Steelhead 70.3

November 26, 2011

My original 70.3 race schedule for 2011 was Florida in May, Welland in June and Syracuse in September. Syracuse was my 'A' race for the year so getting in a couple of performances I felt good about in the lead up to that race was important.  The year started off well with a great race in Florida, but I had some major hiccups in Welland that cost me my race and left me near faint when I crossed the finish line.  Following that disaster my confidence was low and I wanted at least one more solid, successful race before Syracuse, and after giving it some thought and chatting it over with my coach, I decided to join a few friends that were heading to Steelhead.

Out of the weeds.

November 21, 2011

This cold of mine completely floored me.  Training has been nothing but light maintenance work (if anything at all) for the past month but it looks like things are finally clearing up.  Things got so bad that I went see my doctor to get my thyroid and iron levels checked because I was so tired all the time, even with training at a standstill.  All of my energy was consumed with getting better and I was left in a constant state of exhaustion.  Numbers are back up on the bike, recovery from workouts has sped up, and running no longer leaves me feeling hoarse.  I'm still feeling vulnerable to sickness and things are still pretty light until I'm back up to 100%, but it looks like training for next year can finally (FINALLY!!!) begin.

Off to a slow start.

November 05, 2011

The hardest part of being sick is your body telling you to go, go, go, while your head tells you to stay right where you are.  I've had a cold for the past three weeks that doesn't want to go away, and I've had to shut down training because of it.  I'm through the worst of it, but it's lingering and still making things difficult.  A few weeks ago I started training with a power meter and have already been exposed to its value.  Last week I was trying to push myself through a tough workout on the bike.  I'd woken up that morning feeling better than I had in several days so I decided to take a shot at the ride.  It was clear during my first set of intervals I was still weak and sick and nowhere near ready for a workout like that.  It took everything I had to hold numbers that were below the bottom end of what I usually push, so I pulled the plug, hopped off the bike, and haven't done anything since.  Not exactly the start to next season I was hoping for.

The most frustrating part is lying awake in the mornings trying to get myself back to sleep.  I'm so accustomed to waking up early to train that most mornings I don't need an alarm, and by the time I'm falling back asleep, it's time to get up.  However, getting out of bed early when you don't have to train does allow time for other things that have been neglected over the past few weeks.  Such as blog posts.  And laundry.  And flossing.

NRG Performance Training

October 23, 2011

First up on the long list of overdue blog posts is the announcement that I'm now working with Nigel Gray from NRG Performance Training.  The decision to switch coaches was a difficult one, but the amount of detail and attention he's poured into every minute of every workout assures me I'm in good hands.  This guy is a pro; he's been coaching and racing as one of Canada's top triathletes for years and it shows in his program.  I get pretty psyched thinking about what next year may bring for me and I've already shifted all of my focus on making it a big year, and with Nigel directing me I'm confident it will be just that.

One blog post down, several to go.

Has it really been two months since my last post?

October 14, 2011

Yikes... It's been a long time since my last update.  It's been so long and there have been so many new developments that I don't even know where I'd begin.  I have three race reports to blog about, two disqualifications, a new coach, a new job, new gear and lots more.  I'm finding it harder and harder to find the time to sit down to complete my blog entries.  Perhaps a commitment to shorter entries will encourage me to do more.

Podium Finish

August 18, 2011

was in benton harbor, michigan this past weekend for the steelhead 70.3.  the swim was cancelled because of some crazy weather, but i crossed the finish line 3rd in my age group.  my first podium finish in a triathlon.  psyched.  full race report to follow.

One of those days...

