tuesday is the big day

bone scan on tuesday. much sooner than i'd thought. i was told that i may have to take a backseat to higher priority cases because of the isotope shortage, but the scan is only one week after meeting with my doctor. it's a two stage ordeal: show up, inject dye into my blood, come back two hours later for the scan. anxious for the results. i want to ruuunnnnn!!!

not ready to throw in the towel

it seems that the only thing that i have to blog about these days is the status of injuries. sticking with that theme, i'm here to report that my tricky, stubborn, still officially undiagnosed injury may be a season-ending stress fracture in my right shin bone. my chiropractor and i aren't ruling it out and we still have a few steps ahead of us before we can be certain. at this point it's proving too difficult to determine if the pain is soft tissue or bone related, so next up is a trip to my family doctor to get a requisition form for a bone scan. if it is a fracture it will show up in a bone scan, whereas an xray may not be able to spot it.

for the first time in months (except for when i was on vacation) i didn't do any training this weekend. weekends are vital for my training because it's a time for me to catch up or get in some longer workouts, but this weekend i shut it down hoping that rest, stretching and light strengthening exercises may help out. i was out for a light run this afternoon and the pain was still there, although it did feel slightly better. i'm checking in with my chiropractor tonight so i hope we'll get somewhere.

this is a very hard, frustrating time. even at the best of times when i'm getting in all of my workouts week after week i feel like i'm not doing enough, and now here i am having to force myself to do nothing at all. but i am confident that it isn't a stress fracture. the pain seems to move from spot to spot as my workouts progress; as certain muscles warm up and tire out, the pain shifts around. i can also stand with all of my weight on my right leg and move my knee around without any pain at all, and i've been told that if it is a stress fracture i wouldn't be able to put any load on it whatsoever.

but hey, what do i know? i'll leave the official diagnosis to the experts. if it is a stress fracture my season will be over, i'll be off my feet to recover, and i'll shift my focus to next year much earlier than i'd anticipated. if it's not a stress fracture, i'll work through the pain and do one more race this year before throwing in the towel. i can get through a soft tissue injury but a bone fracture is different. if i don't stop to take care of it immediately i'll be jeopardizing my future in the sport. not exactly something i'm interested in signing up for.

it's official

just received an email from triathlon canada that reads:

Dear Tommy

I am pleased to inform you that after reviewing the registrations and assessing the roll-down list, you have received a spot on the 2010 Age Group Duathlon team.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Julie Keown
Office Manager
Triathlon Canada

so there we have it. i'm officially on the national team. very exciting.


last night i did yoga for the first time in almost two years. i used to do it regularly back when i was a competitive rower, yoga being a great compliment to the extremely repetitive movements rowers use while training and racing. after a couple of bad experiences with different instructors and venues i stopped going and haven't done it since. with duathlons, most of my time is focused on training and very little time is set aside for stretching and relaxing. and, as a result, here i am almost two years later with a string of injuries that could mostly have been prevented had i taken the time to include flexibility training and stretching into my workout routines. i've always known that yoga would be a tremendous benefit to my training and have been trying to fit it in but haven't been able to do so.

last night i was finally able to tag along with my wife for a class at downward dog - her regular yoga haunt - and, after being away from yoga for so long, i noticed that i'm not nearly as flexible as i used to be and my back is not nearly as strong as it was back when i was rowing. we did a level I class that was surprisingly challenging, and i think that the only way i was able to get through the 1.5 hour class was a combination of the fact that i've done lots of yoga in the past and that i'm already in pretty good shape. otherwise there's no way i would have made it through this "easy" class. i sweat so much that i was able to wring out my towel afterwards, my legs were trembling while holding some poses, and i got worked. anyways, i left the class feeling more loose and more relaxed than i've felt in a long time and was able to notice the benefits immediately. i woke up this morning for the first time in weeks with no sensation of injury in my right leg, the pain virtually disappearing overnight.

if you're an athlete, flexibility plays a vital in your overall physical well being. i'm going to incorporate yoga into my regular routine, mostly to try to prevent and overcome injuries, but also as a means to add some balance to my training. all of my workouts are high-impact, high-intensity and highly repetitive, so an hour and a half a week of slow, relaxed movements will be a nice change of pace. even if i do sweat like a leaky faucet. which is kind of embarrassing. can the rest of the class hear the sweat dripping off my nose?

