Monday, July 6, 2015

Muskoka 70.3

Someone pinch me I think I'm dreaming . . .

Sunday I competed at the Muskoka Ironman 70.3 in Huntsville, ON which many of you know was a redemption race from last year where I crossed the finish line absolutely broken and disheartened. I was hoping last year this race would be my big breakout.

The week going into the race was your typical taper. I felt good in my swim and bike workouts, but my legs felt like lead bricks. Even race morning I was a little worried about how I was going to run. The night before when talking to Rich he assured me this was a good sign, but I think he just wanted to give me confidence going into the race. Race morning came quickly with a 3:45am alarm to allow plenty of time for breakfast (rice cakes with pb, banana, and honey along with a bottle of Infinit custom) to settle. Sitting in the hotel room waiting to leave I was getting a bit antsy so we left for Deerhurst a bit earlier than planned, but I find setting up transition calms the mind and removes any nerves I might have.

Swim - 4th out of the water (26:37)
This was one of the first times I didn't scout every name on the start list, but I knew there were a few I recognized as strong swimmer especially fellow Nineteen Wetsuits team member Antoine and Brazillian Igor. I tried getting onto their feet but before I knew it the gap had opened. I thought only 2 or 3 had gotten away so this left me leading the chase pack. Going around the first turn buoy I did a quick backstroke turn to see where the field was behind me and make the decision on if I should keep pulling the pack or save a little energy in the last 2/3rd of the swim. I noticed there was a little bit of a gap so I just kept pushing myself trying to limit losses to the group ahead. I came out of the water 4th about 3 min behind the leaders and about 10s ahead of a small group just behind me. The first climb from the water to T1 is probably one of the hardest, but I told myself to relax and not spike the heart rate to much. The race wasn't going to be won or lost on that climb. After slipping out of my Nineteen Rogue I was off on the bike.

Bike - 7th into t2 (2:30:05)
Onto the bike a trio of myself, Jordan Monnink, and Nicholas Chase soon got to work chasing down the guys ahead. The improvement of my bike fitness has allowed me to stay with the guys I typical come out of the water with, but I don't have the power to make a move and get away. I spent most of the day at sitting 2nd or 3rd wheel stressing about staying the legal distance as we had an official motorcycle beside us quite a bit of the ride, and with the saw tooth profile the gap was constantly growing and shrinking. I was trying to keep the power as steady as possible on that course knowing what happened last year, but every uphill there would be a surge. I would fall back a little bit then fight my way back on during the descent. I had to take a couple risks early on a couple descents where I got dropped on the climb before. In the last 15k it seemed like the surges the other guys were putting out got even bigger, and I made the decision at that point just to let them go and cruise in knowing that any gap made in the last 15k of the bike could be made up on the run. Most 70.3 the bike would be around 2:15, and I can use just my two custom bottles of infinit nutrition and a gel, but with the extra 15 minutes on the bike I added an extra gel and grabbed one bottle of water from the 2nd aid station.

Run - 2nd! (1:16:34)
Coming off the bike it was a quick transition and onto the run. I was in 7th starting the run and only handful of seconds behind 5th and 6th. I was telling myself one thing and it turned into the theme of the run, "Be Patient!" As I mentioned earlier the thought of last year was in my head, and I did not want to blow up in the 2nd half like I did last year. I took it particularly easy on the first couple of steep downhills before you get onto the highway. Just as we dropped down into the neighbourhood (~2km) I moved into 5th, and at the time I thought that was as far up as I would go. As anyone who has done the course knows, this course can crumble you. People out watching told me I was looking the best out of anyone except Lionel, and I thought I could make out someone way down the highway. By the first turn around I had just caught Igor, Kyle was about 3 min up, and Ian about 90s. This was the first time I thought I had a chance to run my way into 2nd, but it was also the first time I felt a little twinge in my quad. From that point on I started grabbing more gatorade from the aid stations instead of just pepsi and water. I caught Ian just before the 2nd turn around and Kyle not long after that. Once I moved into 2nd I started to get excited, but still told myself there was a long way to go. Anything could happen in that last 7k. It wasn't until the last kilometre I knew I was safe and I embraced the moment. I knew I was capable of a run of this calibre I just needed things to come together. 2 years ago at Challenge Florida I ran 1:17:xx, but last year every race something happened before the race (crashes or illness) or during the race (over biking and cramping). I think the improved bike fitness has allowed me to run closer to my potential this year. Each race this season I have run a bit better. I am looking to forward to following up this result with many more this season. Finish 2nd to Lionel made this feel like just another local race.

