2017 Tremblant 70.3 – Race Report

Mont Tremblant

For all the racing I’ve been fortunate to do, there is no location I enjoy more than Mont Tremblant. The village is ideal as a race venue. The organization, volunteers and crowds are all amazing.

Mont TremblantPre-race

As is our normal routine for this race, we drove to Tremblant on Friday morning. I was hoping to ease the Saturday chaos by doing race check-in when we got there Friday but there was a huge line-up, so I didn’t bother with that. We had a great dinner at our friends’ condo in the old Village on Friday night with 25 people! It was great to see so many people who we don’t get to see often, and had not seen in a while.

Saturday was very busy with race registration, short swim/bike/run, athlete briefing, bike check-in and packing gear for race morning. By the time we were finished dinner that night I was tired and ready for bed. I got a good sleep until about 4 am and then up at 4:30 to get ready.

Fortunately, I was calm for most of the lead up to this race and I was feeling confident. Regardless, it was nice to hang and chat with Dieter and Michael on race morning, rather than being in my own head too much. We had breakfast then made our way down to transition to get setup. When I brought my pump back to my room Carm and the kids were awake it was great to talk to them before heading to the swim start.

It’s always packed down on the beach and a little stressful getting through the crowds to the water to get a swim warm-up. Since having some panic attacks in the water several years ago, a swim warm-up is a critical part of my pre-race routine. It should be part of everyone’s routine. As it turns out I had plenty of time and I had a great warm-up. National anthem, CF-18 flyover and fireworks to start the pros. They do it properly for this race. I was ready to go. I seeded myself in the 29 to 32-minute start area and soon enough I was in the water to start the swim.

Swim

The rolling swim start (3 athletes every few seconds) was great and I could see that there was enough room to swim very close to the buoy line, so that is what I attempted to do, so I could take the shortest distance. Some previous swim times have been slower than expected, not because I actually swam slow, but because I didn’t swim straight and swam more than I needed to. Early in the swim some negative thoughts started to creep in (that can be the start of a panic) but I was able to deal with those and slowly my confidence grew. Even in the pool it takes me 500+ metres to find my groove, so this was not a surprise. As I approached the first turn (750m) I was feeling confident and ready to deal with the contact that comes at the turn. After that I was in race mode, feeling confident and relaxed, drafting off other swimmers and racing those around me for the remainder of the swim. When I stood up and looked at my watch it said 30 min 45 seconds and I was pleased. 1:38/100m pace. That’s a good swim for me. A good start to the day and a nice mental boost.

39 out of 417 in my age group. 252nd overall.

Wetsuit stripping went quickly and I ran the 400m fast to my bike through the noise of the crowds. Olivia ran beside me, waving and screaming, for about 200m. That was awesome!

Waving to the family. Happy to be done the swim.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bike

Mental approach: Confidence. I know what I can do. Don’t let my brain talk me back from that. Keep pushing back the negative/conservative thoughts, and let the confidence grow as the race proceeds. Carrying over from the last part of the swim I was in race mode right away. My legs were feeling good and I had to pull back a little for the first few km to get settled in. My power and HR were in a good place immediately. A very good sign. First 10 km average power 214 watts (226 normalized), HR 161. Exactly what I was hoping for. Miranda, Adam and I had done several sessions with long intervals at this level of effort so it was familiar, but there is always the question about whether I can sustain it for 90 km.

Once out on the highway I continued to ride assertively. If I got stuck behind a group of people I would make the move to pass them all, with a bit of a surge. I did that a bunch of times. This is a departure from how I would have ridden in the past. Much more confident and assertive. Last year I was too tentative to pass through groups and I got a 5 minute drafting penalty. I was very conscious to avoid that happening again.

First 50 km average power 225 watts (normalized 231), HR 159. I felt, at this point, that what I was doing was sustainable, even though it was getting harder to maintain. In the last 20-30 km I noticed that I wasn’t passing people as easily as before. I took that as I sign that I was more towards the front and with some stronger cyclists.

Before heading into the hilly section on Duplessis I took most of the remainder of my concentrated Eload and Fly mixture, knowing it would be hard to drink through this section as it is either hard climbing or fast descending. My energy was still great and my nutrition had been bang on throughout. The hilly Duplessis section was a lot of fun, going back and forth with other athletes. Passing, getting passed. Climbing slowly, descending very fast. I love this section of the course, despite the tough climbs.

First 80 km (before descending Duplessis) average power 221 watts (normalized 228), HR 159.

I had been watching my power numbers throughout the ride but I didn’t know how that was translating into speed. It felt fast, but who knows. As I was getting close to transition I took a peak at my overall time and I knew it had been a fast bike and I was in a good position for a personal best. My mind immediately went to ‘maybe you don’t have to push it so hard on the run to get a good overall time’. Ummm no! I didn’t let that thought linger much, and it’s not really in my nature to run that way anyway.

Final power numbers – average 216 watts (226 normalized), HR 159. Those are the best power numbers I’ve had in a race of this distance. I don’t feel like I could have ridden any better on this day. Very satisfying because I feel like I’ve been on the verge of doing this but not quite able to do it before. Why now? On top of my regular training I did consistent strength work through the winter (more consistent than ever before) and riding with more confidence in this race.

Bike – 2:27:46, 36 km/hr, 12th in my age group, 85th overall. Moved up to 15th in my age group.

Run

As I was running out of transition Olivia was running beside me and screaming like crazy…again. Awesome!

As soon as I was off my bike and running through transition I could feel that my legs were good. I don’t struggle for confidence on the run, usually, so when I started seeing my run splits a little quicker than plan, I decided to go with it. Maybe in hindsight that was a mistake, but at the time I was feeling pretty good, and I was still in a race mode. For the first 10 km I ran strong and passed some strong runners. I don’t remember the specific moment when things changed but somewhere out on the rail trail, around the turnaround I started to hurt. My energy was still good but I just could not turn my legs over as quickly. The last 8 km was a major grind. Getting to the end of the rail trail seemed to take forever, and it only gets harder from there. I was just going from aid station to aid station, convincing myself not to walk until I was at the aid station. My legs were sore and felt like they were stuck in glue. I focused on as quick a turnover as I could manage and getting nutrition from the aid stations. It felt like I was getting passed a lot (by people who I had passed earlier), but I had no ability to react to that. I was in ‘just get to the finish’ mode.