June 30, 2011

i'm trying to forget about all the things that went wrong in welland.  i'm trying to learn from the mishaps and mistakes and become a better athlete for it.  but it's hard.  it's hard to let go of the fact that things were going so well then fell apart.  it's hard to think about things other than the fact that i was on my way to a top finish.  but this day in welland was not the day for me.  this day would test me, push me towards my mental and physical limits and knock me down.

florida 70.3 - what worked and what didn't

June 22, 2011

with welland only days away and a couple of weeks to reflect on my experience in florida, here are a few things that worked and will stay the same, and a few things that didn't work and need improvement.

happy father's day

June 19, 2011

I know what you're going through and I'm here to tell you you're not alone.  We tri-dads never compromise our time with our children and adjust our schedules to train at hours of the day when the rest of the world is either fast asleep or crawling into bed. Our infant sons and daughters wake us up several times each night and these sleepless nights add up. We train when dizzy with fatigue and it's a struggle to get our training hours in. Long gone are the days when making up missed workouts was possible. Also long gone is the ability to recover quickly. "Try to get a minimum of 8 hours sleep for optimal recovery". 8? How about 3. And that's a good night. Many say we're obsessed, we say we're determined. Our performance on race day may be jeopardized but you'll never hear us complain. We'll only talk about how wonderful fatherhood is. The only thing that trumps our passion for the sport is our passion for our kids.

When we've pushed ourselves beyond exhaustion and are fighting to keep ourselves awake as we're putting our young ones to bed, we have something more rewarding than a podium finish could ever be: We have our daughters and we have our sons and we love them more than anything. Our training is just one small part of us being the best dads we can be.

Happy father's day.

Ride For Heart

May 29, 2011

i couldn't resist the temptation to ride the gardiner/DVP so i've signed up for next weekend's Ride For Heart.  it's gonna be fun.  and it will also be for a good cause.  i keep forgetting that detail.

if you'd like to throw some money at me in support of the Heart & Stroke foundation, please follow this link to donate.

florida 70.3

May 19, 2011

this day started early.  i met my coach and a couple of other absolute endurance athletes in the hotel lobby at 4am.  it was pitch black but it was dry.  severe thunderstorms were in the forecast and by the time we'd made it over to the disney world parking lots, the rain was coming down heavy.  forks of lightning lit the sky, and just as we were boarding the shuttle bus to the start/finish area, a lightning strike and a massive crack of thunder directly overhead took out half the lights in the parking lot.  the lightning must have hit a transformer close by and everyone was wondering whether or not the race was going to be called off.  remaining optimistic, we boarded the shuttle buses and made our way to race site.

Studio Maya

May 18, 2011

i'm happy to announce that i've reached a sponsorship agreement with Studio Maya, a yoga studio that has just recently opened close to wear i work.  maya, the studio director, is definitely the most unique yogi i've practiced with.  a huge thank you to her for partnering with me and supporting me.  if ever in the york mills area and looking for some yoga, check them out.  much fun.

first one's in the bag

May 15, 2011

finished florida 70.3 this morning and am psyched with the results.  highlights of the day were sub-35 min swim and third fastest half marathon in my age group.  full race report to follow.

this. heat. is. brutal.

May 12, 2011

made it to orlando safely, but only after a long, difficult day of travel that included such highlights as missing a flight and sitting on the runway for an hour, inches from the jet way, waiting out a storm.

the main reason i wanted to get here several days before the race was to acclimatize myself to training in this heat.  i did a ride this morning in an effort to do just that and lucked out with a glorious, traffic-free road that wound along lakes, rivers and glades.  i had to drive about 30 minutes to get away from the tourist-jammed areas close to the disney resorts, but it was well worth it.  the heat was hovering around 27°C with humidity up near 90%.  not exactly the type of weather i'm used to.  on the bike i didn't notice the heat too much, the wind helping to keep me cool.  it wasn't until i hit the halfway point of my ride and stopped to turn around that i realized i was dripping with sweat.  i'd been sticking to my race plan and had been drinking continuously and felt good, but the difference between what the heat felt like in the wind and what it actual was was pretty amazing.

a good reality check.  even though it may not feel like it while riding, it's hot here.  really hot.  i did a short run after my ride and didn't take any water with me but could feel dehydration starting to settle in.  sunday's race will be a huge test in managing hydration.  and sunburns.

getting close

May 10, 2011

orlando is only a few days away and the more i think about it, the more excited i am about the race.  i'm looking forward to it so much because it's a race with one only goal, which is to finish strong.  there's nothing on the line and these types of races are always the most fun.  no stress.  this is my first 70.3 (and first tri in 12 years!) and i'm heading to the race to simply dip my toes in and get my feet wet with the distance.