I was talking to someone the day before the race and they asked me what it was like to race Lionel, but having raced him for probably the last 5 years in tri and were probably at some of the same high school track and cross country meets. When he is in the field it is almost a calming sense of any race being like a local race.

Killing time pre race with my number 1 fan

Toughest climb in the race is going from the water to transition. My Nineteen isn't only good for swimming

Coming into T2

Start of the run

Finish chute

I've been finishing 2nd to Lionel for many year. 



Friday, July 3, 2015

Mine Over Matter - sprint finish number 2

Figured I should write a quick race recap from Mine Over Matter before Muskoka gets here and I'm two races behind.

Mine Over Matter is one of my favourite races I do, and I have done it the last 3 years. I find the mountain biking to be great cross training the compliments road tri and especially road tri at the professional level very well. One thing with mountain biking (or maybe I'm doing it wrong) is that is seems like things are either full gas or backing off for a technical section or corner.

After Welland took an easier week to recover from racing back to back weekends, but Rich wanted to get in one more solid week of training before Muskoka as it the big A race for the first part of the season. So the training load going into Mine Over Matter was a bit higher than typical races. I managed to get out to Milton a few times before the race to pre-ride the course. The first time had some race efforts chasing Rich Pady and Sean Bechtel, but there were a couple sections I wanted to ride again. I went back up on the Wednesday before and did an easier ride to really focus on some of the technical parts and try a couple of different lines through them. Pre riding the course multiple times for an off-road race is essential. If you are going in blind all I will say is good luck. Each year things get a little more technical, but each year I have enjoyed the race more. Riding cleanly through a new section is a great feeling.

The other thing I love about off-road racing is that things seem much more laid back. You don't have that nervous tension throughout the transition area, and it leads to a very low stress race.

Going into the race Karsten Madsen and Sean were the pre-race favourites, but I wanted to make things  a bit more competitive than past years.

3rd out of the water. Fast in the Nineteen Rogue and Vorgee goggles.

Heather Pady on her way out on the bike
Karsten hammering out the bike on the way to victory

Rich coming into transition

Heather cruising to her 3rd national championship

Aero is everything even on the bike. New Smith Overtake helmet

Rich trying to close the gap on me

Swim - 3rd out of the water
The plan was just to get on to the feet of either Sean or Karsten and stay there for as long as possible. After a bit of confusion at the start, due to someone ringing a cowbell and some people thinking that was the horn to start, I was a bit slow to get going. The first ~400m to the turn buoy I felt like I was swimming strong, but I felt like I was all over the place with no rhythm. Once we made the turn I lost the feet and swam solo the rest of the 1000m.

T1 - 3rd onto the bike
Usually my transitions are super smooth, but I just haven't figured out the best way to do it on the MTB. My shoes have boa dials and no heel loop so I tried doing a flying mount and putting them on at the beginning of the bike. I couldn't get my foot in and eventually gave up stopping, pulling my shoes off with my hands, and putting them on on the side of the road.

Bike - 7th off the bike????
I think this was the cleanest year on the bike I have had. In the past I would get fooled by an obstacle and have to unclip but I rode everything clean so that was a big positive. It took Rich the first lap to catch me and then we exchanged leads a few times before he attacked me climbing the ski hill. I think I rode well overall but took it a bit slower on a couple parts as finishing in one piece the weekend before Muskoka was the number one priority of the race.