I did manage to pass a few people on the last few hills but I still wasn’t moving very fast. I suppose this is what it feels like to push to the limit. I sure feel like I went to my limit.

Run splits
5 km = 21:20 = 4:16/km, 166 bpm (up and down hills)
5 km = 21:18 = 4:15/km, 171 bpm (flat)
5 km = 22:58 = 4:35/km, 174 bpm (gradual climb)
5 km = 24:33 = 4:54/km, 171 bpm (up and down)
Last km = 4:45, 177 bpm (up the final hill and down the middle of the village)

Overall run 1:34:29, 4:28/km. 30th in my age group, 148 overall. Down to 15th in my age group for final position. 105th overall in a time of 4:39.27.

‘Crawling’ over the finish line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m most pleased with how I ‘raced’ this race. It made for a miserable final 8 km, but that painful memory is already starting to fade.

Thank you to Carm, Olivia and Norah for the ongoing support and amazing cheering. Also, to the other friends who were cheering us last Sunday. It really helps.

Thank you to Miranda for the amazing coaching. You probably knew I could race this fast more than I did. To Christine for the athletic conditioning that keeps me injury free.

Thank you to my training partners, my clients and everybody at WattsUp, who provide endless inspiration.

Thanks for reading!

#IMMuskoka 2015 Race Report

I’m running along Hwy 60 going from Deerhurst to Huntsville early in the second loop of the marathon with about 16 km to go and these are the thoughts going through my head;

  • The rest of this is going to be really hard
  • Do whatever you can so that you don’t blow up. You CAN DO THIS! You are catching a lot of people but if you end up walking a lot (a possibility at any moment) then what you’ve done to this point will be wasted.
  • Breathe, relax, just get to the next aid station and take it from there

When considering all the things that can happen in a race of this distance and all the things we worry about when thinking about the race, it’s nice to get to this point in the race and still be in relatively good shape and in position for a good overall result…but I still had to keep moving and finish it off.

How did I get to this point?

When I signed up for the Muskoka Ironman I knew that I was going to have to get beyond my negative attitude about the bike course. Thinking about the bike course did not bring confident thoughts to mind and the thought of doing the half Ironman bike course twice followed by a marathon certainly brought some fear. There was a lot of work to be done. As much mental as physical.

By the time race week arrived I was in a completely different place. I was looking forward to riding the course and although I wasn’t naïve about the challenge ahead of me, I wasn’t intimidated by it. A marathon to follow? Yep, I’m ready for that. Bring it on!

A huge part of it was doing some challenging training sessions on the course. I did an early June training weekend with friends and clients. That involved a 130 km ride on the course followed by a run off the bike. Next day a long run on the run course. In early July I raced the Muskoka 70.3 race. A few weeks later I was back up in Muskoka for a 180 km training ride that ended up being in the pouring rain and 15 degrees (freezing for me). Next day a long run on the run course. Late July another 190 km training ride in 30+ degrees with a lot of humidity. Miserable 60 min run/walk after the bike in 34 degrees.

All of this training and racing was hard, but by getting through it in one piece it gave me a lot of confidence. I love racing Ironman but I love the process of preparing even more. Incremental improvements from consistent training, starting in October, until one of those final big training sessions when I knew I was ready.

Bike tuned and ready for the trip to Muskoka

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see from all the training, this simply does not happen without a huge amount of support from my family, especially Carm. Riding pretty much every Saturday morning since October and numerous nights away in Muskoka for training. Thank you Carm, Olivia and Norah!! I love you and appreciate the sacrifices that get made to allow me to train and race.

Swim

A good pre-race swim warm-up plus a rolling swim start provided the ideal conditions for the calmest Ironman swim start I’ve had. I had zero contact with other swimmers, other than people touching my feet as they were drafting me. I had my own water very quickly and settled into a good groove. I was calm and positive and wasn’t even bothered by the fact that someone was drafting me and frequently touching my feet. Whatever. I was relaxed yet moving well so if someone was getting a draft, then fine. I was very comfortable in the water, my mind rarely wandered and I was confident. The time passed quickly. It was a good start to the day.

Swim time = 1:03.21 (1:40/100m). 137 overall and 22/166 in my age group.

Transition was fun with a lot of people lining the run up from the swim exit to Deerhurst where we went inside to get ready for the bike. I saw Carm, the kids and other people but honestly it was all kind of a blur.

Bike

Coach Miranda is smart and I trust her advice. I tend to ride conservative (too conservative at times) and was planning an easy start but she suggested that it would be fine to immediately get into my suggested power zones, rather than starting easier. This worked out very well. I felt really good on the bike immediately. I was having fun and relaxed; thanking the people cheering on the course and having small exchanges with other athletes. Ultimately for the first 30 km of the bike I was slightly above my overall power target, yet felt great. This was a good strong start to the bike. At times I was concerned about the impact of this later in the day but it never became an issue.

It was fun to see people I knew along the course, in Dorset, Baysville, at some aid stations and other places along the route.

At about the 60 km mark I was passed by a few guys that I know and wanted to be competitive with. I very nearly did some chasing but I thought better of it and checked my ego and said to myself ‘it’s still very early in this day…get them later’. I did think a few of them might be pushing too hard, too early and if so I’d see them later on the bike or on the run. I was riding at the level I needed to and I was going to stick with it.

Loop one done in 2hr 50 min. Average speed 31.7 km/hr, average power 174 watts, 184 watts normalized. Average HR 148 bpm. Pretty much right on what I was planning for.