swimming is coming along well and has been steadily improving since january.  i'm feeling more and more at home in the water and can feel the benefit of every little change my coach has me make to my swim stroke.  running also feels really good right now.  i did a half marathon a couple of weeks ago and had better than expected results.  however, my half marathon fitness off the bike is still up in the air.  a real wild card is my bike fitness.  because i've been focusing so much on running over the past several months, my riding is not nearly as strong as it was last season.  also a big change from last year is training in general... racing at longer distances brings a whole other type of training, but how that will translate into results on race day is unknown.

what i do know is the swim at this race is slow (no wetsuits) and crowded, the bike is fast and flat, the run is just as packed with people as the swim, and the heat and humidity are unforgiving.  with that weather in mind, i've been working on dialing in a nutrition and hydration plan that will (hopefully) have me fueled, strong and ready for the run.  although i'm uncertain of my fitness and how well i'll fare at this distance, i am certain i'm prepared for this race.

i'm heading to orlando to have some fun, gauge my health, put a nutrition plan to the test and finish strong.  it's likely i'll make some rookie mistakes, but i'm kinda looking forward to that part.  i want to laugh and smile and enjoy myself out there and making an ass of myself may help lighten the mood.  maybe i'll run the half marathon backwards on purpose just to get some strange looks.

my next step. literally.

March 31, 2011

i've had numerous running-related injuries over the past few years and am going to hop on the bandwagon and start moving toward a minimalist running shoe.  everything i've been told and have read suggests that as running shoe technology and materials "improve", running injuries still continue to rise.  after researching several different candidates, i've decided to gradually transition away from my bulky, heavy anti-pronating shoes to the saucony kinvara.  two years ago i made an uneducated jump into a racing flat and wound up with a stress fracture, so this transition will be very slow and very gradual and i hope to be running in them full time by the end of the year.


March 29, 2011

was out of town this weekend but still had to get my training in.  was much colder than anticipated and this guy greeted me in the mirror at the end of my run.


March 24, 2011

i've added the provincial duathlon championships to my schedule this year.  i was hoping to do a couple more duathlons this season but after talking things over with my coach, some of the other races i'm interested in will likely be detrimental to my 70.3 in syracuse.  see you in cobourg.

check out my entire 2011 race schedule here.

age group profile

March 21, 2011

friend, competitor and fellow blogger larry bradley was kind enough to include me in his ongoing age group interview series.  i read all of them and am honoured to be a part of it.  check it out here.

thanks, LB.

made it through

March 18, 2011

it's been more than two months, but it looks like i've finally beaten this latest injury.  after a 5k race simulation last weekend and some track work this week, it appears that my knee's strength has returned to a level that i don't need to hold myself back any longer.  run intensity and volume are at 100%, putting me on track with eight weeks to go until florida 70.3.  run speed is long gone and will take a lot of work to get back, but at least i'm up off the sidelines.  hallelujah.

it's taken a whole team of people to help me through this one and i wanted to give a shout out to all of them.  first and foremost, dave frake from balance physiotherapy has seen me through this thing from the very beginning.  for several weeks i was seeing him up to three times a week and he guided me through each stage of the injury and gave me instructions on how to safely ease back into training without overdoing it.  i've seen many physiotherapists over the years and frake is by far the most knowledgeable, patient and effective.  he's also an incredible athlete.  he won his age group at last year's world duathlon championships and finished sixth overall.  cindy from absolute endurance (another incredible athlete) worked her ART magic and saw me immediately following several workouts, and carrie ann from totum is the most talented (and by talented i mean least forgiving!) RMT i've used over the years.  being on her table can be torturous but the rewards are well worth it.

thanks, all.

ramping up.

