december update

December 09, 2010

i'm taking a look at my blog just now and realizing it's approaching three months since my last update.  at first the time that's passed since my last update surprised me, but now that i've thought about it more it doesn't surprise me at all because there's been little to report.  for the purpose of this blog, these past few months have been about recovery and maintenance.  after my crash at the worlds and subsequent injuries, my training slowed down, practically coming to a halt.  the torn AC joint in my left shoulder progressed quickly and healed, but because i was favouring my right arm, trying to speed up the healing of my left, i subsequently injured my right shoulder worse than my left.  the root of the problem was the trauma my right shoulder sustained when i crashed in edinborough, and several weeks later, after many rounds of physiotherapy, i discovered that my rotator cuff was causing the pain.  most movement was agonizing, and anything involving lifting or raising my shoulder shot white lightning through my body.  something as simple as putting on or taking off my shirt required a moment to stop to breath through the pain.  i fumbled through weeks of trying to teach myself how to brush my teeth with my left hand.  even now, more than three months since my crash, my right shoulder is still causing problems and is painful at some point throughout each day.

running was difficult because of the pain, and the only riding i could do was indoors with a delicate upper body.  i made it through september, missing several races because of the injuries, and was hoping to do a half marathon at some point this fall but that didn't happen either.  october turned into a maintenance month, doing what i could to keep my strength up.  i took most of november off of work and tried to get one or two workouts in each week, and even that was difficult.

but for the past two weeks training has been much better and i'm finally starting to feel like things are back on track.  next year will be much different from 2010 and, to be perfectly honest, i have no idea at this point how things will pan out for me, but right now i'm very excited with some of the changes on the horizon.  no big races chosen yet or ambitions settled, but feeling good about 2011 nonetheless.


September 22, 2010

xrays came back and i've got a slight tear in my ac joint.  nothing too serious but it's causing pain while running, especially on longer or more intense runs.  dryland training is also out of the question, and something as simple as getting out of bed creates much discomfort.  a few weeks of physio should take care of it, but until healed it's light runs only.  riding seems to be ok and i hope to have my bike training back in full swing as of next week.

made it

August 31, 2010

getting to edinburgh was probably one of the least complicated and painless international flight i've ever made.  i was in the air less than an hour for my connecting flight, had an amazing 4 hour sleep on my second flight, and made it to my accommodations without any complications.  i hooked up with one of the team canada team managers at the airport and the two of us got to hang out while we were waiting to check in.  we did a quick tour of the city, had some lunch and took some pics.  i'm in my room getting settled and am hoping to get a run or ride in tonight before dinner.  and maybe a nap.  that's sounding pretty good right now.

off i go

August 30, 2010

off to the airport, luggage, race gear, bike and bike pump in tow.  of all the things i've had to pack for this trip, this last item somehow seems the most ridiculous.  i never thought i'd lug a bike pump across the atlantic ocean.

all packed up

August 29. 2010

i've never packed up a bike for travel before and have been feeling a little anxious about it over the past couple of weeks because i've been imagining disastrous scenarios in which my bike shows up in scotland damaged and unrideable.  but packing it was surprisingly easy and it feels safe and secure.  i'm just about ready to fly out tomorrow, and all that remains is one last trip to the health food store.  i learned a valuable lesson about packing food when i was in richmond in april of this year and i'm in no hurry to repeat that mistake.  i'll bring what i can but my first priority once i've arrived in edinburgh will be to locate some fresh, healthy food and stock up for the week.  i'm sure it's a wonderful substitute for any meal, but a week's worth of eating haggis already feels old.

worlds bike set up

August 28, 2010

here it is.  my pimped out ride for the worlds.  wheel selection for edinburgh is crucial, and after giving it a lot of thought and weighing out the pros and cons, i've decided to go with front and rear 808s.  i typically ride with a front 808 and a 900 rear disc, but a disc wheel just won't cut it for such a hilly, technical course.  i was thinking or racing with front/rear 404s, which would be great for the hills, but i'm going with the 808s because they're light and stiff enough to deliver power on the climbs, but they're also deep enough to give me an aero advantage on the flats.  the key to edinburgh will be recovering quickly in preparation for the next climb, and i'll take every advantage that the 808s will give me.

starting to feel better

August 27, 2010

yesterday was the first time in a long time that i can remember actually feeling fantastic at the beginning of a run.  i'd sort of assumed that my legs were supposed to feel heavy and slow and had forgotten what it felt like to be light on my feet.  my cold seems to have sorted itself out and with some downtime over the past couple of weeks i'm finally starting to feel better; i'm finally feeling like i'm on track for a great race in edinburgh.  i had some of my best times ever at the track yesterday, and what a relief it was to see improvement.  and to feel it.  to actually feel it.  it seems so counter intuitive but it turns out that what i've been needing more than anything is some rest.