T2 - 7th out
All smooth on the t2 front

Run - 3rd across the line
When I was coming out of transition I thought I was in 4th and could just see Rich leaving transition as I came in so I had my first target to chase down. However, just out of transition I passed an unknown runner and then about 100 meters later RTC coach, Craig Taylor, told me I was in 7th and it took me off guard for a second (turns out a few people made wrong turns on the bike). Hearing the news didn't change much of the race as I was in chase mode anyway. I passed Rich at about 4k when we entered the only real technical section on the run course. About 3 steps after making the pass I rolled my ankle on a root and went crashing to the ground. I really expected if I was going to hurt myself it was going to be on the bike, but here I laid on the ground  with my ankle screaming and a few scrapes. The adrenaline kicked in, and I popped up quickly and started running again. It was short lived as I felt like I couldn't put any weight on that foot. I started walking/hobbling a bit trying to fight back thoughts that I messed things up for Muskoka. When things go poorly time slows down, and it felt like I walked hobbled for 5 minutes but it was probably more like 90 seconds before I started to try and run again. I took thing really easy especially on the descents because I wasn't sure if I could handle it, but as I kept running things started to feel better. I could feel my legs slowly picking it up and when I was able to see another guy that passed me when I was hobbling the switch in my brain flipped and the chase was back on.

The finish 
One of the best/worst parts about the Mine Over Matter course is that you basically come back to transition just to run about another ~1800m around the quarry.  I could just see Rich up ahead, and I thought there was a small chance I could catch him. 3 years ago when I first did this race I was running neck and neck for 3rd when I got dropped in this last section so I wasn't going to loose here again. With about 400m to go I caught Rich and was in for my second sprint finish of the season. I thought I had passed him with enough authority he wouldn't come with me but as we approached the finish line everyone was getting really noisy. I didn't even have to look over my shoulder to know Rich was coming fast. I found another gear and was able to hold off coach for a small 0.5s margin of victory.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Welland Half

At the beginning of the season Rich and I had picked out Welland as one of the local races to focus on this season. I had 3 goals going into this weekend 1 go after Cody's record, 2 if I fell short of that I really wanted to go sub 4, and the last one was to get the win. Especially after coming second last weekend I REALLY wanted a win. However, things got flipped on their head about mid-week.

Wednesday morning Ang woke up with some pain in her stomach, but we didn't think about it to much. The pain intensified all day and that night around 12:30 we decide to go to the ER. We left the ER around 5:30 in the morning with orders to return at 8 for an ultrasound because they thought it might have been gallstones. The ultrasound didn't show anything so they shot her up with some drugs and sent her home. The pain wasn't gone for long and before you know it we were back at the ER to figure out what was going on once and for all. A CT scan revealed that her appendix was inflamed and before we knew it she was in surgery. All of that was a whirlwind of 48 hours of going back and forth to the hospital. Not the ideal taper before a race, but sometimes life comes first.

Saturday was the first time I was able to workout so I got in a quick bike and run with a couple of race pace intervals. I was pretty close to throwing in the towel and skipping the race. My bike felt like i was pedalling through slop, and my calves started getting tight running just 60s at race pace, but after much debate and Ang pushing me I decided to suck it up and race.

The Race
Driving to the race I was texting with Rich, and we kind of decided to scrap goals 1 and 2 and just focussing on getting the win. If I just focussed on that the times would come if they were meant to. My dad and Ang's mom got a bunch of pictures so I'm just going to use those to describe the rest of the day.
Swim start - there were only 6 people in the elite age group/pro wave and we started a minute ahead of the 39 and unders

It was pretty overcast and chance of rain so I went with clear Vorgee Missiles to compliment my Nineteen Rogue

I came out of the water 3rd. After trying to make a couple moves and shake Andrew I decided I should just conserve some energy and moved to Andrew's feet. Some guys from the wave behind us caught us at about 1500m and we moved onto their feet for a fast last 500m.

The ride was pretty uneventful. I pulled away for about 60k, but Andrew reeled me back in around 65-70k. I sat in for about 10k before making my final push for the finish. Once again with the cloudy skies I swapped out the lenses on my Smith PivLocks for clear lenses just in case it started to rain again.