March 08, 2011

the past couple weeks have been my first weeks of full, heavy training since early in the new year.  i've been slowly ramping up my running again as i move past my most recent injury, and things seem to be getting better with every week.  duration is up to 90 minutes on the treadmill and intensity is coming along as well.  this morning, for the first time in two months, i was running at over 10mph.  it was only for 90 second intervals, but still an achievement.  my first race of the year was supposed to be a 5k this weekend in toronto, but i'm nowhere near ready so i've had to scrap it.  i'm confident i'll be ready for a 10k a few weeks from now and a half marathon at the end of april, but neither of those races will be fast ones; both will be training tools to help me get stronger in preparation for the triathlon season.  a month ago i was feeling like my season was over, now i'm feeling like it's just beginning.  a much later start than i'd been hoping for but it's a start nonetheless.

on the mend. i think.

February 11, 2011

after 5 weeks of downtime things are starting to show real signs of improvement.  on wednesday night, for the first time since the beginning of the new year, i went for a run outside, and although i wasn't feeling 100% i got through it without any issues.  and things felt great afterwards.  irritation on the bike seems to be disappearing as well, and last night in the pool my knee hardly fussed.  i'm away for the next week and am hoping that after yet another easy week of little or no training i'll be ready to start ramping things up in preparation for orlando.  i'm being cautious of my optimism because i don't want to get too excited, but i'm feeling like i'm finally starting to get past this.  i'll tread lightly until my strength is back and will ease into it, but here's hoping my body cooperates.

2011 race schedule

February 04, 2011

at this point the first half of my season is in jeopardy.  training is at a near stand-still in an effort to help my body heal faster, and with minimal improvement, i may be shutting things down completely over the next couple weeks.  the inflammation in my knee is effecting every aspect of my training.  when my injuries finally get sorted out and my year gets started, running will be my focus.  my triathlon season will wrap up in september and at that point i'll switch to running-only races and try to set some personal best times in the 5k, 10k and half marathon.  that schedule hasn't been sorted out just yet, and the schedule below will likely change depending on the status of injuries.  here's what my year looks like right now:

March 13
Achilles St. Patrick's Day 5k

April 03
Toronto 10k

April 24
Uxbridge Half Marathon

May 15
Florida 70.3

June 26
Welland Half Ironman

August 28
Toronto Islands Duathlon

September 18
Syracuse 70.3

baby steps

January 31, 2011

was on the treadmill yesterday for the first time in ten days.  did 2 x 10mins super easy with a 5 minute walk in between.  knee problems are still there but improved.  during my last run i nearly collapsed from the pain, but yesterday there was only an ache present and i made it through.  this week will be a couple more of these workouts along with more ultrasound, laser treatment and ibuprofen.

my body wants to ruuuuuuuunnn, my head says respect the injury.

the good and the bad of it

January 27, 2011

january started off strong but has since gone downhill.  it has not been a good training month for me.  a crazy work schedule, injury, illness and travel have provided plenty of interruptions.  the bad news first: because of the inflammation in my knee i haven't been able to run for more than a week.  even though it hurt i tried toughing it out and made it through several workouts, but that only made things worse.  i've missed many speed, strength and volume workouts at this crucial time of year.  i'll try running sunday but i've been advised by my physiotherapist to take another week off if there's even the slightest twinge of discomfort.  for now it's stretching, ultrasound and laser therapy.  i've also caught a nasty cold that kept me home one day this week and i only returned to work because i'm busy and can't afford the downtime.

but here's the good news:  while my running falls further and further behind, my riding continues to get better and better.  right now i'm sustaining wattages that i could barely touch last year.  swimming is also going well.  sometimes i feel like i'm just flailing around in the water, but for the most part i'm starting to show improvements.  also good is the fact that i still have time.  it's only january and that means i still have a few weeks before the 12-week lead-up to my first big race begins.  hopefully my knee will be sorted out by then and i can get back on track.

2011 and beyond

January 21, 2011

as 2010 came to an end i knew it was time to make some changes.  not only had i been disappointed with how my race year had unfolded, i also wasn't feeling excited about racing in 2011.  with no trip to the world championships, the esprit duathlon in montreal was the only race that i was looking forward to.  the esprit has been on my radar for a number of years but i've never been able to fit it into my schedule, and now that i was open in september i figured it would be the perfect opportunity to head to the race.  but as much as i've always wanted to compete on that course (how can an Formula 1 fan like myself not want to ride 9 laps on the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve?), i was having a hard time justifying pouring hours and hours of weekly training into a race that, ultimately, i wouldn't get that much out of.  sure... it's an exciting venue and a trip to montreal is always fun, but otherwise, for me at least, it's just another race.