August 26, 2010

last year when i qualified for the world championships my attention turned immediately to the difficulty of the course in edinburgh, scotland.  i'd read and heard reports about how tough the cycling portion of the race will be, and when i saw the elevation profiles those rumors were confirmed.  that race will be 5 laps around holyrood park, and each of those laps includes two tough ascents and one ridiculously tough ascent up arthur's seat, a mount everest-style hill/mountain/death climb in the middle of the city.  the descent of these climbs are steep and technical, so i've decided to take my road bike because it's much better suited to such a course.  if the course were not so hilly there would be no debate... i'd take my P3 in a heart beat.  so before i head over to scotland i wanted to finish at least one race on my road bike with its race set up, and orillia has some tough hills and technical turns so i figured it would be the ideal candidate.

taking a step back

August 20, 2010

i'm tired. and exhausted. and still sick. with a half marathon august 8th, a 10k august 14th, and the toronto islands duathlon august 15th, i've been pushing myself in the lead up to the worlds. i've been having an awful year that just seems to be getting worse, and i've been racking my brain trying to figure out what's gone wrong. last year was great... each race was better than the last and i improved as the season went on. then a stress fracture put me on the sidelines for three months, and once i'd recovered i was back on my feet. that was the end of last october, and since then i've been training up to 7 days a week every week. this season started off strong and i felt great at the US nationals in april. i thought that was the beginning of what would be a great year, but it's been the complete opposite.

finally something exciting

August 06, 2010

the last two weeks have been hard and tiresome. i'm just getting over a bad cold that's left me on the sidelines and have missed a number of workouts. my struggles with running continue, and having a headache and coughing fits are no motivation to move any faster.

scratch that

July 31, 2010

this weekend was supposed to be a long ride but the bike is staying home. i'm sick and exhausted and need a break. even though i was feeling rough this morning, i got through my long tempo run but pushed myself too hard and felt like ass afterwards. some meds got rid of the headache, but what my body needs is some downtime. and a few cold drinks on the dock.

i ♥ these things right now:

July 29, 2010

i my new aerobars
they're lighter, leaner and lower than my previous set. and they somehow make my bike look faster, too. which is super important.

i endurosport
the same day i ordered the new aerobars i booked a bike fit with dan from endurosport. as soon as the bars were on the bike (literally) dan and i adjusted my riding position to accommodate the new hardware. i now have a much more aggressive position.

i muskoka rides
two days after the bars were on the bike i was testing everything on a long ride. there was definitely a significant change in riding position which took a bit of getting used to, but after about 20k or so i'd settled right in. my shoulders and upper back were a bit sore because i had to hold my head up higher, but it's nothing i won't adapt to. actually, the biggest adjustment was my hand position. because of the shape of the new bars my wrists were a bit sore at the end of the ride because of where i had to place my hands. but no big deal. i have a hilly 3 hour ride this weekend to try it out again and am hoping to be just as comfortable on the new bars as i was the old bars by the end of the ride. another great thing about the new bars is that because they're lower, climbing is more comfortable. it feels like i'm climbing on my road bike.

i track workouts
i've had a couple of track workouts over the past couple of weeks, and although i'm not getting the times that i was hoping for this far into the racing season, i'm consistent. which is good. and i'm hoping this consistency will lead to improved times on race day, because so far this year my running splits have been sucky. i not sucky runs.

time to reassess

July 20, 2010

saturday's loss was painful, both literally and figuratively. the course was tough and the heat was practically unbearable. some athletes suffering from heat stroke collapsed in a disorientated trance in transition while others were attended to by paramedics. as soon as i crossed the finish line i painstakingly made my way over to a shady area and lay on the grass until my head stopped spinning. i was forcing fluids down but it took me several minutes to be able to stand up again. i couldn't think straight and my mind was cloudy. as soon as i was capable i hobbled over to one of the retail tents on site and bought some salt pills and had one every 30 minutes for the next couple of hours. i'd severely underestimated the heat today.

gravenhurst cheat sheet

July 16, 2010

i can't guarantee the accuracy of this, but if you would like to, go ahead and print it. if you've never done this bike course this will show you what you're in for. notice how there are no flat sections? welcome to muskoka.

eight weeks out

July 14, 2010

last week i was looking at my calendar and realized that sunday marked 8 weeks to go until the worlds. eight weeks to go. unbelievable. it feels like it was only yesterday i qualified.

that's more like it.

June 09, 2010

i didn't taper for last week's race in milton, i didn't do any of my usual pre-race preparation, nor did i lose any sleep over how i might finish. this race was just another workout. early last week when i opened my log to see what workouts my coach had given me for the week, sunday was a race simulation. it was a heavy week of training and as it came to an end i felt strong and made a last minute decision to do my race simulation workout at an actual race. does that make sense? maybe not. but it was a way to psych myself into not thinking of this as any more than a regular workout.