Heading out on the run. 1st 10k were pretty solid before it started to fall apart. I've been getting a tingling left foot in the last 2 halves so I think I will try to loosen my shoes a bit next time. Hopefully that will be one less thing on my brain.

I kept checking my watch as I knew the 4hr mark was close. I could hear Steve Fleck counting down, and I tried to pick it up for one last kick. We thought I broke 4, but later found out the clock started with the age group wave 1 minute behind me. I just missed sub 4 going 4:00:40.

Breaking the tape

Celebrating what we thought was a sub4 performance 

The cheering squad. Mom, Dad, and Ang

Once again Multisport Canada put on an excellent race, and it is always fun racing with so many friends. There are always things you want to do better, and I think I have the ability to go sub 4. My swim was 90s slower than last year, my bike power was a bit lower than Knoxville, and I think I lost some mental focus on the run when it seemed the win was locked up. My next chance to really break the 4 hour barrier will be at Barrelman, but before that I will be racing Muskoka.

Thanks for reading. I will try to update things a bit more tomorrow with power numbers etc, but I wanted to get something posted before calling it a night.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Woodstock Race Report

This morning the Ontario triathlon season kicked off with the Woodstock Tri. Woodstock will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the first "real" triathlon I competed in way back in 2010. Luckily my last name is mis-spelled so my result will always be a secret . . . Over the last 5 years I have steadily improved with a big time improvement when the race was shortened from the Ontario distance to the tradition sprint distance. I have won this race twice as well and was going for the threepeat this weekend. If you want the short race report I ended up 2nd after winning a sprint finish between Andrew Bolton and Mikael Staer Nathan while Jack Laundry was up the road. Full results are here. Here are some pictures from the race, but if you want to read more about the sprint finish scroll beyond the pics.

Entering T2 thankfully no crashes this year. Thanks Ryan Power for the photo.

Winding up the kick. Another photo by Ryan Power

My bro captured this one turning the corner into the finish shoot

@multisportcan posted the picture of the pro podium

Now the long version of the blog . . .

Ang and I arrived as usual with lots of time before the race. I love getting to sleep in my own bed the night before the race and with only a short 40 minute drive to the race I slept in a bit 5:15. However, it was like a family reunion at the race. Being the first race of the season I found I spent most of the morning catching up with friends I had not seen in probably 8 months. Racing locally seems much more laid back. About 50 minutes before the gun was to go off I went out for a short warm up run with 2 athletes I have been coaching, Andrew Flanagan and Ben Snider-McGrath. Next, I slid into my new Nineteen Rogue and headed down to the water for a nice swim warm up.

Swim - 2nd 10:12
Every year at this race Ang and I start on the far right side and all the other guys start on the far left. I'm not sure if I am picking the wrong spot or they are. After about 5 strokes I had clear water all around me, and so I kept the head down and kept pushing for about 200m. I generally use 200m as the point where I look around (thanks to my Vorgee goggles I feel like I can see everything) and get my first idea of how the race is unfolding. Today, one swimmer who started on the other side had already opened a gap, and I was swimming even with the next group. I thought the swimmer up ahead might have been Jack because I heard he was swimming well this winter, and he swam further than me at the indoor tri this winter. I didn't want him to get to much of a gap as I knew he was a serious threat on the bike. Usually I would be one to sit in the draft and try to save some energy for the bike, but I decided I would take charge and try to chase. There was no pulling back the lead swimmer, and I exited the water in 2nd. As I entered transition I was glad to see the lead swimmer wasn't Jack and that they only had about 30s on me.

T1 - 37s the race is on

Bike - 30:53 3rd into T2
The Woodstock bike course starts with a nice climb right out of the park. This is where you get to see just how hard you swam and how your legs are feeling. Mikael was right on my wheel up the hill with Bolton and Jack just behind him. Once at they went by me one at a time, and I told myself I had to go big here or kiss the race good by so I just pushed the pedals as hard as my legs would go. I was just holding onto the back of the group of Andrew and Mikael but Jack was already pulling away up the road. After the first turn my legs were starting to come around so I surge past Mikael and would stay in 3rd for pretty much the rest of the ride. Coming down the hill into t2 I eased off a bit more than usual, but after crashing there 2 years ago I didn't want to do that again.