Early in the second loop we went through the village of Dwight and the road along the beach was lined with people screaming. The first time through it was pretty quiet so this was unexpected. In all the screaming I heard someone call out my name but I still don’t know who it was. All the noise gave me chills and a huge boost of energy starting the last 80 km.

The second loop went very well. Better than expected, given the difficulty of the course. This is where I feel the benefit of the hard training on this course paid off. The wind had picked up on the second loop so I knew I was going slower but it didn’t bother me. I could see that other people were fading and I was still feeling quite good with plenty of energy. I chose (before the race) a 10 km stretch between Dorset and Baysville (from 130-140 km) to ride above my power target, if I could. I thought it would be a nice boost to my state of mind and it worked. I was able to hold 190 watts through this section without killing myself and it really gave me a confidence boost that I carried through for the remainder of the ride. The last 9 km of the bike is a very hilly section and given that it is at the very end of the ride I expected it to be brutal, but ultimately it wasn’t too bad, and soon I was done the bike.

Loop two done in 2hr 55 min. Average speed 30.8 km/hr, average power 173 watts, 181 watts normalized, average HR 158 bpm. Other than the drop in speed due to the wind this was very close to the first half and indicates that I did a good job of pacing the bike and taking in my nutrition.

Bike time = 5:44.30 (31.2 km/hr). 174 average power, 182 normalized. HR avg 153 bpm. Overall position down to 143 overall and 24th in my age group. I’d lost a little ground as expected by not a lot, and now it was onto my strength…catching people on the run!

Run

As with the bike course I’d done a lot of running on this run course so I knew it very well.

My focus of the first 10 km (running from Deerhurst into Huntsville) was to get settled in and make sure my heart rate didn’t get too high. My stomach wasn’t great starting the run but within a few km things had settled and I felt good. Legs and energy pretty good, considering a 180 km bike ride. My heart rate was not as low as I would have hoped, but that wasn’t a big surprise. I set a slightly higher target and stayed pretty close to that. I had asked Carm if she could let me know what position I was in (in my age group) starting the run. I thought that would provide me some motivation when things got tough on the run. She relayed to Miranda that I was 24th coming off the bike. Honestly I was surprised I was that far back, expecting to be top 20. Pre-race my goal for the run was to run as close to 3:20 as I could. Very quickly it became obvious that this wasn’t going to happen. However I wasn’t discouraged by that. I could see the carnage on the run and I knew if I could just keep plugging away that I’d move way up in the field. Maybe I could get top 15 in my AG.

It took me about 5 km until I started catching a few guys in my AG and once that started it was hugely motivating. It was hot on the run, especially coming back towards Deerhurst when the sun is directly behind, and people were hurting. I felt controlled and in minimal discomfort (relatively!) for the first 25 km. At that point things started to really hurt and it was a grind. My whole mindset at that point became to just keep myself from blowing up. That meant being careful not to go so fast that I would need to walk to recover and VERY important to keep drinking water, cola, Redbull, and my flask with Eload and salt. I was passing a lot of guys in my AG (a few who had passed me on the bike; the long awaited reward for my patience!) and I knew if I could avoid a blow-up that I would continue to move up the field. It helped a lot to see Carm, Mike, Heather and other friends all over the course. The benefit of an Ironman relatively close to home. Coach Miranda was all over the course too, on her bike, providing words of encouragement and reminding me to eat/drink and stay cool.

Getting props from my brother Mike.

The last 10 km was tough. I was counting off the kilometres and pretty much running from aid station to aid station where I would walk while I put water over my head and drink water and cola. I left just enough in the tank to speed up a bit for the last km (4:50/km). As usual hugely satisfying to get to the finish line. My finish line catcher was Rob Wright who I know from WattsUp, and it was nice to have a familiar person take care of me until he handed me off to Carm and the kids. It was great to have Carm, Olivia, Norah, Mike, Heather and Miranda at the finish.

Running down the finishers chute

Running down the finishers chute

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to my Garmin the run course was a little over 41 km

First 10 km in 50:10

Second 10 in 49:57

Third 10 km in 51:17

Fourth 10 km in 52:51

Overall a pretty good job of pacing the run. As always happens in the days after a race, once my destroyed legs stop hurting I think ‘maybe I could have gone faster than that’, but in reality I was at my limit on the run, and on that particular day I don’t think I could have run 1 minute faster.

Overall run time of 3:30.30 (5:05/km). Average HR 160 bpm.

Final finish 10:26:40. 60th overall and 8th in the M40-44 AG. Passed 83 people on the run and 16 in my AG.

 

Nice to get a picture with the family after the race.

Nice to get a picture with the family after the race.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were 5 Hawaii spots in my AG so I thought I had an outside chance to get a spot but no such luck! The 5 spots were taken by the top 5 finishers. 3 spots seems close but in reality it was over 25 minutes from me to the 5th place finisher. Ultimately Hawaii is not the reason I do this, but one day it would be pretty cool to qualify and it does provide some motivation.

Post-race I hung around the finish line to wait for a few of my athletes and friends to finish, to soak up the atmosphere, and managed to limp my way into Deerhurst for some food and a shower. As usual I managed to get back to the finish line for midnight to see the final finishers. Always a highlight of the day.

Thank you:

– To all the people who were on the course cheering, including many friends; that was amazing and a huge lift! Plus all those that couldn’t make it but sent notes of encouragement.

– To Dieter for being a great training partner and joining me for those epic training sessions.

– To coach Miranda who got me to the start line very well trained, yet fresh and uninjured. To Christine McLean whose weekly sessions contributed a lot to keeping me uninjured and able to handle to workload.

– To my family for the constant support so I can race and train and basically act like a kid!

 

Thanks for reading!

2014 Keys To Success

I’ve been fortunate to have successful triathlon seasons in 2013 and 2014, setting personal bests across all distances. Below are some of the key elements that have led to my success.