Ride Your Bike To Work Day

May 31, 2010

as part of bike month here in toronto, today is Ride Your Bike To Work Day. to celebrate i wanted to share a pic from yesterday's crit race at st. lawrence market. happy riding!

also, a shout out to my friend suzanne who won yesterday's toronto women's only half marathon. awesome race, z!

a day i'd sooner forget

this is the beginning of only my third season as a serious multisport athlete. with such little experience comes rookie mistakes and firsts for the ups and downs of racing. today was one of those firsts. today was my first bad race.

victoria's lead up

in the last few days leading up to victoria's duathlon i spent some time with a friend taking some pics of my bike all pimped out with its new racing wheels. here are a few shots from the photo sesh:

i'm not feeling 100% in the lead up to this race... something's definitely off. i had a disastrous race simulation workout last sunday that ended with me giving up half way through. that workout came at the end of a very heavy build week and everything caught up with me that morning. i was physically and emotionally drained and haven't felt like myself since, but i'm making my way through it. i've been feeling better as this week's wore on, and i hope to be re-energized with a few days of rest and a trip to the cottage this long weekend.

and speaking of racing this weekend, my good friend and training buddy tara norton is competing at ironman lanzarote on saturday. good luck out there, tara, and have fun!

duathlon nationals

richmond is one of america's most obese cities, with 1 in 4 of its population being overweight. and it's no wonder. the only dining options that i could find were fast food chains with menus that consisted entirely of deep fried and battered garbage. if salad was an option it was smothered in ranch dressing or bacon. even the breakfast at my hotel was terrible. the only non-fried option was some fresh fruit. the whole weekend i struggled to eat well and turned to chowhound to try to find some local restaurants that offered lighter, healthier options, but every place that i drove to was either closed or boarded up. richmond was rocked by the recession and a lot of businesses shut down, and downtown was completely deserted. anyways, the only reason that i mention all of this is because food became a real factor for me. i'd packed everything that i needed for race day, but my stomach was turning the entire weekend leading up to the race because i don't ever eat the food that i had to eat this weekend. i was on the lookout for a grocery store saturday afternoon because i wanted to get something healthy and light that i could make for myself. i had to ask a local for some advice and it turned out i had to get on the freeway and drive 30 minutes outside of town to get to a whole foods market. i was like a kid in a candy store and i picked up some healthy food to get me through the rest of the day and sunday's drive home.

tara norton vid

tara asked me to put together a short compilation of some of the highlights of our shoot together so she'd have something to show her sponsors. it's basically just 2 minutes and 15 seconds of tara looking like a badass. would you want to be racing her?

for the original project, click here.

a mistake only a human would make

i was ready for yesterday's race.

i had a great first half of my warm up at the hotel in the morning.

i arrived at the race with plenty of time to get ready.

i was fueled up and hydrated.

i was familiar with the course.

i got to the starting area 20 minutes before my wave began.

i finished my warm up and patiently waited to be called to the line.

i was calm, focused and relaxed.

i was ready to race.

but even with all that preparation i'm still susceptible to making mistakes. with only seconds to go before the race began, i made my towards the starting line and realized that i'd lost my timing chip. i panicked and frantically started looking all over for it. the horn sounded and as i turned and watched the athletes take off a foggy confusion settled in. was that my wave that just started? it has to be too soon. i lost all concentration and couldn't think of what to do and feeling completely fuddled i started my timer, ran over to the starting line and asked a race official, was that the 30-34 wave?. i think so, he said. i ran over to another race official. was that the 30-34 wave? yes. already several seconds behind the pack, off i went without a timing chip. as soon as i took off everything snapped back into place. my focus returned and i caught up to my wave and started moving towards the front. i'm going to do this race. i won't have an official time but i'm still going to do this race.

gearing up

after a nasty, debilitating shin splints flare up last week, things are looking good and i'm getting ready to head down to richmond, virginia for the US national duathlon championships. this has been a tapering week so workouts have been light, but my shins feel good and have been responding quickly to the various therapies i've been using. i have to send out a huge, huge, HUGE thank you to my friend suzanne. she read my last blog post and immediately got in touch with me and gave me loads of great tips for how to beat shin splints. all of her suggestions have made a huge difference and there's no way i could have made such huge improvements without her help. she's coached me through this thing and i'm grateful to have a good friend and training partner like her.

this is what happens when you stray from what works

i've written about it here many times before: my number one goal for 2010 and beyond is to remain injury free. i've developed a plan that has been working great, and that plan involves hardly anything beyond warming up properly, icing after particularly hard workouts and stretching. no sweat. as long as i stick with that i should be much better off than i was last season, and so far i have been. well, as simple of a plan as it is, i strayed from it on thursday and am now sitting out for a few days with only a week to go before a huge race.

the race i shouldn't have done

this morning i competed at the philly's fools 10k race in whitby for the second straight year. for nearly a week i've been contemplating whether or not i should do this race, my body telling me to stay home and rest. on a workout last tuesday my legs felt like they were made of cement and i had to force myself through an otherwise easy set of intervals, and i immediately got in touch with my coach afterwards to tell him i was going to take the rest of the week off from training. i took wednesday off work because i felt like ass, i was in no better state on thursday and should have stayed home again but forced myself into the office, barely made it through the day without throwing up all over my desk, and only started to feel better that evening. i didn't show much of an improvement over the weekend and started weighing out the pros and cons of competing in this race. the cons were obvious: if i competed, my in-need-of-a-rest body would take another beating and i'd be off my feet for another week, possibly even more, recovering. some of the pros of competing were substantial and included the fact that i need this race to see where my running is at right now compared to last year. without knowing that it's hard to get a good sense of what sort of year this will be for me. i took it easy on friday and rested as much as i could and did a short 30-minute run on saturday morning. feeling ok but still not 100%, i decided then that i was at least capable of pulling off a 10k race today.