while trying to sort out a season that i could look forward to (and, more importantly, feel justified in training hard for), i found that i was missing a couple of crucial factors.  the first was i needed a big race to be excited about.  the provincial du championships is a big race for me every year, but at this point i'm feeling like qualifying for the national team is a given; i'm a strong enough athlete that even without a win i should be able to secure a spot at the duathlon worlds.  like i mentioned above, the esprit definitely fit the bill in terms of a fun race to look forward to, but it's not a qualifier for anything nor a championship race of any kind.

the second thing i was missing was something to help me grow as an athlete.  the multisport racing scene in ontario is incredible, but i was just feeling the need for something bigger.  i've always wanted to move up to longer distances but there's only a small number of duathlons on the local circuits that go beyond the international 10/40/5 distance.  from the very beginning i've always wanted to race longer distances, and when i first got in to triathlon in '98, i got in to it for one reason: kona.  the idea of competing one day at the ironman world championships in kona ignited a fire in my heart that is still burning today.  duathlon is an incredible sport and i love it, but the simple fact of the matter is that nothing like kona exists in duathlon.  i can train and train and train and train, but no matter what, no matter what my results are, no matter how many races i compete in or win or do well at or whatever, there's still no kona.  over the past few seasons i've been competing as a duathlete, but all of my training has been aimed directly at moving back into triathlons when ready.  and with the way i was feeling about 2011, i knew that time had arrived.  in 2011 i'll be competing in 70.3 triathlons.

over the next few years i'll be working towards qualifying for the 70.3 world championships then, eventually, kona.  i have absolutely no expectations for 2011 because it will be my base year; it will be the year i always look back at to compare and see how far i've come.  kona is a long-term goal. and by long-term i really mean long-term.  full ironman distance racing is still years away for me. right now my focus will be climbing up the 70.3 ranks in my age group to get into a position to be a contender for a spot at the 70.3 world championships.  it's going to take some time and i like that, and in order for it to happen i have to improve.  over the next few seasons i'll grow as an athlete, working on taking my riding to the next level, pursuing ambitious running goals, and learning how to move through the water as efficiently as possible.

making the decision to return to triathlons in 2011 re-ignited an excitement in me that had started to fade.  i'm more excited about 2011 and beyond than all of my previous racing years.  i'm ready, but we'll see just how able.  first order of business is the issue of swimming.  have you ever met someone that has that mind boggling ability to somehow float in the water with absolutely no effort whatsoever?  well, that's not me.  i sink like a stone.

the root of it all

January 13, 2011

2011 is off to a good start but, surprise surprise, another injury has popped up.  during my ride last saturday a pain developed in my right knee.  i took a break about an hour into it, stretched things out and was able to finish my 2.5 hour workout, but the pain is still hovering a week later.  this is just the latest in a string of injuries i've had over the past two years, one after the other.  my first major injury happened in milton in 2009 when i fell off my bike.  i fell onto my left side but it was my right side that became the problem.  in august of 2009 i developed a stress fracture in my right leg which put me off my feet for three months.  late last year i wiped out on my bike, landing hard on my left shoulder, but, again, it was my right side that became the problem.  i started working with a new physiotherapist in december, initially determined to sort out my shoulder because it wasn't improving, and what i got was a breakthrough diagnosis that explains everything over the past few years.  i have scoliosis.  my spine is bent.

this image is an exaggeration of my condition, but because of the scoliosis, my posture makes me favour the left side of my body, which makes it much stronger, and therefore more stable, than my right.  so that means even if i sustain trauma on my left side, it's the right side of my body with the serious complications.  it's a long term problem with no short term solutions.  i've had to completely adjust my posture in a day-to-day effort to sort this out.  like always i'm determined to get through this and this was the most encouraging diagnosis i've had over the years because suddenly everything made sense.  it's no wonder i keep getting hurt!  and even better news is that if this gets sorted out, it may mean the end of these silly and frustrating injuries that are hitting me far too frequently. fingers crossed.