Dedicated Base Building Period 

Starting the season easy with mostly Zone 2 training creates an extended period of low intensity training, when combined with some strength work can set up your season very well. This takes a lot of patience because you feel very fresh and it’s very tempting to hammer it, but I believe it’s a mistake to have too much intensity too early in the season, and I see that a lot. It’s important to let go of the ego, accept that you are not race fit (why do you need to be in January?) and trust the process. Having a period of lower intensity training is a nice mental break from harder workouts, and also there are important physiological benefits too. At this intensity you are using your slow twitch muscle fibers which improves the ability to use fat for fuel, making your use of available energy stores more efficient. A strong base/aerobic system is absolutely critical for endurance athletes.

Here is a link to an article talking about the benefits of Z2 training

http://home.trainingpeaks.com/blog/article/zone-2-training-for-endurance-athletes

Using A Coach

For the last 2 years I have had a coach to guide my training. This has allowed me to simply execute my training without having to make daily decisions about what training I should be doing and avoid the ‘decision fatigue’ that comes along with thinking about that. Also, my coach has pushed me harder than I would have pushed myself and this has redefined my limits.

Here is an article on the top 7 reasons for using a coach

http://home.trainingpeaks.com/blog/article/the-top-7-reasons-to-work-with-a-coach

Greatly Improved Sleeping Habits

This has not been an easy change to make, and it’s an ongoing battle, but wow what a difference it makes! It allows me to be very consistent with my training and have the energy to handle the hard workouts. I’ve become a morning person which I’ve never been in my life before.

 Improved nutrition

Cleaner eating, including way more fruits and vegetables than I have ever eaten before, contributed significantly to my daily energy and overall health.

 Consistent Training Month-After-Month

Using a coach, adequate sleep/rest,d and improved nutrition all contribute to consistent training and that is probably THE biggest key to success.

 Mental Performance and Self-Belief

For all the physical training that we do it’s amazing how much our state of mind plays a key role. We all have self-imposed limits and it’s so important to challenge those limits and try to break them down because we can do so much more than we think we can. I often see my athletes surprise themselves with what they can achieve.  That applies to training and racing. It’s important to allow ourselves to dream and use those dreams to drive our willingness and motivation. After 15 years as a triathlete, I’m seeing results that I would not have thought realistic yet there they are. I still have plenty of work to do with my mental performance and self-belief but more and more, when I think of some tough goals, I think ‘Why not and why not me?’. 

 

I hope some of this can be helpful for you to improve in 2015. If you have any questions about any of these keys to success feel free to send me a note and I’d be happy to expand.

70.3 World Championships Race Report

On June 22 I had a great race in Syracuse, NY and successfully qualified for the 70.3 World Championships in Mont Tremblant a few weeks ago on September 7, 2014. I was excited to go back to Tremblant to race as it is an incredible race venue.

After Syracuse I needed a bit of a mental and physical break so I took about 10 days of unstructured training. It felt good to take the foot off the gas pedal for a bit and sure enough the desire to get back to hard training came back.

Training towards the world championships went well, and it was some of the hardest training I’ve ever done. Coach Miranda is very good at pushing me to redefine my limits without crushing me.

3 weeks before Tremblant I raced the Orillia sprint distance and had a good race, finishing 11th overall and second in my Age Group(AG). Although much shorter than a half Ironman, it was a good confirmation that training was going well and I was in a good place to race well at 70.3 worlds. Then I struggled a bit in the last few weeks of my training as I could feel myself getting tired physically and mentally. This impacted my confidence a bit, but by the time I had tapered into the race I was rested and ready to go.

We were fortunate enough to be staying at our friends’ condo just up the hill from the pedestrian village in Tremblant and it was great. Coming back to race in Tremblant felt amazing. There is something about the area that really puts me at ease, even in the midst of the pre-race excitement/tension. This was my 4th visit to train or race in Tremblant in two years and it felt very comfortable to me.

Mont Tremblant

OK, onto the race itself…

Swim

I knew this was going to be a fast start so I chose to hang back for a few seconds at the start. Combined with an excellent 15 min warm-up, this helped me to quickly find my rhythm. Given this was a world championship I was surprised that it wasn’t a rougher start, but then again I wasn’t up at the front of the group, so who knows what was going on up there. On the final leg back to the finish I swam side-by-side with another guy going the exact same speed I was going and at the same stroke rate. It was perfect. We made eye contact several times and a non-verbal agreement was made…’let’s do this the remainder of the way’. Even when we lost each other for a moment we would reconnect and get back in sync. The impact of this, if you can stay close enough together, is that for the same amount of effort you go faster.

All in all a very comfortable swim. 31:23 (1:38/100m) – 138/247 AG

T1

Timing chip came off when I had my wetsuit stripped and I wiped out while running in the change tent, but other than that it was an uneventful T1 J. It’s a great 400m run into the change tent. Lined with people cheering. It’s very loud and you can’t help but smile.

run

 

Bike

Very quickly I realized that it was going to be a crowded bike course. The problem with this is that it is illegal to draft and therefore you are forced to constantly make decisions about whether to drop back to avoid drafting or spend the energy to pass someone. If you choose to pass, but don’t have the room to slot in between two riders without drafting, then you better make sure that you can pass them both. The goal was to hold about 220-230 watts for the opening 10 km out to Hwy 177 but that didn’t happen (201 watts). Regardless I felt pretty good on the bike and once out on the highway I got settled at my goal power, taking it 10 km at a time. For the next 30 km I averaged 217 watts. Right about what I was looking for. During this time I got passed by a couple of huge packs of people riding in a group and drafting. This was annoying and disappointing, since it’s against the rules, but I’ve since heard that it is the norm at the 70.3 World Championships. Anyway, I wanted to race my race without drafting, and if others were going to do it that way, then so be it.