MultiSport Canada Promo Video

here's something i've been working on for awhile...

Post Race Report - Chilly Half Marathon

like my last race the week before, i had time on my hands this morning. the race didn't start until 10.05 am, and burlington is only a short 35-minute drive away. my legs were feeling a little tight because i wasn't able to stretch after all of my workouts in the lead up to the race, so i hopped on my bike on the trainer in the basement for a little spin to get the blood flowing. afterwards i did a full stretch and was feeling top notch, so off i headed to race site. from the very beginning, this race was all about heart rates. there was a 5k event held alongside the 1/2 marathon that i was originally planning on doing, but my coach recommended that i do the longer race with a predetermined plan. the goal was to maintain a steady heart rate for the first half, and then bring it up and maintain a higher rate for the second half.

it's good i had that chance to do a little warm-up at home because i got to the event much later than i had hoped, and i was only able to jog for a few minutes before i had to head to the start. because of how i'd structured this race for myself, i was feeling super relaxed just before it began, more relaxed than i've ever been just before the start of any race i'm sure. i knew that i wasn't out there competing against anyone, and i wasn't even out there competing against myself; i was just there to finish the race in whatever time it took. had i arrived earlier i would have made my way to the back of the starting corral, but because i got to the line so late i found myself only three rows back from the front, and when the gun went off, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of other runners poured past me. starting slowly, my plan was to run 4.40/km for the first 10k, and then finish the race at a pace of 4.10/km, but once i got going i found that i was able to run right at my threshold and maintain a pace of 4.30, and with that i changed my plan just slightly. i decided that i'd run the first half right at my threshold, regardless of pace, because i knew that was an effort i could hold for hours.

as the race wore on, more and more athletes left me behind. my ego took a beating and i had to continually remind myself what this race was about. but it was tough. very tough. going into this thing i was hoping that i'd be able to finish with a time of sub-1.40, and just about the only thing that made me feel good this early on was that at one turnaround point i discovered that i was quite a bit ahead of the 1.45 pace bunny. with my ego in check and my pace settled, i carried on.

even though i was getting passed by every athlete and their uncle, as the Ks ticked away i realized that i was feeling great and really enjoying myself. running right at threshold is an effort that most athletes are likely very comfortable at, and i'm certainly no exception. it was a beautiful day and it was a beautiful course and the pace that i was running at really gave me the opportunity to appreciate so much of what i would otherwise miss, and as the halfway point of the race approached i started to get excited. i was feeling so good and had so much left in me that i couldn't wait to pick things up. not quite sure where i was on the course at the time, i looked at my garmin and saw that i was at 10.8k, and knew it was time to get going. there was a dude that had caught up to me and had been running with me for a few hundred metres, but once i hit that 10.8 mark, off i went, dropping him, on my way to a very different second half of the race.

now that i was moving quicker, i had to find a pace with a higher heart rate that i could comfortably maintain for this last half, but since the point of this race plan wasn't to compare split times, i didn't want this second half of the race to be a full-out 10k effort. i wanted to cross the line strong, not worn out. i ended up settling about 10 heart beats higher than threshold, which brought me down to about 4.10/km. although this definitely isn't race pace for me, i stuck with it and started catching up to and passing the crowds of people that had passed me much earlier. because my heart rate was still fairly low and i still had all of my reserves left, i was feeling great and started cruising towards the end. my ego started peeking out from behind the curtains as i passed all of the people ahead of me, and together we charged on. there was a bit of a headwind coming back towards the finish so as i moved up from one group of runners to the next, i would use the other athletes to break the headwind for me, take a moment to recover slightly, and then move up to the next group. i overtook the 1.35 pace bunny and was hoping to catch the 1.30 bunny, but knew that would only be possible if i brought my splits down to about 3.40. on another day, sure, but not today.

it wasn't until i was at the 16k marker that i realized i was feeling the first signs of fatigue. i normally feel spent in the first few kilometres of a race and have to push myself to keep things going for the rest, but today that wasn't the case at all. today i'd conserved everything and my body was feeling fantastic. even though my ego was right there on my shoulder telling me to go faster, i ignored him and stuck with my pace until the last 2k. at the 19k marker i finally allowed myself to put the pedal down and those last 2 kilometres were the only ones that i had a sub-4 pace, and i crossed the line at a pace of sub-3 with a finishing time of 1.31.44.

never had i felt so good at the end of a race! i made this race easy on myself for sure, but i never expected to feel as strong as i did at the end, nor did i expect to come so close to breaking a 1.30.00 finish time with such a relaxed effort. normally when i'm out there racing i'm pushing myself to go harder, but for almost every step of this race i was holding myself back. i can say with all honesty that this lesson in mental training was way, way, WAY harder than trying to psych myself up to go faster. i stuck to my race plan and looking back my HRs were rock steady: for the first 10k they only drifted 2 or three beats for every kilometre, and for the second half, although they were much higher, they only differed by 2 beats, except for the final 2k. this was a tremendous exercise and i would certainly urge anyone to try it.