T2 - 33s always seems a lot longer than that

Run - 16:34 2nd (fastest run)
Leaving transition Andrew had a bit of a lead and Mikael was right with me. Mikael and I were in the situation a few times last year at both Syracuse 70.3 and Toronto Island, but a new year means new fitness and you never no what the other guys really did over the winter. On the first section of gravel road Mikael pulled just in front of me, and then I reposed again on the bridge. We were slowly pulling Andrew in, and I could just see Jack off in the distance. I knew to pull back both I would need to have the run of my life and hope they both imploded terribly. The next kilometre on the crushed gravel from the dam to the road not much changed. I finally pulled up beside Andrew just before the turnaround, but Jack I guessed Jack had about a minute on us and the gap wasn't coming down fast enough. With Mikael still right on me, and Andrew running stronger than in the past this is where the race started to get tactical. We had already swam (7s separated us in the swim) and biked (about 10s separated us) together so no one was going to let the other get away on the run. This is where having raced the course so many times came into my favour I think. I tried putting in a small surge after the turnaround, but it didn't do much. When we got back on the crushed stone I eased up a bit and Mikael went to the front. I knew if someone was going to try to make an early attack it would be on the small but steep climb up to the dam. I was prepared to cover the move, but it never came. The part was the dam; the dam always seems to have a headwind as you run across it. I was just biding my time and trying to have as much patience as possible sitting at the back of the pack. I was feeling relaxed, but it was hard to tell how the other guys were feeling. You could almost feel the tension as we approached the 1km to go sign. Andrew was the first to go basically as soon as we hit the 4km mark, and I went with him just sitting on his hip. I wanted to counter attack this move, but I told myself it was to early. I was still feeling good, but I wasn't sure about a 1k kick. Andrew's surge let up about 150m later, but it was short lived. He quickly attacked a second time with about 700m to go. With about 500m to go I said now is the time! I counter attacked. I was pumping my arms as hard as I could and just put the pedal to the floor. It's probably been about 10 years since high school track where I had my last heads up kick (I got out leaned in a tri a few years ago but I was kicking from behind and rand out of room), and during high school track I had my fair share of wins and loses in these kicks. One thing when your kicking is there is no 2nd or 3rd chance. When you commit you have to go all the way, either you make it to the finish or you tie up before and risk not making it. All I thought about was go go go. When it started to hurt I told myself go some more. Do not look back just keep running! Coming into the final turn I made a quick shoulder check just to make sure I could take the tangent, and it wan't until here I knew I wrapped up 2nd. I think this is probably one of the funnest and most exciting races I have had in my tri career. There is nothing better than going head to head to head with 2 other guys for about an hour with never more than 10s between you.

After the first race of the series it looks like this summer is going to be a great one in the MultiSport Canada Series. I can't thank John enough for giving us the opportunity to race in an elite series for prize money. It has elevated the weekend to weekend racing so much in the last 3 years. Last year we had Lionel and Cody put on a clinic, but Jack was only 3s off lionel's time from last year, and I think today was a tougher day with some chop on the water and wind on the bike.

I'm looking forward to the rematch with Andrew next weekend over 4 times the distance at the MSC Rose City Half in Welland, and hopefully there will be a few more awesome match ups over the summer.

I'd like to thank Nineteen Wetsuits for the brand new Rogue wetsuit, it felt fast on the swim today. Vorgee goggles make open water swimming much easier when you can see where you are going. Smith Optics for keeping the sun out of my eyes before during and after the race as well as helping with my style. Rich from Healthy Results for whipping me into shape this year, I'm looking forward to the future. Lastly, my family, I had the whole gang out to watch today mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, my brother, and of course Berlin, who cheers the loudest.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Challenge Knoxville Race Report

My season kicked off last weekend in Knoxville, Tennessee at the Challenge Knoxville Half Distance race, but before I get started there I will give a quick background of things that have been going on in the last few months.

