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Race Recap: Tour de Waterloo

June 23, 2013 3 comments

tdw_icon

I think, before a recap of this morning’s Tour de Waterloo bike ride race, a bit of my weekend’s back story is in order…

It all started Friday night, when one of my closest university buddies came to town after work for a night of drinking-like-our-university-days.  Amazing visit with a great friend.  Amazing tasty beers.  It’s been a long time since I’ve closed out the bar, leading to very little sleep that night.  Had a blast – wouldn’t trade it for the world… but shouldn’t have done that 36hrs before a race.  Strike #1

Saturday I drove out of town to the wedding of one of my high school friends.  Lovely wedding – such happy people, and great to see old friends I see too infrequently.  We danced, we drank, we survived the lack of air conditioning (though it was dicey for a while).  Such a fantastic night – so glad I was there.  Drinking and dancing the evening before a race is rarely a recipe for success.  Strike #2

After the wedding Saturday night I drove to Waterloo and crashed at my sister’s apartment.  I enjoyed getting to visit my sister – I see her too rarely.  But getting in late and sleeping in a home you’re not used to (again with no a/c – seriously, where did this weekend’s heat and humidity come from?!?) before a race is also not the best strategy!.  Strike #3.

Yep – I was in trouble…

The pre race festivities were simple enough.  Not a lot of vendors – not a lot of loud music or activities.  But there was coffee, and bagels.  And that made for a happy Dave!

That's about as excited as I get in the mornings...

That’s about as excited as I get in the mornings…

The starting area reminded me of a charity bike ride I did a few years ago – probably because it’s the only other time I’ve started an event on the bike.  I’m used to starting my races with a bunch of runners, or swimmers.  Bikes take up a surprising amount of space, and make for an interesting stop/start dynamic when the pack takes off.

Startline

They corralled us by distance – the 130km racers went first (crazy fools), then us 70km racers, and finally the 40km racers (where I really should have been).  It seemed to work well enough.  How else to do you reasonably release 550+ bicycles into the city streets at once?

The gun went off and out we were – and like most races, as the pack leaves together I get swept up in keeping with the pack instead of racing my own race.  I managed to stick with a group of riders for only the first 5km, by which point some of the early hills had left me very winded and gasping for air… and I had lost my pack.  It occurred to me that training in downtown Toronto leads to very little hill riding.  One can ride for dozens of miles on perfectly flat urban terrain.  The farm country NW of Waterloo is not like that – it has some BIG hills – and they thoroughly kicked my ass!

Hypothetically… if I were to get to move back home to Waterloo sometime in the foreseeable future, I would love to get to do more training on these hills… if only that could happen… <COUGH/> foreshadowing <COUGH/>

TdW70kRoute

This weekend was really hot and wet – heat and rain can lead to some wicked humidity here in SW Ontario.  I was anxious of the weather for this race.  I woke up to a pleasantly cool morning and was optimistic.  It didn’t last… It was hot – easily the hottest day of the year so far (in my unscientific opinion, since I didn’t bother to actually check the temperature this morning).  Here’s what it is right now though, at 6:30pm – I’m guessing it was a bit higher near mid day…

That's 86F, feels like 99F

That’s 86F, feels like 99F with the humidity

Sun: 1.  Dave’s skin: 0

Seriously!  Way too many sunburns already this summer!!!

Seriously! Way too many sunburns already this summer!!!

Heat + Humidity + A few drinks and late nights before the race = not a great performance.  Though I actually didn’t do too poorly: 73km in 2:50:28, for an average speed of 24.6kph.  Good enough for 20/24 in my age group.  I was hoping for <2:30:00, but didn’t factor in the hills that I wasn’t used to, or the shenanigans I would get up to in the preceding evenings.  It did give me a realistic baseline of my current fitness over a longer distance (and a less flat one at that), which is what I was ultimately looking for.  It’s given me confidence for the bike portion of my first Olympic distance triathlon at the end of this summer.

The Tour de Waterloo does pride itself on food.  And they didn’t disappoint!  A big plate of pulled pork AND butter chicken post race, hosted by McCabes Irish Pub, is easily the best race eats I’ve ever had (go figure – a blogger who didn’t take a picture of their plate of food!).

Next up next is the Cincinnati Triathlon in only 4 weeks.  Looking forward to getting back into a training routine!

Taking A Break

June 17, 2013 Leave a comment

takingabreak1image credit

I’ve stumbled upon an unintentional extended rest period.  Essentially, I’ve stopped training.  Cold turkey.  Full stop.  Oops.

(okay – I did jump on the indoor exercise bike at the gym for a 1hr session once last week… does that count?)