i never would have enjoyed this day as much as i did if i were out there with a regular race plan. it was fun, but i'm definitely excited to head back to the burnlington 1/2 someday to see what sort of time i'm capable of finishing it. i've got a couple more races this year with similar race plans, but, for me at least, this type of racing can get old very fast. i like finishing near the front and i like training to try to bring my times down. i'm getting older and have a limited number of years where i'll be able to finish near the front, so for now me and my ego are working together to see what we can do. and my coach, too. can't forget about him.

also, a HUGE congrats to my friend suzanne who finished 2nd in the women's race. we train together at AETT and it's always awesome to see friends on the podium.

two days out and not sure what to do

i'm two days away from my first half marathon and i'm trying to figure out what to expect. this is a training race and i'm heading to it with a strict plan so that's making it difficult to predict an outcome. this will be a negative-split race, my heart rates and pace from the first half of the race lower than those from my second. i have to be smart about it because my first 10k have to be a pace that i can maintain without using up too much of my strength. if i go out too hot i'll crash at the end, but i also don't want to go out too slow because i want to get a time that's fairly respectable for someone of my fitness level. and how am i going to feel? will i be crawling across the finish line? will i be able to get negative splits and still feel strong at the end? is this going to be a walk in the park? will i never want to run again? i'm totally out on this one and it's tough for sure.

in terms of finish time, i'm completely in the dark for two reasons. the first is that i have no previous half marathon times to go by; the second is that i have no idea what my pace will be. if i were heading to the race tomorrow to set a benchmark, my goal would be to run less than 1.30. but that's not what tomorrow is about. tomorrow is about sticking to my race plan and finishing strong. above all else, the toughest thing about tomorrow will be putting my ego in the backseat and allowing the slower athletes to whiz by me at the start. but maybe i'll be able to make up for it by passing them all in the last 10k? we'll see. either way sunday is going to be a learning experience and i'll be sure to enjoy it. the weather looks like it's going to be ideal and i'm looking forward to the experience. even if i do end up collapsing at the end.

Post Race Report - Peterborough YMCA 5k

i've never started off a race morning by sleeping in, but today was the exception for sure. start time for this one was 12.45pm, so there was no rush to get the day going. not only was it new for me to be able to sleep in and get some extra rest before a race, but my meal plan was also different. i usually only have to eat breakfast before a race, but today i had time for that and lunch. i hadn't really given this any thought ahead of time and was all set to make my regular race morning meal, but realized that by the time the race started i'd need a whole other meal to fuel myself properly. i stuck with my regular breakfast shake and packed a race lunch which i ate about an hour before the race. it was sort of weird to have to pack a full meal on race day but i just went with it.

happening alongside this 5k race was a half marathon, and just as i was finishing up my warm-up, the procession of marathoners, off 15 minutes before the start of the 5k, ran past me. i felt pretty ridiculous tromping around doing my dynamic warm-ups while hundreds of people passed by. i figured it was better to look like an idiot bouncing around on one leg than leave the race with injuries, so again i just went with it.

one change to my racing that i'm starting this year is taking things more slowly off the start line. at past races my adrenaline would usually get the best of me and i'd burst off the line and burn too much energy too soon. in order to combat the urge to sprint, i put myself about 3 rows back from the front at the start line, and at the sound of the gun i was forced to calmly make my way past the slower athletes ahead of me. this new strategy seemed to pay off and i found myself near the front of the field by the 500m mark, and i'd settled into race pace well before reaching the first kilometre marker. at this point there were about 6 guys running neck and neck in the lead and me and two other runners equally spread out taking up the 7th, 8th and 9th positions. this was a fast and flat out and back course and at the 2.5k turnaround point i had moved up two spots to 7th position, with the runner in 6th about 100 metres ahead. i used that runner to pace myself and didn't worry about catching him too soon, feeling that i'd get to him before the end of the race and kept watch to see if he started to break away. i began to close the gap and as i got closer, i gave myself a small boost for a count of 10 before settling back down, and gave one more small boost for another count of 10 as i passed him just as we hit the 4k marker. things were going well at this point and i was feeling worked but strong. with about 800 metres remaining, the course took a sharp left-hand turn before finishing off with a long, flat, straight section.

i'm quite certain this was the hardest finish of any race i've done. what made it so difficult was that i could see the finish line for that entire last section, and it never felt like it was getting any closer. it was sort of like driving on a lonely country road where the scenery all looks the same and there's not really any landmarks and it feels like no matter how long you've been driving it seems like you're not getting anywhere. i was pushing to get myself across the line, digging to find any extra energy reserves that i might still have left. i was able to get a number of short bursts in and crossed the line ready to keel over and pass out. that's the thing with these short races; they may not take too long to complete but you really have to go balls out for the entire race to get a good time. luckily i'm able to recover quickly and was feeling fine shortly after finishing, but those last several hundred metres were tough.

