of those elements on route.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Okay I'm going to try this again

Last post was March 10 of this year and I have finally decided to try and start blogging again. It's not that I haven't had anything to blog about, just couldn't seem to find the time or motivation.
So here is a quick re-cap of the events of 2010

St. Albert 10 Miler - 1:05 - 3rd in 50 - 59
Banff to Jasper Relay - Leg #3 (all uphill) 20.6 kms in 1:31 - 4th overall for the leg
Heart of the Rockies Olympic Tri - 2:33 - 3rd again in age group
Stony Plain 1/2 Marathon - 1:24:24 - 5th overall and 1st in age group
Victoria Marathon - 3:02:33 - 6th in age group and 88th overall

As you can see I have had a relatively busy last couple of months. Lots of training as well in preparation for the Silverman in Henderson, NV on November 7. Still not sure that running a marathon hard last weekend, four weeks out from an IM was a great idea, but we will see. Overall my training has gone well but I have definitely not put in enough time on the bike. The weather here this summer was not conducive to cycling so I deferred to the trainer for shorter rides. Hopefully it has all added up and will count for something.
Now to just try and get in the habit of posting more often.
Have a great day!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Improvements in the Pool

Over the last few months there have been some definite improvements in my swim. However I was not really aware of the fact that they have been notable and sustained. Since getting back in the pool in November after an extended absence, I have been able to consistently break 30:00 over 1,500 metres. For the longest while I was stuck in the 32:00 range and could not seem to make any improvements. The only thing I can think of that has really changed is that I have concentrated less on stroke count and more on getting a good pull. When I took the TI course they really emphasized stroke count which is no doubt important. Flailing away at 26 strokes per length is not very efficient to say the least. However, trying to get to 16 or so is not realistic for me. Since settling in at about 18 or so, I have noted the time improvements. I also bought some paddles to help me work on improving my pull, because quite frankly it wasn't very strong. The mechanics were okay, I just wasn't catching and displacing enough water. That I think has been key. So I have knocked a few minutes off which definitely will help in the shorter races.
Speaking of races it looks like I am going to sign up for the St. Albert 10 Miler on April 11th. I feel good right now and that is a perfect distance to get back into racing. For some reason I feel a bit nervous about it, but that is good I guess.
Hope you have a great week!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What can I say?

The lack of blogging has been for no particular reason other than I really don't have much to say. I can hardly imagine that anyone is particularly interested in reading about my mundane training regime. Anyone who reads this knows that I generally fly by the seat of my pants, inventing my training program as I go, but the pattern is pretty predictable. Monday, Wednesday, Friday - swim at lunch, Tuesday, Thursday - run at lunch. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday - run in the evenings. Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday - bike in the evenings. That's the formula with very little deviation.
So what have I been up to the last month or so? Well on the training front, just see above. Progression is going well and I can gear up at anytime to do a marathon or at least a half iron man with a month's notice. Iron man will take at least two months but overall my fitness level is quite solid.
On the personal front, I have been busy at work preparing for a number of labour arbitrations and also getting our applications in for government granting for some major projects. Both very interesting and time consuming.
Last week we took a quick 5 day trip to Palm Springs. It was wonderful! The weather was perfect and it was a very relaxing couple of days. Now I am invigorated to get hard at the training and pick some races!
Have a great week!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Little More Than Planned….

Despite my best efforts last week I surpassed my target of 8 hours by a little more than planned. A combination of good weather, fresh legs and a good attitude resulted in getting into double digits and finishing the week over 10 hours.
Now in the big scheme of things that in itself is not a huge deal, but what it does show is my body is almost pre-programmed for an early season race.
The totals for the week were

Swimming 6,250 metres
Biking 60 miles
Ran 40 miles

There were a couple of hard efforts in there, but by and large it was just some good solid workouts. One of the runs was a good tempo run – 10 kms with an average pace of 6:37 / mile. I still believe that for me to work my Ironman times down I am going to have to capitalize on my running strength. Over the three races I have done, I have not felt that I have been able to really push on the run. In 2008 at Arizona there was no opportunity as the conditions put me in survival mode, but last year at IM CDA I should have been able to do better.
This week will be a cut back week to try and compensate for last week. I will still want to keep the running up around 40 miles since it looks like Red Deer is going to be my spring race in May.
Have a great week!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