The first thing and the most exciting is that Ang bought a house, and I moved in with her. This happened the end of April right after we got got back from training in Vegas for a week. Lets just say that April was a bit of a hectic month as I had to be out of my apartment in London before leaving for Vegas, but we didn't get the house until we got back. This meant doing essentially doing 2 moves in 3 weeks. Training during that time was hit and miss but I will say it gave me a bit of a taper going into the race. The other couple of changes are that I have a few new sponsors that I will be working with this year. They are Nineteen Wetsuits and Ciclowerks bike shop in Waterloo.

Now to the race!

I have raced in Knoxville 3 times before this, but they had all been the olympic distance put on by Rev3. With the new name came a new distance for the pros to race, but it was the same excellent race experience. In true Knoxville fashion or maybe it is only when I race there the rain started coming down race morning. Setting up transition it was just a light drizzle, but during the swim the rain picked up significantly.

Full results can be found here.

Swim - 28:11 ~12th out of t1
2 years ago when I raced in Knoxville the water was, a take your breath away, 50 degrees, but this year was like jumping into a warm bathtub with a balmy temp of about 73. This meant the pros would be swimming sans wetsuit. Unfortunately, because of the history of Knoxville I didn't think I would need a swim skin. I will be contacting Nineteen asap to see if I can get a swim skin before my next half just in case. I'm not sure if it was in my head but as soon as I jumped in it felt like a had a bit of a parachute on my torso. One of the downsides to being a 125lbs is that it is hard to find skin tight tri suits. Oh well nothing I could do about it and it was time to focus on the swim. It took what seemed like forever for the gun to go off as we all waited doing the usual tread, scull, creep forward that occurs on the start line. The gun finally went off, and we were gone for 4 hrs of racing. I was trying to find AJ Baucco's feet as he has been swimming really well this year, but it turned out his goggles and contacts got knocked off so he was at the back fixing those before swimming through a lot of us. So I settled onto some other feet and let them pull me to the turn around. I feel bad for however's feet they were because I have a really bad habit of swimming to close and touching feet every few strokes and I'm sure they wanted to kick me in the head. I felt comfortable during the swim, but I had a feeling it was not a fast one. I have to thank Vorgee because even with the cloudy skies and rain I always knew where I was since my goggles were so clear. I exited the water with a group of guys who I was out swimming by about a minute last year. I was a little worried my race was essentially over here as they would out bike me by about 8 minutes last year, but I kept it cool knowing Rich and I have worked hard on my bike all winter.