It occurred to me, while doing nothing this past week, that I’ve been jumping from race to race – finishing one, “recovering” for a day or two, and then looking ahead to the next – since about early December last year when I first signed up for Around The Bay.  That’s not to say I’ve been perfectly diligent in sticking to my training schedule – FAR from it – but when I do fall off the wagon, I get pretty hard on myself.

fall-off-the-wagon

There’s always a next race.  And there’s always more work I could be putting in.  Let’s face it – this isn’t sustainable!

I think I mentally hit a wall.  Coming off the Binbrook Triathlon last weekend, and looking ahead to Tour de Waterloo only 14 days away (now this coming weekend) I think the body threw up the white flag.

I’ve had a nice week off.  Sure, there were several times when I looked at my training plan and thought I should be out there running, or biking, or doing anything that remotely resembles productive training.  But those thoughts were few and far between, and I really didn’t dwell on them much (or give myself much grief when they passed).  The body needed a break.  The mind needed a break.  I’ve let them both have it.

TakeABreakBuddy

In fact, I’m viewing this two week period as a mini reset before I dive into the next phase of races.  I’ll probably get in 2-3 sessions this week – light sessions, just to shake out the legs a bit, but nothing too taxing.  I’m really enjoying the thought of a well defined, guilt free break.

Of course, this means I won’t be going all out at this weekend’s Tour de Waterloo.  I’m more than okay with that.  My goals in singing up for this event were to experience a bike-only event, and to do a longer ride in a race-like environment, so the bike leg of my Olympic distance triathlon later this summer seems less long.  It’s now time to add another goal for this event: have fun!

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I’m actually not sure what to expect of this event.  I don’t know if it’s a race, or a casual charity ride, or something in between?  It’s chip timed, I know that, but is marketed as being very friendly to recreational riders.  I really like that.  And not to sound like I won’t push hard and work for the best time I can over the 70k distance – because I will – but I’m looking forward to a lighter event.  A fun event.

After this weekend I’ll reassess the training plan, and gear back into a full training schedule.  The race season isn’t over, and I have goals to achieve, and work to do to reach them.  But it’s nice to back off for a bit.  I think it’ll help me move forward.

Do you ever need to take a break from your goals/hobbies?

Race Recap: Binbrook Triathlon

June 9, 2013 6 comments

BinbrookImage from the Multisport Canada Facebook Page

I’m really not sure how to feel about yesterday’s Binbrook Triathlon.  I’m still processing, but in a nutshell, here’s a few quick thoughts:

  • I actually did okay.  And okay isn’t bad.  And while I didn’t meet most of the time goals I’d set for myself, I still had PB times.  So I should be happy.
  • Even with PB times, I think I could have done better.  It felt, while I was racing, like I should have been doing better.  It felt like a fight.
  • I was really proud of myself for tackling longer distances than I had before.  I knew the distances were long – it felt long.  It was a mental grind to stay strong through the whole distance.  But I stayed strong, and I’m proud of that.

The morning started off well.  My alarm went off at 5:40am.  I had my bike ready and my gear bag packed the night before, so it was a quick morning and I was on the road by 6:00am.  I had no cheering squad with me this race – no paparazzi (and thus, no pictures for this post… sorry).  I was at the race site by 7:15 – an hour to go before the race gun.  Perfect.

I felt great pre-race.  Even though I slept little the night before (I always find it hard to shut my mind off to sleep the night before a big event), I felt rested and awake – well fueled, and ready to go.  Got through body marking quickly, and went to pick up my rented wetsuit.  Yes, I rented a wetsuit.

Turns out, the race was “wetsuit optional” in the end, but I was glad I had it.  The water was COLD – I don’t recall ever being in colder water before.  And while classified as wetsuit optional, there wasn’t a single racer without a wetsuit.  Did I mention it was cold?  It was cold.

I have never worn a wetsuit before.  I decided it was prudent to zip myself in and get into the water early for a light warm up swim.  Very glad I did.  The feel of neoprene around my shoulders and down to my ankles was really different.  But after a light warmup I decided this was something I could work with.

The Swim (750m OW)

Goal: 0:14:00.  Result: 0:16:32

The gun went off, and off we went.  From standing in waist high cold water – shivering – to full race pace in mere seconds.  And suddenly I couldn’t breathe.  Lesson #1: no more “light” swim warmups.  I hadn’t gone full effort in my wetsuit.  As soon as I did, and tried to breathe, I felt the constriction in my chest.  Normally I’m a bilateral breather.  Not in this race.  Quick rapid strokes.  Shallow frequent breaths.  By the first turn I started to feel comfortable enough to switch breathing sides.  By the second turn I got a little bilateral breathing going.  By then I had lost the feet of the swimmers in front of me and sighting became more of a requirement – and more of an issue.  Lesson #2: Pool swimming is nice, but I need to train more in Open Water.  I need to get more comfortable with a powerful bilateral breath stroke while still sighting.  I erred too much on the side of sighting, and couldn’t get into a strong rhythm.