Over the final 50 km I averaged 200 watts which was well below what I was aiming for. I think it was a combination of a few things. I was fatiguing, I lost some of my focus, I wasn’t aggressive enough (see reasons to hurt in my run summary), and I had to slow to avoid drafting. A good lesson for the future. I still at times struggle to push hard enough on the bike for fear that I won’t run well afterwards. In hindsight I must admit that this was in the back of my mind.

Anyway I had a decent bike split but to be fair it’s faster when it is a busy bike course like that.

Bike time 2:32:44 (35.3 km/hr) – 178/247 AG (35 km/hr and 177 guys in my age group went faster!!)

For those interested in power numbers…

0-10 km 201 AP (215 NP). HR 161.

10-51 km 213 AP (219 NP). HR 160.

51-75 km 201 AP (214 NP). HR 159.

75-81 km 210 AP (217 NP). Climbing but plenty of descending too. HR 161.

81-90 km 170 AP (186 NP). Congested while descending. Trying not to crash!

T2

I had to stop to take a pee while starting the run. That was my third time since the beginning of the bike. Not sure what that was all about!

Run

I felt quite good as soon as I started running. No stomach issues. Temperature was perfect for running. It was a challenging course with very few flat sections and a several challenging hills at the end of each loop. I didn’t know what damage the hills at the end of the first loop would inflict, so I choose to settle in at a comfortable pace for the first loop, rather than risk going out too fast. Overall about a 4:25/km pace for the first 11 km. The plan was to then pick it up for the second half but I didn’t. The pace for the final 10 km was about 4:30/km. Not terrible but not what I was hoping for. I realize now that my goals for this race were a bit loose and I wasn’t obsessed by them. I’m OK with that given that the big goal was to qualify for this race but it really shows that you need a compelling reason to hurt a lot and I didn’t have that reason in that final 10 km.

Even still I really enjoyed the final km running through the crowds in the village, stopping to hug my kids and taking a brief moment to appreciate the awesome season I’ve had this year. I’m normally too focused (and hurting) at this point to reflect, so this was a nice change.

Run time1:34 (4:28/km) 83/247 AG

run2

Overall I finished in 4:46:38 and 141/247 in my age group and had a very enjoyable time. Fortunately we were able to stay at our friends’ condo on the Sunday night, even while they returned home to Ottawa. It was very nice to be able to relax after the race and go out for dinner in the village.

fans

Here is a video of the race and I get a brief on-the-bike interview. The wheelchair athlete climbing the hill in the village is incredible!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIdADDk-pxQ

 

Thank you for reading and to the MANY people who support me along the way in different ways, especially my family!

In my next blog I’ll talk about what I think were the most important lessons I learned in training and racing this season.

Now onto the off-season…

Syracuse 70.3 Race Report

Attempting To Qualify For 70.3 World Championships

In Muskoka last September I saw a friend and former client have a great race and qualify for the 2014 70.3 World Championships in Mont-Tremblant. I was inspired and a seed was planted. I chose that to be my goal for 2014 and eventually settled on the Syracuse 70.3 race for my qualification attempt. To be honest, I thought Syracuse would be an ‘easier’ place to qualify because it would be less popular and the hilly course would work to my favour. So much for that as the race sold out for the first time and there were 250 guys in my AG (Age Group)! I estimated I needed a top 10 finish to get a spot. This was certainly a stretch goal but with the help of my coach Miranda I was feeling great in all 3 sports and ready to have a very strong race. My training had gone very well and I was uninjured.

PRE-RACE – Nervous as usual but not too bad. My friend Derek was with me, and racing too, and we just made jokes about the stupid things that we do when we are nervous about these races. Seeing 250 guys on the beach for the start was intimidating but mostly I was focused on executing a good race and then see what happens with regards to qualifying.

Me and Miranda

Me and coach Miranda pre-race (she was 5th overall female pro!)

 

SWIM – I knew I needed to push a bit in each phase of this race, which is a different mentality than the more conservative approach I’m used to. At the start I was into open water quickly. It looked like I was near the front group of swimmers from my wave. What?!!! Not used to that! I was comfortable with my effort and I knew I could continue at that speed. I just needed to keep my head in the game and not revert to a nice easy comfortable pace. So I kept pushing. I thought about whether I should look at my watch at the end to see my time or not. If I had the time I thought I did it would be a good mental boost but I didn’t want to be disappointed. Ultimately I did look and I was very happy to see it was under 31 minutes. Whoa! That’s new territory for me. 1:35/100m pace. Not a lot of bikes gone from transition as I made my way through quickly.

BIKE – I had been able to train on the course 3 weeks ago so I knew what to expect. The first 15 km is climbing, so it was important to hit my goal power numbers but also be patient and not overdo it. I was able to do that and my legs were feeling pretty good. After those initial hills, the course has some very fast sections and I really felt like I was flying. Through each 10km section I was hitting my goal power numbers (210-220 watts) but it was certainly getting harder as time went by. I stayed aggressive with regards to passing people, rather than backing off and taking a break. My glutes were fatiguing and I knew the run would be a grind. I finished the bike knowing I had ridden well but had no idea what my bike split was or where I stood in my AG. As I came through, I did a quick count of the bikes in transition for my AG, and there weren’t many. I figured I was in a good position but there was still a very hilly 21 km run to negotiate. I was tired but confident that I could still put together a solid run.

Bike Profile

Bike Profile

RUN – I knew the run was going to hurt and it did not disappoint! It’s a tough run course with very little flat. Within the first 400m, there is an uphill grassy section that put an early sting into my legs. My goal for the run course was to run an average pace of 4:18/km (1hr 30 min). I was on that pace through the first 4 km but that was before the big hill. I had trained on the course and run the nasty hill a couple of times in that training session, and was left with the impression, That’s not so bad, what’s the big deal? That run, however, did not follow a hard bike and that made a huge difference. Somehow the hill had grown and become steeper since I had trained on it! First time on the hill I was going so slow that I decided I’d walk at a similar pace but use a bit less energy, so I walked a bit. Other than aid stations, walking on a run course is not something I do…ever! I just don’t let myself go there because it gets too easy to walk again. But I did need to walk. I was disappointed I had to/chose to walk, but I wasn’t broken and this was not the start of a run meltdown. Everyone was struggling through this section. The 4:18 pace was not going to happen but I quickly adjusted my expectations and aimed for an overall 4:30 pace. Through 10 km I was on 4:22 pace. Through 15 km I was at 4:29 pace. After the last turnaround with 5-6 km to go I tried to re-set my focus and go hard to the finish. I got settled in with another runner who was running about 4:30 pace and I just hung there until 1 km to go then I tried to drive hard to the finish. Run was 1:33:14 (4:30/km pace).