Bike - 2:23:55 11th out of t2 
Strava file -

During the swim the rain really picked up, and I knew this would play a factor while descending some twisty mountain roads. I'm pretty confident in my bike handling so I knew I would maybe have to take a couple risks out there. Turned out the lead group went the wrong way at the first turn so we all came together about 3k into the ride. I'm not sure who all made the group, but I'm going to think it was about 10 guys with another 4-6 close behind. Rich and I had a race plan of trying to have a normalized power of ~220w by the end of the ride and try to keep the spikes under 260 to be sure not to burn to many matches. This quickly went out the window when I found myself in the group. I was determined to stay with them for as long as possible. Every race I enter I go in with the mind set that I will do whatever I can to win the race so I was going to ride until I blew up as long as it kept me in striking distance, and if I didn't blow then perfect. At about 4k there is a downhill, and at the bottom there is a set of railroad tracks followed by a left hand turn about 30m after them. Going over the tracks my water bottle popped out from between my bars, spun 180 degrees, and I managed to snatch it out of the air and put it back in my cage without slowing down to much. Lady luck was on my side here, but she would make me pay later. I guess playing with those finger skateboards as a kid payed off, and I might be adding that to some of the athlete's I coach training plans. I believe in the first 10k my normalized power was about 230w, and I had a max power of 360w, just a little above . . . At about 10k the first big climb of the day starts. I was still sitting in the lead group (4 guys were still up the road), and I told myself if I could make it to the top of the climb with the group I would be good for a bit as it was a long descent afterwards where it would be hard for the group to separate. Unfortunately, lady luck made me pay for the water bottle save. Somehow a link on my chain got kinked and caused the chain to fall off when I switched to the small ring. I'm not sure if this was because of water and grit or what happened, but all I could think of was FUCK!!! I tried to finesse it back on but since it kinked instead of just falling off that wasn't happening so I quickly unclipped pulled the chain back on, and tried to get going again on the hill. By this time the lead group was long gone, and I didn't think putting in a huge surge at this point to try to get back on was going to be a good idea. The second pack (most of the guys I swam with) caught me pretty quickly, and I was hoping we could get back to that lead group. Last year a lot of these guys would just ride away from me so for the first half of the ride I played it safe usually sitting 3rd or 4th wheel while Ryan Bates and Mike Hermanson did a lot of the work on the front. *I have mixed feeling about the stagger rule that USAT races use, but if it allows me to get a bit of extra draft I'm going to use it. We had a moto on us most of the way so everyone rode within the rules, but it definitely is an advantage to have a group of 4 or more guys*. At about 30k I really had to pee so on one of the descents I sat up assuming the guys would pass me, and I could drop to the back and pee. 2 guys went off the front when I sat up, but no one else went around me. I didn't want to pee in the middle of the back but I was getting uncomfortable and it had to be done. Thankfully it was raining heavy at that point and don't worry I did wash my bike after. When I noticed though that no one went around me I assumed people were being hesitant on the downhills. Having raced the olympic here (part of the courses overlap) I knew there was a technical descent with about 10k to go, but the turns were actually wide enough you could carry pretty good speed. When we reached the climb I put in a little attack to get to the top 2nd in my group and then hammered the descent trying to get a bit of a gap. This set me up to be able to ride a bit more conservatively for the last 10k to set up my legs for the run.

Run - 1:20:08 Finish 11th
After a quick transition I was first onto the run from my group. I started out quick averaging about 3:30/km for the first couple of kms before settling into pace. Finishing off last seasons with 3 rough races, and especially my epic blow up in Muskoka where weighing on my mind a bit so I made sure to feel relaxed and controlled in the first 5k. I knew the middle ~10k of the Knoxville course were the most difficult so I told myself I would hold off on picking things up until the 2nd half of the race. I just hoped some other guys from the front group would go out to hard and blow up. I was about 3:35/km through the first 5k, but then the climbing started. The next 10k was around 3:45 pace as we ran the hills of Knoxville. I managed to catch one guy just after the turn around, but no one else was coming back. The last 5km was starting to get really tough, but I knew I was either barely in the top 10 or just outside so I didn't want anyone to catch me. We joined back up with the olympic course, and as I passed people doing the Olympic I would tell them "good job we are almost there." I think I did this more to try to convince myself, but maybe some of them were feeling the same way I was and it helped them get to the finish.

All in all this first race excites me for things to come this season. I'm now swimming with the Waterloo University varsity so hopefully my swim comes back, and I think I will keep improving on the bike and run.

Thank you for making your way through this entire race report, I know they can be lengthy. Thanks to all my sponsors, and a special thanks to my parents. Also thanks to my brother and his girlfriend for coming down and watching the race in the rain. It is their fault there aren't any pictures though because they were to hungover to grab the camera.

Next up will be Woodstock and Welland in preparation for Muskoka 70.3.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

2015 is here

Well 2015 is here so I have no more excuses not to update my blog a bit.

2014 did not end the way I wanted it to so after about a month of doing absolutely nothing it was time to start training again. Back in November I started working with Rich Pady of Healthy Results, the real reason for this is that I look great in orange, and their team kits are orange. No, in all seriousness Rich is extremely knowledgeable, has been in the sport longer than I have been alive and after spending time with him in Vegas and at his house in Orangeville last summer I felt like I would be able to work well under him.