For some reason, I have a cautious sense of optimism about the upcoming race season. Even though I haven’t really mapped out what I am going to do specifically, I have a good feeling about 2010.
I seem to have got off to a good start in my training and feel like I am starting at a new level. While I have taken no discernible break in working out, I have tried to not get too far ahead of myself and plunge into 10 – 12 hour weeks right off the get go. Right now I want to stick around the 8 to 10 hour range and not get myself burned out. At this level I will have great fitness and work on skill development a bit more.
On the swimming front I have been concentrating less on stroke count and more on propulsion. It’s great to have 15 stroke count but if you’re covering the 100 metres in 2:10 there is probably an opportunity there. So with less focus on the stroke count and greater emphasis on the pull and rotation I have seen an improvement in my overall times.
With the bike I have been working on finding that sweet spot between gearing and cadence. Last season I had a break through experimenting with all the gears on my bike. Cyclists tend to get caught up in what people around them are doing rather than paying attention to what they are doing. There are some people that can really hammer in the big gears but if I am beside them in a smaller gear, that works doesn’t it?
While running is certainly my strongest of the three events I have never felt that I have been able to capitalize on it in the longer events. Largely I think it is mental rather than physical. In the longer events, you are constantly afraid of finding yourself curled up in the fetal position on the side of the road because you were too aggressive. While that is a risk, you still can’t hold back too much. Finding that middle ground is something I still haven’t found and as much as anything it will take a leap of faith that my conditioning will get me through.
So this week of training will keep at a touch over 8 hours again. Still feeling good and I have no reason to add any more on right now.
Have a great day!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Couple of Good Weeks

The last couple of weeks of training have been a lot of fun and I am really feeling like I have a good solid base to work from. I have imposed a limit of 8 hours for right now until I pick a race. At this limit I am not getting too far ahead of myself with the likely outcome of being burned out once race time comes around. Also within the 8 hour weeks I am trying to mix up the proportions of each of the three disciplines. So far it has been reasonably successful, although that darn running always seems to win out!
February is the month that I will pick my races and then I can develop a more formal plan. From past history, you will know that I don’t really develop a rigid plan, but something more along the lines of a guideline. Some people need the more prescriptive type plan, but I have had success following this line of thinking.
Last week I ended the week with 8 hours and 5 minutes, on 3 swims (5,150 metres), 3 rides (46 miles) and 5 runs (33 miles). One of the workouts was a brick which worked out quite nicely and my legs transitioned quite well from bike to run.
I also do a fair bit of core work which consists of sit ups, push ups and chin ups. Last weeks totals were 1,500 sit ups, 420 push ups and 85 chin ups.
Otherwise life continues to be good. We have had a relatively mild winter and there are some subtle signs that spring may even happen. I haven’t planned a winter vacation this year because I’m just not feeling like I need one yet. That may change, but if it doesn’t the money saved will be used to build a fence.
Have a great day!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ready to Rock 'n Roll

The last two weeks of training have been what are known as "orientation" weeks. It really is designed to get you back in the swing of "two a day workouts" and a little more structure. Over the last few months I have continued training but it was heavily weighted to running, a smattering of swimming and the cycling was really hit and miss. During this orientation cycle I have really felt good. My swimming has shown a marked improvement and I'm not quite sure why. During the months when the pool was closed I did start doing 40 - 60 chin ups every second day and I'm wondering if that might have helped. Whatever it is, it sure has been nice to see my times dropping in the pool.
Yesterday I went for my annual physical and apparently there is nothing stopping me from training at a high level again this year.
So far this week I have logged just over 6 hours of training, 2 swims, 2 bikes and 4 runs.
Have a great day!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A New Year!

Well I finally feel like doing some posting again after a relatively long hiatus. Nothing really sinister about the break other than I was busy and I just didn't feel much like posting. To be honest I have been reading any blogs either which I will also start doing again.
Over the last few months I have been training albeit at a reduced rate as I really have not made any plans for this year. I still have not signed up for an Ironman race, but I have realized I am going to have to pay for a Community Foundation spot this year so I can really pick the race I want to go to. The Community Foundation fees are for spots that basically cost double the normal fee ($US 550) with the excess going to community groups who volunteer for the race. It's a great idea and I don't mind paying the additional amount knowing that it supports the Boy Scouts, minor sports, or whatever of the hosting community.
This year I am excited about entering a new age category. On January 8th I turned 50 so I am the young guy in this new group. Unfortunately the age group is full of many talented athletes. Age doesn't seem to affect some of these guys! One of the nice things about triathlon is you can continue to improve even as you age. With the three disciplines there is always an opportunity to get better at one of them. With me, as I have long lamented, it's the bike. Although I have seen a steady and significant improvement in my cycling, I still know there is a lot more there.
So this week was the kick off of my new training cycle and it was a very good week as I have logged just about 8 hours already. With no specific event on the calendar I am not going to get too far ahead of myself. I am going to stay around the 8 to 10 hours for awhile and just work on keeping things interesting.
I am keen on running a spring marathon as my running has been quite good. Despite putting a lot of miles on the treadmill I have found the conversion back to the roads smooth and with little or no discrepancy in my time. Thursday I ran 7.5 miles over some decent hills and maintained a 6:49 pace. The big question for me this year is there another sub-3 in the tank to make it 4 decades of running at least one sub-3. Only time will tell!
Have a great day!