Run Profile

Run Profile

At the end of all that I finished 10th in my AG with a time of 4:44:04. There were 8 automatic qualifying spots for the 70.3 world championships in Mont-Tremblant and luckily for me 2 people did not take their spot, so I snagged a spot! After looking at the results, I am very pleased to have held it together on the run. If I had been just 1 minute slower, I’m in 14th place and I don’t get a spot. I’m very excited to go back to race in Mont-Tremblant!!

Thank you for reading and thank you to everyone who supports me.

Z2 Training Critical To Endurance Athletes

Here’s a great article why Zone 2 training is critical. It’s detailed and a good read. Enjoy and share with your fellow endurance athletes.

Key Points:

Teach your body to use fat as fuel. This is important to conserve your carbohydrate stores for later in races when you need to up the intensity (short distance triathlons) or for finishing a long distance race strong by still having carbohydrate stores for fuel.

Develop the muscle fibers that are responsible clearing lactate. The ability to clear lactate is critical to performance.

http://home.trainingpeaks.com/blog/article/zone-2-training-for-endurance-athletes

Ironman Mont Tremblant Race Report

High level – The day could not have gone better. For a 10+ hour race I’d say this was as close to perfect as I could dream of. When you PB by over 30 min, it’s been a good day! Even my transitions went well!

  • Swim 1:05
  • T1 5:16
  • Bike 5:33
  • T2 2:16
  • Run 3:30
  • Total 10:16

27/407 Age group Men40-44, 123/2200 overall

 

PRE-RACE

I was feeling some pressure about performing well, but that pressure was entirely self-inflicted.  As always I had some doubts about being able to perform to my expectations. I REALLY wanted to put together a race that demonstrated what I considered is my potential. Although I’ve been happy with previous IM results I always felt there was more I could do. My prep for this race was basically flawless. I was more ready for this than any previous IM races.

Mont Tremblant is an incredible venue for a race. Lots of family and friends were around and I had 3 clients racing also.  I knew that having so many people around would be inspiring the day of the race.

I wasn’t overly nervous about the race but taking care of the logistics (checking in, special needs bags, transition bags, bike prep) always has me a bit on edge. Staying 300m from transition was fantastic and made for an easy walk down in the morning.

 

SWIM

It was a wave start for the swim making it very civilized. I started left of the main pack and swam the first 1800 m mostly on my own – not completely straight but in the right direction. I struggled at times to keep my mind focused, but overall did a good job of this. After the turnaround I decided to be more aggressive and swim in the midst of the pack to get some draft. Ultimately it was a pretty uneventful swim that passed quickly. I swam well by my standards (sub 1:40/100m pace) but covered some extra distance by not going straight.

Swim time 1:05:20, 1:43/100m, 67/407 AG, 313 OA

I was out of the water and quickly out of my wetsuit with the help of the strippers. The run to transition is about 400m long through a tunnel of cheering people. It’s amazing. My Achilles bothered me a bit on this short run which was a bit concerning but nothing to think about now. I had a dedicated volunteer all to myself in transition and was quickly on my bike. I missed the sunscreen people and hoped that wouldn’t be an issue later.

 

BIKE

My plan was to go easy (below goal power of 165-175 watts average) for the first 10 km of the bike out to Hwy 117. I averaged 162 watts for that section – Perfect!  When I am able to warm up properly it makes a big difference to my ride performance, particularly late in the ride. However it requires a serious ego check because it means getting passed by many people. And I was passed… a lot… but it made me smile because I could see that many of the people passing me were working way too hard way too early. In Ironman you usually pay a heavy price for this mistake.

The next 50 km of the bike is along Hwy 117 and a short out and back in St. Jovite. This section felt fast. I don’t look at speed on my bike computer so I didn’t actually know how fast I was going but my power was in the proper range and nice and even – 170 avg, 177 normalized.  Even power output is critical for managing energy over a long distance race. It wasn’t overly warm yet but I still made sure to drink a lot in anticipation of a warm afternoon. This also resulted in me taking the liberty to relieve myself of all these fluids 4-5 times on the bike – sorry for the extra details! I made sure to stay on top of my carbs and salt to maintain a proper balance with the water.

Back into town via Montee Ryan, then first time through the hilly Duplesis section. Still feeling strong but energy has dropped a bit. I allow myself a quick look at the time towards the end of the first loop and it confirms that it’s been a fast loop at 2hr 44 min (33 km/hr). I wonder if I’ve overdone it a bit but that’s the beauty of riding by power. I know I haven’t overdone my power – 169 AP/177 NP. The goal for the second half of the bike is simply to ride 165-175 watts average. The challenge is on. This is the real test of my bike training. How will my endurance be? Well, as it turns out I was very ready for this part of the day. My endurance was great and every time I thought I might struggle to maintain my power, it was right where it needed to be. There were a lot less people riding with me by the end of Hwy 117 the second time and I didn’t surge to get rid of them but rather just rode steady at my comfort level and people fell off; this is new for me. Before I started the climb up Duplesis the second time I allowed myself to look at my bike time again. I knew it was going to be a good time and I was pleased by what I saw. With just the hilly section to go I was 5:05! I knew I’d be around 5:30-5:35 for the ride. This was better than I expected. Prior to the race I thought this was possible but I thought it would mean I had gone too hard. Although I was tired, I knew I could still run well. I had done well to take in all aspects of my nutrition (carbs, salt, water). I was ready for the run!