Post Race Report - Toronto Islands

this was without question the most fun that i've had at a race. the toronto islands race site was close by, the weather was spectacular, and the competition was top notch. coming over to the islands on the ferry in the morning only added to the uniqueness of the event and my hat goes off to the fine folks at the HSBC series. i like this series because they really try to make their events more than just a competition by adding unique venues like the toronto islands, as well as giving athletes an opportunity to do something a little different, such as the triathlon start on the Seguin Steamship in gravenhurst.

after arriving on the islands first thing in the morning, it was only a short walk to the race site. immediately i saw some familiar faces and after getting my transition area set up and my warm up out of the way, the race was set to begin. my pesky leg and ankle injuries were feeling pretty good, better after i'd warmed up, and it appeared that they wouldn't be too much a factor for me, but there was no way for me to know for sure until the race was underway. i'd been careful to eat enough food this morning because at my last race i was on the start line feeling empty, which isn't exactly the way you want to feel before your race begins. it was scorching hot out there in the sun - even at 8 in the morning - and proper hydration would play a key role in every athlete's race today. i was sweating while just standing so i'd been drinking water right up to the time i went to the starting corral. at the sound of the horn i took the early lead, holding it until the first of two turnaround spots, and was overtaken by omar hafez, a very talented runner that finished 4th in the first 10k leg of the provincial championships. knowing that we couldn't keep up with him, me and two other athletes, scott finch (a regular on the HSBC series) and damian walsh, a new face visiting from the US, held tightly to 2nd, 3rd and 4th spots. the three of us were inseparable for the first 4.5k run and many thanks go damian who encouraged both scott and me to keep at it. "c'mon... don't let him get away," damian said on course to scott and me as the other made a move. it's been a month since my last race and i didn't feel 100% out there in the early part of the race, my stomach feeling slightly off. in the end i made a bit of a break and came into transition in 2nd spot, scott and damian only one second behind me.

both damian and scott were faster than me in t1, damian getting way ahead. i caught up to scott exiting transition and he and i mounted our bikes at the same time, me getting clipped into my pedals and off the line just ahead of him. this 30k bike course started with a long no passing zone so our respective positions were held until we'd all found our cycling legs a couple of kilometres into it. it was in this no passing zone that i hit a pretty nasty bump, the mesh top of my aero water bottle popping off and all of my water spilling out along with it. fantastic, i thought to myself. all of my water is gone and it's the hottest day of the year and here i am racing. i'm pooched. water bottle problems aside i was making ground on omar and damian, the race leaders at this point, so i decided that since i was catching them so early into the bike leg, there was no need for me to expend extra energy by making a surge up to the front. i eventually caught up with and dropped omar, and damian and i were riding side-by-side by the end of the first 5k section (the course was split into two 5k sections, 10k in total, 3 laps of both for the 30k ride). in the closest, most enjoyable bike portion of any race i've been in, damian and i stayed together for the entire ride, each of us taking the lead from the other only to be caught again. "tag, you're it!" i said at one point as i passed him, only to be overtaken once again a few minutes later. the crowds became a factor as the day went on, the arrival of the ferries obvious as surges of people would show up here and there. i practically winded myself yelling ahead to make sure the people would be out of harms way from the athletes. "this is crazy!" damian said as we reached one of the turnaround points.

as the race wore on it appeared that damian and i were sizing each other up and preparing to use the race same strategy. i wasn't having trouble keeping up with him and was sticking to my "there's no point in trying to get away" plan. i jsut wanted to stay with him, not let him get away, and save my legs for a real break on the last 5k section. the heat was really affecting me because i'd only been able to sip on the scraps of water that remained in my aero bottle. i was feeling thirsty and damian was kind enough to offer me a couple of sips from his water bottle. that's how close we were for the whole bike portion. toe-to-toe every step of the way. once we were on our last lap of the bike course i took the lead early on, damian got it back again, and it appeared he was finally making a move. i held on and kept up with him but he didn't seem to be getting away like i thought he was going to. i looked down at my bike computer and we were at about the 26k mark so i decided to make my move. i dropped a gear and hit it hard. i'd passed him countless times by this time so maybe he wasn't expecting it, but i held on and kept pulling away. i was pounding on the pedals and looked back to see if he was keeping up but it looked like i'd dropped him and i was making some ground. i kept telling myself to hold this effort because i was so close to the end of the ride, and by the time i'd reached the very last turnaround before exiting to t2, i couldn't see damian behind me anymore.

the first thing i did in t2 after racking my bike was to grab the water bottle that i keep in transition area. i took a few big gulps, threw on my running shoes, and was off for the last 4.5k running leg of the race in first place, carrying my water bottle with me. my stomach was still feeling off. at one point on the bike i felt like i was going to throw up. i'm sure it was a combination of the effort i was putting in, the heat, lack of hydration, and the fact that i'd probably eaten too much food this time. i had food to eat with me on course but i definitely didn't need it. as i was moving along on the last run my stomach finally started to feel better and the water helped out, too. i wasn't feeling fast but i was moving. i had a pretty good lead now and there was no sign of any other athletes behind me and i started wondering if perhaps damian had taken a wrong turn coming out of t2. at one point i had a view of a couple hundred metres and there was nobody to be seen, and it wasn't until i looped back towards transition area the i found scott and omar in a tight battle for 2nd and 3rd. was damian a ghost? where did he go? was he alright? i made my way through the last running leg of the race, tired but strong, and came across the finish line in first place, super excited with a victory at my hometown race! i managed to come across the line about 90 seconds ahead of the other two athletes, and stuck around because it was going to be a close race for the next spot. although they were running side by side both times i saw them on the second run, omar ended up getting scott by about 10 seconds, still with no sign of damian, and neither of those two had seen him since the bike course. i waited around at the finish line until finally, about 15 minutes later, damian crossed the line. turns out he accidentally did an extra lap of the bike route along with another athlete.