in the end i finished with a time of 18.01, 6th overall, and had i looked at my watch as i was approaching the end, i likely would have known that with just a bit more effort i could break the 18 minute mark. but i'll take that 18.01 because it's just what i want this early in the year. i knew that i wasn't capable of pulling off a personal best today and i'm happy with my fitness level right now. i've got a long season ahead of me and plenty of opportunity for PBs. feeling as exhausted as i did at the end of this race, i couldn't believe that i have to run a half marathon next week. 18 minutes is nothing compared to nearly 2 hours of running, but i guess i'll just have to go with it.

race change

a couple of weeks ago i was all set to register for my first race of 2010, the tim hortons grimsby 5k. turns out that the information i got about this race earlier in the year was incorrect, and this is actually a 3k race, not a 5k. once aware of this new information, i promptly began searching for another race and discovered a 5k race in peterborough, and that's where i'm heading tomorrow morning.

i'm trying to decide how i feel about tomorrow. this race is sort of big for me but i'm not nervous; i feel sort of ready for it but i know that i'm still not quite; i want to get a personal best 5k time but i don't think that i will. this will be my first organized, competitive race since my injury last august. that injury was a huge setback and only since january have i been feeling like i'm beginning to regain my running strength. more than anything i'll be using this race to gauge my fitness level compared to this time last year. i know that i'm not any faster than i was, but i need this race to tell me if i'm at the same level or, if not, just how far behind. i'll also be using my heart rates from tomorrow's 5k to determine my race plan for next week's half marathon.

for finishing expectations i'm remaining realistic: i would like to make the top 10 overall, but i'll only be able to finish in the top 10 if i can run at the pace that i would like to maintain. i'm certain i can break 20 minutes, i hope to break 19 minutes, and i'll be thrilled if i can break 18 minutes. but breaking 18 minutes is a bit too far fetched at this point and i'm certain i won't even come close. my 5k pb is 17.40, but i don't think tomorrow is my day to break it; i'm just not strong enough yet. tomorrow's race is all about having fun and seeing what my body is capable of this early in the year. and it's also about trying not to break my neck in the slippery, sloppy, mushy snow that's blanketed southern ontario in the past couple days. this snow is making for pretty good packing snow so i might just start whipping snowballs at all of the athletes ahead of me. maybe i'll get on the podium that way.

dynamic warm-ups

throughout the year as my running mileage and intensity has increased, i've started noticing patterns. it seems that my best running performances tend to take place during brick workouts, where i do my running after spending some time on the bike. when my workouts are run-only, my body usually feels pretty beat up after finishing anything longer than a 60-minute effort. a huge goal of mine for 2010 is to remain injury free, and it was seeming like no matter what sort of strength and flexibility i've incorporated into my training, things still felt off and i wasn't going to be able to shake any seemingly inevitable injuries. during a recent trip to see my chiropractor with complaints of a sore left knee (similar to injuries in the past), i explained the whole everything is fine if i ride first situation. i let out a huge sigh of relief when i was told that the pain wasn't joint related at all, but that my knee was hurting because my hamstrings weren't getting warmed up properly before long run-only workouts. it seemed like such a no brainer to me afterwards! obviously my legs are warmed up much better after spending some time on the bike, but a typical warm-up while running would only consist of some light jogging before my hard efforts.

anyways, my sports chiro suggested that i look into dynamic warm-ups. i did some online research and came across a few articles, but i wasn't until i found this little gem on youtube that i was able to put together a warm-up routine and try it out. there were improvements immediately and i haven't had any soreness or muscle tightness in two full weeks of training with my new warm-ups. i've added a few small things that aren't in the video to make it slightly more multisport specific, but otherwise my routine is pretty much the same that you see here. combined with stretching, dynamic warm-ups have made a huge difference in my recovery and and how i feel post-workout, and i would recommend it to anyone. if you're trying to spot me on race day, look for the moron doing the completely ridiculous looking warm-up routine off to the side.

lactate test

my coach is general manager of absolute endurance, arguably one of the best multisport training facilities in the province. i do almost all of my training at absolute, and having access to the facilities and having a coach that owns the place comes with some pretty nice perks. one of those perks is lactate testing. the purpose of a lactate test is to determine what your lactate threshold is, and then use that information to determine training zones. particularly valuable to endurance athletes, you train in those zones to increase your lactate threshold, thereby increasing your performance. by no stretch of the imagination am i an expert on the subject, but in the very simplest of terms, your lactate threshold is the point just below the work effort that your body switches from using its fat supplies as its primary energy source to using carbohydrates as its primary energy source. your body burns through carbs much faster than fats, and an average person could very likely run a marathon at a very low exertion effort, using fat supplies to make it through the race. however, once that same person's body starts working harder and their heart rate increases, there's a point at which the body will switch to burning carbs. if not properly re-fueled, the body will run out of carbs long before crossing the finish line. the idea is that if you train just below your lactate threshold, your body slowly begins to adapt and will eventually switch to burning carbs at higher heart rates.