Second loop in 2:49 – 32 km/hr (164 AP/173 NP)

Overall bike stats:

Bike time 5:33:14, 32.5 km/hr. 65/407 AG. Up to 62 in my AG and 241 OA
167 AP/176 NP = 1.05 VI
.69 IF (based on a threshold of 255 watts)
2.79 w/kg
TSS = 265

 

RUN

The goal for the first 10 km of the run was to be careful not to go too fast. This can spell disaster. Initially I had thought no faster than 50 min but coach Miranda suggested that it would be ok to be between 4:45 and 5:00 per km. She was right on the mark with that. I ran the first 10 km in 48:40 and it was fine. I was tired but I knew if I could just keep my energy up with my nutrition I could deal with the other issues and keep from slowing down too much. Second 10 km (coming back into the village) in 49:09. What a rush to run through the village and head out for lap #2. I saw my parents and gave them a high five. Carm and the kids were there too but I somehow missed them. My first loop was 1:42:41. Looking good as long as I don’t fall apart.

The last 21 km of an IM marathon is such a mental grind that I think it’s very important to have something to focus on to keep you moving. Walking very slowly through aid stations starts to get very attractive.

With a 1:43 first half I knew if I could run close to 5 min kilometers to finish I’d achieve my goal of a sub 3:30 marathon. Easier said than done but this is what I focused on to keep me going. I had my Garmin set to give me 1 km splits so I could see I was doing ok but it was hard. My neck, feet, quads, IT band, Achilles and glutes were killing me, plus multiple areas of chaffing, but my energy was good thanks to coke and water at almost every aid station and my spirits were up.

My goal for this race was sub 10:30 yet my foggy math was telling me I could possibly go sub 10:20. I didn’t allow myself to really believe that until I was inside 5 km and then I knew I’d bury myself if I had to, now that I was that close. I was able to calculate that I started 13 min after the pros so I needed to subtract 13 min from the race clock to see my actual time. Coming through the village to finish is just incredible and then to see 10:29 on the clock, for a race time of 10:16 was just crazy. I yelled and pumped my fists above my head to finish. Second 21 km in about 1:47 for a marathon time of 3:30 (just under by my watch!).

Run time 3:30, 4:59/km, 13/407 AG. Up to 27 in my AG and 123 OA

 

FINISH

In the finish/food area I was a bit overcome by emotion and sat down with my head in my hands. Not sure why I get like this post-IM but it’s a lot of different emotions at once…proud of the year-long training, happy to not be suffering anymore, and thrilled with the race itself. One of the medical guys kept asking me if I was ok, thinking I was going to pass out. I wasn’t, I just needed a moment to gather myself and begin to wrap my head around my race. When I saw my family shortly after I was a bit choked up again. After that I got to enjoy seeing many friends and clients finish and spend time with them in the finish area recapping our races.

No IMMT race report would be complete however without a mention that they served pizza, poutine, sausage and BEER in the finisher tent post-race!  I have to admit that tall boy went down smooth.

My three clients also had excellent races and this just made the day that much more incredibly special and satisfying.

A few people told me I had a chance of going to Kona with my time …ya right! Out of curiosity to see if it was true, I did in fact go to the roll-down on Monday and the final spot in my AG went to the 18th placed person (I was 27th) who was 10 min ahead of me. Way closer than I would have ever thought possible. One day…

What now? This race has really reset the bar for me. Can I go sub 10? Can I actually get to Kona? I say yes and YES! These are things I have never even considered before but they will certainly provide me with a ton of motivation moving forward.

 

So many people to thank…

My wife Carm who is an Iron spectator extraordinaire but more impressively supports my coaching and racing all year long. My kids who show such interest and enthusiasm for my triathlon passion. My parents who have come to all 3 of my IM races so far.

My clients, many of which are also training partners, who show a ton of dedication and help me learn so much.

WattsUp – Pete and Adam for their support and guidance in many, many ways.

Miranda who coached me for the last three months and had me extremely well prepared, physically and mentally for this race.

All the clients at WattsUp who dedicate themselves to their own goals and show such interest in what I’m training for. It’s an amazing community to be part of.

 

CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS

Consistent training month after month. No replacement for this. It should be pointed out that I did not train crazy hours to achieve this result. My maximum training week was 15 hours and in the last 3 months I averaged about 12 hours. However, for the last 10 months my training has been focused and high quality.

Being coached by Miranda for the last 3 months heading into the race. We all get doubts about our preparation so having a coach really helps to keep the training smart. An objective viewpoint is invaluable. Even a coach needs a coach! Thanks Miranda.

Race nutrition. My race nutrition was absolutely dialed in because I’d been practicing it for months. My energy was good all day long and no stomach issues. Thank you Eload!

Mental preparation that allowed me to stay positive all day long and simply execute my race plan without reacting emotionally to what was going on around me.

 

Another race done, another report written …thanks for reading!

Looking Ahead To 2013: Part 3

This is the final installment on this topic focused on changing bad habits, new equipment and addressing injuries. You can still view the first two parts of this 3-part series about planning for your 2013 triathlon season Part 1  Part 2  

 

CHANGING BAD HABITS

What a great time of year to get focused on changing some bad habits that impact your training and performance in a negative way. Here are some that I think are the most important and also some of the most neglected by many people. If you ask yourself honestly you know that some of these are an issue.

 

#1  – Sleep!

Are you getting enough of it? 7-8 hours most nights? I have managed to make this change over the last 6 months and it wasn’t easy but it has made a big difference for me, mostly in making me more enthusiastic about my training, because I am less tired. One way to make this change is to get up at the same time each day. You will find yourself tired in the evening and therefore going to bed earlier. Also, before I go to bed I decide what I am going to do when I wake in the morning, so I have a very concrete reason to get up. That reason might be a workout or getting some work done, but the decision is made the night before, not when I’m lying in my bed, in a daze, looking for excuses not to get out of bed.