Overall the swim was okay, given how cold the water was, and how unfamiliar the wetsuit was.  These are things I can get used to before my next race.

The Bike (30km)

Goal: 1:05:00.  Result: 1:02:53 🙂

As soon as I stood up at the edge of the lake to run out of the water I had a problem.  I was hit by a crazy wave of nausea.  Where the hell did that come from.  I unzipped my wetsuit and flipped it down to my waist as soon as I was on land.  Didn’t help.  I walked most of the distance from shore to transition.  Didn’t help.  I sat on the ground through most of T1.  Didn’t help.  I couldn’t shake it.  I got on my bike and peddled the first dozen strokes thinking to myself “I wonder how many triathlon races have someone throwing up in the bushes on the bike leg?  I wonder if that will be me?”  It wasn’t, but it was close.

After about the 1st km things started to settle down a bit – enough that I could peddle stronger and get into my larger cog ring, but not enough that I could ingest anything.  I tried to nibble at my Cliff Bar – that didn’t go well.  I tried to sip water – even that didn’t go well.  I couldn’t take anything in.  Lesson #3: Need to reassess my fueling strategy.  What I can eat and drink on a long bike ride might be different from what I can take in after a swim.  I actually had a strong bike ride… for the final 29km at least.  I made my goal time, which I was really happy with, but I didn’t take in any calories or fluids, which left me in real trouble on…

The Run (7.5km)

Goal: 0:50:00.  Result: 0:56:43

Oh geez… this wasn’t pretty.  I had nothing in the tank to start the run and it quickly took it’s toll.  I think I took a walk break almost every 500m – WAY too often.  I thought at first it was just jelly legs off the bike (Lesson #4: Need to do a lot more brick sessions!), but I couldn’t ever settle in.  I kept telling myself “You’re in a fight.  Time to fight harder than you ever have before”.  The last 2km were a little stronger than the rest.  I found a little something left at the end to push through the finish.  It’s always good to finish strong, but I really wish I could have run better.  Lesson #5: Keep running.  Run every other day.  Run longer.  Keep doing fartleks.  Keep doing bricks.  I can’t ever do enough run training.

Overall my race time was 2:20:36.8.  24/25 in my age group.  Slower than my goal, but only by about 6 minutes.  And given a few challenges I had to work through, I’m happy with the results.  But, at the same time, it’s a reminder of how much work I have to do to get to where I want to be.

Today I’m putting my feet up and recovering.  I ache like hell!  Particularly my arms – I’m surprised at how much my arms hurt this morning.  Lesson #6: Keep going to the gym.  Keep getting stronger.  And that’s what I’m going to do, starting tomorrow.  Tomorrow I hit the gym.  Tomorrow I get out to RunClub.  Tomorrow I get back to work – to getting stronger, and faster.  I can’t wait!

Next up on the race schedule is the Tour de Waterloo, a 70km bike race back in my home town that I’m really looking forward to.  And it’s only 14 days away.  Time to get to work!

~DO’G

 

Race Preview: Binbrook Triathlon

June 6, 2013 1 comment
Apparently, this is Binbrook...

Apparently, this is Binbrook…

It’s hard to believe, for as much as I ramble about Triathlon This and Triathlon That, that when I toe the line at Binbrook this weekend, it’ll be only my 2nd triathlon race*, and my first in about 21 months.

* I was supposed to race a triathlon last September, but weather turned it into a Duathlon on me.  Pfft.  Technicality.

Believe it or not, I’m actually a bit nervous.  And of all things, it’s the swim that’s making me nervous.

if-swim

image credit <– lots of cool illustrations.  check it out!

Seriously?!  Me!  The swim is my strength!  The swim is my niche!  While other triathletes come from running or cycling backgrounds, I come from a swimming background.  I’ve been swimming since I was a toddler!  I played waterpolo in highschool!  I’m a swimmer…

Well, it could be this…

That’s “… We will not know until race morning if this will be wetsuit mandatory”.

Mandatory

ITU Wetsuit Temp RulesPer the ITU Competition Rules, page 17

Gulp!!

I don’t own a wetsuit.  I’ve never worn a wetsuit.  Sure – there will be vendors there renting wetsuits (so they tell us)… I’m not so hot about the idea of renting a wetsuit I’ve never worn before, and swimming in one for the first time on race day.  Of trying to wiggle out of a wetsuit for the first time in T1 On Race Day.