for those multisport athletes out there, we all know that our heart rates are much lower on the bike portion of the race than they are while running. that means you have to train in zones differently for each discipline. in november, when i had recovered enough from an injury that put me out for three months, i started my new training program with my coach. my leg was still recovering and it was too soon for a running lactate test, so my coach started me off with a test on the bike to see where i was at. going only from my workout logs from the past three months and how my body has felt, i knew that my cycling had improved since then, but it wasn't until last night's second lactate test that my coach and i got a much better idea of how far things have come in that time.

it would take me too long time to completely break the test down but i'll try to explain the jist of it. both tests (the first in november, the second last night) were identical and started out the same: i began by pushing 160 watts, i would ride for three minutes then my coach would record my heart rate, watts would then increase by 20, i'd ride for three more minutes and have my heart rate recorded, watts would again be increased by 20. this keeps going until, by feel only, i knew that i was working hard (when you know you're working hard, lactate is in the system). at this point it's a tough effort, about 80% of max, which i should only be able to hold for about 15-20 minutes. this is when my first blood test is taken and my blood lactate is recorded. at this point the watts are brought way down and held at a level that allows my heart rate to settle at 145bpm. this is the recovery portion of the test. once my heart rate has settled, my blood lactate is measured again and the watts start coming back up every three minutes. when the watts start climbing again, my heart rate slowly starts to come up again, and the test ends when my blood lactate level goes about 4 mmol/l (whatever that means). the numbers (both heart rate and wattage) just below that level is my lactate threshold.

so that's the complicated part. here's the real world, laymen part: in three months i've increased my wattage at my lactate threshold by 70 watts. and not only has my power output increased, but my recovery time has decreased. in theory that means that i'll be able to ride a course for a sustained effort at 70 watts higher than i could have three months ago, and i'll be able to push harder sooner after a big climb. this is a HUGE improvement!!! not only was my coach very excited with the results, but i was ecstatic! it was so awesome to see some fancy scientific numbers affirming what i already feel: i've come a long way on the bike in a short period of time.

another great thing that has come out of this test is that it's clear i know my body. at two different points during the test my coach asked me to guess my heart rate and my watts (which were blind to me) and both times i guessed them bang-on. this means that out there on race day i should be able to gauge how hard my body is working and i should know how long i can hold a specific effort. this should payoff huge in race management, helping to ensure i don't go out on the bike too hard too soon.

my body feels great on the bike, the numbers show gains, and next week i'll have a chance for a real-world cycling fitness improvement test. every so often absolute endurance has indoor 40k time trials. i haven't been able to do one since the end of october because of schedule conflicts, so next week's TT will be my first opportunity to do some side-by-side fitness comparisons. i don't honestly expect to be able to average 70 more watts for over an hour, but i do expect improvements. either way i'm looking forward to the workout.

too bad running is a whole other issue. my running speed is still sucky and slow slow slow. a geriatric in a wheelchair could probably beat me across the finish line in a running race.

you know you're working too much when...

...getting home from the office before 6pm on a sunday night is something practically worth celebrating. work has been completely insane since the end of last november, and every time i think it's going to die down it gets crazy again. the past two weeks i've been working like a madman, barely getting three hours of training in each week. but as of today, with the completion of my latest project, work officially cools down until the madness begins all over again, which it undoubtedly will. i love my job and i enjoy my work, but 16-hour workdays and working 14 days straight is lame-o.

getting right back on the training wagon, i have a lactate test on the bike tomorrow which i'm actually pretty excited about. my last bike lactate test was at the end of last october, so this will be an indication of how my riding has progressed since then. my coach has scheduled wednesday as a day off for me, but i think i'll sneak a workout it anyways. i'll just have to keep it a secret.

absolute endurance on breakfast television!

just got the word that absolute endurance (where i do most of my training) will be on breakfast television tomorrow morning (feb 4th), starting at about 7am. from the email i just received:

"Starting at around 7 am we will be featuring a few of the main components of our facility (computrainer, pool etc) and one of these 3 minute segments will be Cindy and I demonstrating and explaining a run analysis and how we use this information to treat our athletes and patients."

happy viewing!

triathlon canada athlete of the year awards

click here to nominate someone for olympic triathlon, long distance triathlon, duathlon, off road triathlon, grand master (60+) or an athlete with a disability. the deadline for nominations is february 5th.

good luck to all nominees!

2010 race schedule

tonight i had the opportunity to sit down with my coach and talk about my 2010 racing schedule. i'm already amped for this year and i've got a few big races scattered throughout the season that i'm particularly looking forward to. the two of us sat down and we started with me naming off all the races that i would like to do, and then coach al gave me a few choices, made some recommendations and designed a schedule that focuses on my 'A' races, ultimately leading me to the worlds in september. what will be different in 2010 is that i won't just be heading to all of my races with speed and finishing time as the focus; each race is being used to help me prepare for others, and some races are being used strictly as training tools. some races will be fun and i'll be out there to see how hard i can push myself, while others will have a pre-determined race plan that i'll be expected to adhere to. this schedule will likely change once i know when and where the provincial and canadian duathlon championships are, but this is what it looks like for now:

february 28 - grimsby 5k
my first race of the year will be fast and flat. i'll be using it to gauge my fitness level, and my coach will be using my split times from this race to determine what the race plan for my next race will look like.