Do not underestimate the impact of regularly not getting enough sleep. It impacts your recovery and over time impacts the consistency of your training.

 

#2 – Food and Water

Are you making the right choices for food? Are you drinking enough water during the day?

Pre-cut vegetables so that they are easy to grab, rather than a less healthy snack. Having pre-cut vegetables makes it easier to make a health dinner too. Some of the prep work is already done.

To help with proper hydration, fill a container with water in the morning and make it your goal to finish it by the end of the day. Most of us are not drinking enough water and this impacts the quality of workouts and recovery.

 

NEW EQUIPMENT

If you are considering some new equipment, I think it would be smart to get that settled as soon as you can, now that we are into the New Year. You can start training with that equipment and be comfortable with it well before you will be racing.

If you are getting a new bike, there is a lot of time to put in before you will be comfortable. This includes the time to arrange and get a fitting on your new bike. Even a new saddle may require a fitting.

Take care of these things well ahead of time and before the time commitment for training increases.

 

INJURIES

If you have any injuries hopefully you have been seeing someone to get them addressed, but if not, no time to waste. Get those pesky injuries taken care of so you can build your volume properly and avoid a re-occurrence. If you are building towards a spring or early summer race, time will pass very quickly and there may be less time to build than it seems. Get those injuries sorted and build appropriately.

 

Here’s to a great start to 2013 and an enjoyable few months of indoor training before we get to head outdoors again!

Looking Ahead to 2013: Part 2

In part 1 of this topic (www.getfastergofurther.com/wordpress/looking-ahead) I discussed the importance of taking a proper break from structured training at the end of the season, and a few of the things I think about as I plan my next season (key races and addressing weaknesses).

This is a continuation of the theme of planning for an even better 2013 season.

 

GOAL SETTING

I like to set two different types of goals. Most people think about setting goals for their races, whether that is to complete a certain race distance or finish in a certain amount of time, or finish in a certain placing for their age group or overall. Without a doubt these are important goals and will provide some motivation, however at this time of year those races are a long way away. I think it is also important to set more short-term training goals. As an example, one of my current goals is to be on my bike 4 times per week, from November to April, not including recovery weeks. The specifics of those workouts are somewhat important but I also know that being on my bike 4 times a week will bring me improvement on the bike regardless. Another thing about this particular training goal is that it is addressing an area of weakness which is my bike split.

I know that this goal will keep me motivated to get those workouts done, even when I don’t feel like it, or when I have to squeeze a ride into my schedule.

Do you have specific training goals and that will keep you motivated from week to week over the winter?

 

BUILDING A WEEKLY SCHEDULE

Something that goes hand in hand with setting training goals is building your weekly schedule. Why are the two related? Well, if your weekly schedule only allows for you to ride 3 times, there isn’t much point in setting a goal to ride 4 times per week. The two are absolutely inter-connected.

At a high level, as I start to plan my winter training, I look at what a normal weekly schedule will look like to see how training will fit.  This inevitably becomes a balance of how much training I want to do, and how much training I can actually fit in. I decide how many sessions of each sport I will do and I tentatively schedule those sessions into my week, to see how they will fit around the rest of my life. You can see how this can have a significant impact on the training goals that you set. Writing the schedule out makes it very real and really makes me think about it thoroughly. It is absolutely critical to be realistic and honest with yourself when you do this.

On a weekly basis (Sunday night or Monday morning) I then plan out the coming week. Sometimes it is a normal week, like I had initially planned around and training can fit easily. Other times it isn’t so straight forward and I have to re-arrange things.

One last comment about this scheduling…make sure you have your family on board; that’s part of being realistic. Otherwise your plan might not last very long.

 

One last installment on this topic in a few weeks, and at that time I’ll discuss changing bad habits, new equipment and addressing injuries.

 

I hope you are enjoying your training and being fit!

 

 

 

 

Looking Ahead to 2013

So it’s mid-September and another triathlon season has ended for most of us in Southern Ontario. This time of year means several things to triathletes. Running races, fall rides, Hawaii Ironman World Championships and looking ahead to the next triathlon season, the topic of this blog.

This was my fourteenth season of triathlon and I enjoy it as much now as ever. It’s amazing that I found this sport. One of the many things I enjoy about triathlon is putting a plan together, with the understanding that a plan, is only a plan, and what actually happens can be much different. Regardless, it’s an important process.

Before I get into the planning for next year, it’s important to mention that one of the most important things to do at this time of year, once all of your racing is done, is to take a proper break from structured training. This can mean different things to different people, and take different amounts of time, but however you take a break, the goal is to be fresh mentally and physically to launch into another season of training.

As I start 2013 planning, for myself and athletes I coach, I wanted to share with you the things I think about as I go through the process. Hopefully some of these points apply to you and can help you plan for next season and ultimately help you to have a great 2013 season.

 

KEY 2013 RACES

I know that for 2013 my key races will be Mallorca 70.3 in May and Ironman Mont-Tremblant in August. There will be other races and events throughout the year, but these are the races that my training and racing will be planned around.

What are your key races for 2013? Are you moving up to a distance you’ve never taken on before, or are you trying to improve at a distance you have done before? This certainly will have an impact on what your training will look like.

 

ADDRESSING WEAKNESSES

I like to look back at performances from the past season and see if there are weaknesses that need to be addressed. If you have some obvious weaknesses this should have an impact on what your training looks like, so this is a key step.

What sport is your weakness? What is your plan to address that weakness? Do you tend to train more in the sports you are good at?

Remember this; you probably don’t need to completely overhaul your training but don’t be afraid of making changes. You can’t really expect an improvement if you do the same training that you did last year.

 

In my next blog entry I’ll continue this discussion and talk about scheduling, goals and changing bad habits. In the meantime, happy planning and enjoy your break from structured training.