Oh well, this may be one of those punches I just have to roll with.  More encouraging though was this…

That’s good racing weather.  I’ll take it!

Right… so… about the race…

750m OW Swim

I’m hesitant to set myself a goal for this now, knowing that it might be wetsuit mandatory, and that I might get my wetsuit initiation mid-race.

But prior to today’s swim temperature news… my one and only prior attempt at a 750m OW swim took 16:53.  I can do better.  In the pool, I have reliably been swimming 1:35/100m, which is an 11:52 pace.  I think anything sub 14:00 I would be happy with.

30km Bike

I’ve never done a 30km distance in a race before.  My last 20km distance took 45:46 (26.22kph pace).  But I’ve been riding much closer to a 29kph pace so far this year.  I think 1:05:00 is my goal time

7.5km Run

Again, I’ve never done a 7.5km distance in a race.  My last 10k race I ran in 1:02:41, or a 6:16/km pace.  But that was downhill, and didn’t have a bike or swim before it.  I don’t think I can hold that pace here.  My 5km time in each of previous triathlon and duathlon were each close to 0:35:00 (7:00/km pace).  I can do better than that for sure – I’m feeling the fittest I’ve been yet since I started this adventure.  I think my goal here is going to be 50 minutes (a 6:40/km pace).

Allowing 2:30 for T1 and 2:00 for T2, that’s a total race goal of 2:13:30.  That seems like a really random goal.  But I guess it’s better than no goal.  And it’s based on math – anything based on math is good, right?  Right!

Can you say 'excited'?!?

Can you say ‘excited’?!?

I think more than anything, I’m excited to get the Tri season started!  I’ve had a number of running races over the past 21 months (and one duathlon) – they’ve been fun, and have really helped my running and overall fitness.  But I’m not a runner.  I’m a triathlete!  I feel like I’m back.  It’s time to get another season started.  It’s time to raise the curtain.  It’s time to get this party started!

I love Race Day.  Do you love Race Day (or Opening Day?  or Game Day?  or Whatever “Day” is your thing)?

 

A Kickstart to Aero Bars

June 4, 2013 4 comments

aerobars

A few months ago I attended the Toronto Bike Show for a little pre-season shopping.  The biggest item on my shopping list was a set of clip-on aero bars for my bike.  I came home empty handed.

I had a conversation with one of the vendors at the show about clip-on aero bars (in general terms – we did not discuss a specific manufacturer or product).  He suggested I would be disappointing with my purchase.  He pointed out that there is a distinct difference in bike geometry between a road bike and a tri bike – the tri bike’s geometry is designed to handle better with the rider’s weight forward over the front wheel in aero bars.  A road bike’s geometry is not designed to have the rider’s weight over the front wheel.

Fair enough.  I understand this is a bit of a subjective argument, but it gave me pause enough not to spend money.

I’m still intrigued at the idea of riding in aero bars.  I’m nowhere near ready to invest in a tri bike.  Seems I’m at a bit of a cross road…

Until tonight, while trolling through twitter, I came across the post below:

I had to check this out.  And really, you should too!

A new start up company, Redshift Sports, has come up with a prototype solution to address the dilemma of road bike vs tri bike.  They’re building 2 products – a set of clip on aero bars that can be installed/removed crazy fast, without any tools (making it practical to add or remove your aero bars depending on the ride you’re looking for).  AND, an adjustable seat post that can move from a forward position (closely resembling tri bar geometry) to a rear position (that of road bike geometry).

I don’t think I’m doing it justice.  Watch the video above again…

 

kickstarter

 

So here’s the gears: The product isn’t in production yet.  Redshift Sports has it up on Kickstarter, trying to secure funds to start up their production operation.  They’re looking for backers who are willing to help fund their start up costs, in exchange for several rewards (which in this case is product once it’s produced).

I did a very quick Google search to see what I could come up with.  I found this review on bikeradar.com.  The product seems legit, and the idea seems pretty great to me.  I recognize that it’s not a full solution to the bike geometry issue, but it’s a really good start.  So I decided to jump on board as a backer (my wife tells me its an early birthday present… Happy Birthday to me, I guess).

If their project goes to schedule, I should get delivery of my new aero bars and seat post sometime in September 2013 – a little late for this year’s race schedule, but that’s okay.  I like the idea of supporting a small start up company.  I look forward to trying my new set up in a few months (and blogging about how it goes).

Do you use clip-on aero bars?  Do you like them?

Have you ever backed a project on Kickstarter?

The Home Stretch

June 2, 2013 Leave a comment

6 days until race day.  Into the Training Home Stretch.

Feeling strong.  Feeling inspired.  Feeling confident.  Feeling energetic.

Feeling Ready.

Let’s Do This!!!

trimotivation

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