march 07 - chilly half marathon, burlington
my first half marathon! this race will be a very strict training race, not a "let's go out and see how fast i can run a half marathon" race. the focus of this one will be negative splits for the entire race, starting off easy and finishing hard, fast and strong.

arpil 04 - philly's fools 10k, whitby
i placed 2nd overall in this race last year so this race will be an opportunity to see where my running is at compared to 2009, and it will also be an opportunity for me to try a different race strategy on a familiar course. last year i lost this race by going out too hard too soon. in 2010 i'll race smarter.

april 25 - us national duathlon championships, richmond, virginia
i'm going to head to richmond, va, to race against the best in the US. an 'A' race for sure, my first duathlon of the year will be a big one.

may 16 - limestone duathlon, kingston
a great opportunity for me to compare my fitness level to what it was in 2009. i'll be returning to this race for the second year in a row, and more than anything else i'll be looking to see how my bike splits have changed year over year.

may 24 - victoria's duathlon, waterloo
i'll be dancing with ontario's best multisport athletes at this one. i was too intimidated to enter this race in 2009, but in 2010 i'll be making my rookie debut at one of the most anticipated races of the season.

june 26 - welland duathlon
returning to welland for the third year in a row will present another opportunity to compare year over year times, my favourite way to track personal fitness improvements.

july 17 - gravenhurst duathlon
i always look forward to this race. there's nothing like leaving the cottage early in the morning and crossing a misty, glassy lake to get to race site. this has always been a challenging race in the heart of cottage country, and i've heard rumors of a new bike course for 2010.

august 15 - toronto islands duathlon
fast and flat, i'll be looking to push big numbers on the bike this year and cross the line with a good finish for the hometown crowd.

august 22 - orillia triathlon
this will be a key training race for me in preparation for the world championships. i won't be heading to this race to break any records, but there will be a focus on bike performance.

september 05 - duathlon world championships, edinburgh, scotland
my big race of the year. the race of the year. everything up until this point will have been geared towards making sure that i perform at my best here. i've set a very ambitious goal of finishing top 10 in my age group and i want to hit it. if all goes to plan and i remain injury free, i should have a strong race.

september 19 - lakeside duathlon
fully recovered from the world champioships, my first race back on canadian soil will be lakeside.

october 09 - fall colours duathlon
this is a fun little race just outside of ottawa that i had to miss in 2009 because of injury. i'm looking forward to returning to it in 2010.

i'll likely do a couple of running races in the fall, perhaps even taking on another half marathon. one of the races that i was looking forward to doing in 2010 was the sporting life 10k, but on my coach's recommendation i'll be sitting it out this year. missing it will allow me to build up to victoria's duathlon a bit better. this schedule is tentative and will likely change with the announcement of the provincial championships, and perhaps even with the announcement of the canadian championships, but i'm only going to go to the canadian's if the race is close by. regardless, i'm very excited about this schedule. i wanted to race less this year and focus more on key races, and my coach came up with a schedule that does just that. i'm still concerned about my running fitness but it's slowly coming back up; it's definitely not what it used to be, but by the time the worlds get here in september, i hope to be in top form. i've learned the hard way that injuries are a part of racing but i'm doing what i can to stay strong. 2010 is here, my first race is about 6 weeks away, and i'm psyched. this may not be a huge year for me, but it's definitely going to be a good year.


my coach threw me a curveball for my ride tonight. a typical workout on the bike is warm-up, maintain a certain heart rate/wattage, then gradually build up. tonight's workout started the same way with a 30 min warm up followed by a tough hour of steady state riding. but rather than building up from there i had to blast right up to my maximum heart rate, hold it, and then start coming down gradually over timed intervals. three minutes into my second set, just below my max hr zone, i had to pull the plug because i went out too hard and overly ambitious. this is the first time i've struggled mentally through a workout and been defeated by one. a few minutes after some easy spinning my legs had recovered and were ready to go again, but by then it was too late. it was already over for me.

i'm trying to think of what i can learn from this and take away from it. right up until i crashed my heart rates and my wattage were bang-on, but for whatever reason i just couldn't push through this one. i was fueled and hydrated and feeling strong. this was a tough workout for sure but i should have been able to get through it. aaaarrrgghhh... very frustrating.


a shout out to my brother-in-law, jon, and his newly launched website, i don't know if me trying to explain exactly what he is capable of doing for athletes will do it any justice, so take a look at his site. based on the results of fitness and functional tests, jon designed a weight training, strengthening and flexibility program to target all of my weaknesses and imbalances in an effort to move me faster and prevent injury. if you're looking for something similar, check out his site. you'll see that his services don't end there, extending into all aspects of a healthy lifestyle.

happy new year!

the new year is here, another decade is behind us, the holidays are finally winding down and my life is getting ready to return to normality. but until it does i'll continue to enjoy it. i'd like to wish everyone and their families, friends and loved ones all the best in 2010.