sweaty, thirsty and exhausted i walked away from today's event with my third victory of the season. i got a better time than i was hoping for and am psyched with my results. i had a great ride as my cycling continues to improve and my splits get faster and faster. it was nice to realize that i'm able to push myself really hard when i have to so i may use that to my advantage in later races when trying to break away. i've had too many problems with my aero bottle so i'll be switching to something different, and i've almost got my pre-race nutrition figured out, the ideal solution falling between me eating too much for this race and too little at my last race. my injuries held up nicely and don't seem to be any worse so that's great news, and i'll take some more downtime to focus on getting those sorted out. i've only got a couple of races left this year and i'd like to make the all good ones with results similar to today's. racing at home on the islands was pretty fun and i hope that HSBC returns here again next year.

and i'd like to nominate damian walsh for sporstman of the year if i could. a very friendly, generous athlete that was just as concerned with the other athletes' races as he was with his own.

racing on the islands tomorrow

tomorrow i'll be racing the HSBC toronto islands duathlon, a race that i've been looking forward to for a long time. this stop has been a part of the HSBC's roster for a couple of years but, for whatever reason, last year the duathlon was not on the card. this year, however, duathlon is returning to the islands and i've practically been counting down the days all year. this is my hometown race. i live about a 10 minute drive from the ferry terminal, i'm going to have family and friends there to cheer me on, and my wife and i have planned on making a day out of the race because we both love going over to the islands. after the event wraps up we'll meander along the rec paths, stop in at centreville, probably have an ice cream cone, maybe rent a bike or a paddle boat for a couple of hours, and maybe go for a swim.

this will be a flat and fast course and i'm hoping to do well. there are a couple of elite male athletes entered in the race but i don't recognize their names so i don't know what to expect. there's a good chance they could both beat me and i expect the rest of the field to be tough, too. but if i can get the time that i'm hoping for i should be able to finish on the podium. my injury is doing better these days but it will definitely play the most vital role in how well i do tomorrow. since it's a race i will be pushing myself, but if my body is telling me to slow down and take it easy i will. my injury is definitely affecting my performance, but the last time i ran intervals i forgot my watch so i couldn't see just how much it's slowing me down. the good news is that my riding doesn't seem to be affected so i should have a strong performance on the bike. learning from my mistakes in gravenhurst i'm going to fuel up better for this race and hope to cross the finish line feeling like i've actually pushed myself.

regardless of how i place tomorrow, if i can get the time i want i'll be very pleased. i always head to races competing against myself and the clock, pushing to get my target time. this race will be the same and if i can get through the injury and cross the line feeling strong i'll be even more pleased. if you're looking for something to do tomorrow morning and have never been to the toronto islands, come check out the race for sure. it'll be an amazing venue, the weather looks fantastic, and you can spend the whole day on the islands exploring, having fun and relaxing.

weather, training and injuries

as a canadian it's my duty to talk about the weather. and as an athlete that does the majority of his workouts outside, weather plays a huge role in the length, quality and type of workout i'm able to do. the weather has finally been cooperating over the past few days and i've been outside enjoying it. except for a couple of nasty thunderstorms on sunday which i got caught in, promptly ending my run and sending me inside to do a long ride on the indoor trainer, the weather this week has been great for outdoor training. monday i wasn't able to get a workout in because i was getting caught up at work after a week away, tuesday was a 50k hills ride and run, wednesday was a ride to a from work and intervals in the afternoon, and today is another ride to and from work. tomorrow looks good so i'll be back on my bike riding to work again and will do a tempo run in the afternoon, all the while doing my best to work through an injury that just won't go away.

because i was traveling with work last week i wasn't able to get any workouts in. when i'm in the field i'm typically working 10-18 hour days and traveling from spot to spot or getting ready for the next day in the evenings. i thought that with a week's worth of downtime my injuries might actually begin to improve, but this week, now that i'm back at it, they seem to be even worse. i'm seeing my physiotherapist tonight and my chiropractor tomorrow in a effort to get this thing finally taken care of once and for all. i'm not ready to throw in the towel and put an end to my racing year just yet because i'm planning on racing right into october, so i'm going to do what i can to beat this thing. if i'm advised to put a halt on my training and racing i will, but otherwise it's business as usual.

i'm racing in toronto on the islands this weekend at a race that i've been looking forward to all year and am not prepared to miss. it's my hometown race and i'll have family and friends there. i've already prepared myself for the fact that i'll probably be hurting after this race and have already booked physio and chiro appointments for next week. i haven't raced for nearly a month so rest and downtime aren't helping, so i'm just gonna go out there and do what i can. i'm ready to race again and i'll see how my body reacts. hopefully all will go well and i'll be no worse off than i am now, but, as my physiotherapist who's also a multisport athlete said, "people always end up hurting themselves when racing because that's when they're working the hardest."