In the past my weakness has always been my swim, and last season (thanks to Ken, Paul, Cliff and the Mustang Swim Team) my swimming was no longer my number one limiter. I wasn't coming out of the water in the lead at major races but being only a couple seconds of the main chase pack and leading out of the water at local races was right where I hoped to be. That means this winter I really get to focus on my bike where I was losing huge amounts of time. My skin has really thanked me however the stock of cocoa butter lotion has dropped significantly. At only the end of January I am already feeling more confident with my cycling. The last time we tested was back in December, so I am anxious to see if the numbers from a retest will confirm how I am feeling during interval sessions.

As for swimming I had a bit of a dip in November and December where I wasn't feeling comfortable in the water. I was only swimming 3x a week for about 3-4k which was a big drop from the prior year where I was doing 5 swims of 6-7k. We have also been trying to change my stroke by increasing the strength and efficiency in my pull, and limiting my kick. In the past I had always had a strong 6 beat kick and after trying to swim hard to hang on the back it would take a while to get going on the bike. Raleigh last year was a perfect example of this where I think I avg'd 10 or 15w higher in the 2nd half of the bike. The goal now is to come out of the water in the same time or faster but feeling more relaxed.

Running is running. Being that it is my background and traditionally my strength I never get to really put in a run focus. November and December was mostly spent getting some miles back in my legs with some strides or a  couple short (30-45s) intervals thrown in the run. I ran a 5k on the track Dec 23 and went 16:40. I wasn't to happy with this time, but I knew the season was still a long ways away. In January we added a couple "longer" interval runs in (aka a whopping 6x1min) and some tempo off the bike. This week I retested the 5k this week (this time on an indoor track so in my opinion a little faster) and went 16:04. That is pretty close to my official pb as I have an * next to my time from du worlds.

2015 will once again focus on the half distance. I am hoping to go to a couple of the challenge races, but with Muskoka and St. Andrews being the same weekend I think I will stick close to home and save some travel money since a pay check is never guaranteed when racing. I am going to kick things off this year at the Awake Chocolate Indoor Tri at McMaster University on Feb. 28th then a couple local running races before the season starts most likely in May in Knoxville. I am going to try and race a bit less than last year, especially less long races in back to back or back to back to back time frames. I think having a lot of long races at the beginning of my season bit me in the butt at the end.

The last big change for 2015 is that I am officially an NCCP certified coach. I am now working for Healthy Results. If you are looking for a coach to help you reach your goals feel free to contact me or fill out our questionnaire Here. Also, head over to our Facebook page (HR FACEBOOK) and give us a like. Any information about training camps and mega days gets posted to Facebook, as well as, interesting training articles we come across and tips to make you a better athlete.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Winter Running Tips

I wrote this up for the group I coach at Western University, but thought I would share it here as well.

Here are a couple quick tips for running outside during the winter.

Clothing – layers are your best option because temperatures can change quite a bit throughout a run especially on a windy day. Avoid cotton as this will hold moisture and make the wind chill even worse. Most of our tri club runs will be when it is dark so wear something that can be seen such as clothing with reflective or visi clolours. Don’t assume because it is a lighter colour such as white it will be easy to see you because that is not the case.

Shoes – I really like to use trail shoes in the winter. I like a trail shoe because it is still a rubber sole so if you end up running on a bare road or sidewalk for part of the run you don’t get the awkward feeling of running on something harder. For really bad days or if you don’t want a specific winter and trail shoe there are a couple other options. One is to buy something that goes around the outside of your shoe like a yaktrak that will give extra traction, or if you like a diy project short screws can be drilled into the bottom. Fellow Ontario pro Cody Beals has a good blog on how to do this at

Routes – this could be the most important decision on the run, where to run. I really enjoy running the trails. I find the snow gets packed down from other runners and walkers that you get good traction. The trees all around also block a lot of the wind making it significantly warmer. If trails aren’t your thing check the wind direction before you head out, and try to pick a route that is headwind first. The headwind will be the coldest spot so if you run it first you wont get that chill from freezing sweat if you do it after a tailwind.

This should get everyone started, and if you have any tips yourself feel free to share them or if you have any questions ask Andrew or I.