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Race Recap: Niagara Try-a-Tri

July 28, 2014 Leave a comment

10430431_10154431489365319_8659819653427283812_nI have no idea why I’m making a peace sign… or why I’m so hunched over…

Yesterday I raced in the Niagara Try-a-Tri race, my first Try-a-tri distance triathlon.  It was a lot of fun – a great day (albeit stinkin’ hot), great friends, great venue.  Yep, I would do that again in a heartbeat.

I had a chance to race with two good buddies of mine – we go all the way back to high school, but live in different cities now, so the reunion was a nice incentive too.  Plus, they’ve now joined the ranks of triathlon finishers – which is amazing!  Here’s hoping to get them out to many more races going forward!  We also had a nice cheering section of family and friends.  What a great day!

How did my race go?

The Swim – 375m – 7:09

The water was about as warm as could be while still being “wetsuit encouraged”.  Compared to other swims I’ve done recently, it was like swimming in a bath.  The sun was shining, the water was calm, and relative to Sprint and Olympic distance swims, 375m wasn’t that far at all.  I positioned myself in the front row middle of the starting pack and went all out.  This was about as smooth sailing as it could have been.

The Bike – 10km – 21:43

The bike felt great.  It was pretty flat, uneventful, and I was able to tuck into the aero bars and giv’er.  On the return half, there was a strong headwind I wasn’t expecting, but nothing unmanageable.  It felt really good, but I’m not sure the time reflects that.  I was hoping for closer to 20 minutes.  Was I being lazy?  Was I not in the best gear?  I’m a bit perplexed here – although a perfectly respectable time for my current fitness level, I thought I could do a bit better.  Oh well – that’s what the off season is for

The Run – 2.5km – 18:14

God I suck at running.  Seriously!  I was hoping to run closer to 15 minutes, perhaps optimistically.  I’m not at all happy with this result (but I’m also really not surprised).  My legs felt good off the bike, but my HR was way out of control.  Which is the exact same thing I felt in my last race 2 weeks ago.  My fitness has fallen off a bit as the summer has gone on (and I haven’t kept up with my training), and possibly wasn’t where I wanted it to be to start with.  Let this be motivation for me this off season – next summer I want to run better off the bike!

Overall 50:31.9.  I was predicting I would finish between 45 and 50 minutes – so a bit slow, but not terribly.  Considering this was a last minute entry for a race to join up with some old friends, my time wasn’t so slow such as to take away from a great day.

The Recovery

The 1:00pm race start time has really made a mess of my recovery.  I’ve become very used to the morning race, afternoon nap routine.  The afternoon race, evening nap routine doesn’t work nearly as well (which leads to a shitty night’s sleep, and a very tired Dave the next day).  I’m a lot more tired today than I was expecting after a try-a-tri distance race, on which I blame this crappy, short, race recap post.  It’s going to be nap time as soon as this working day is done!

How was your weekend?  Any good races or training runs?

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Friday Stray Thoughts

July 25, 2014 2 comments

FridayImage by Glenn McCoy

Happy Friday everyone!  For those of you looking for a little light lunchtime internet distraction to tide you over until quitting time, here’s a few Stray Thoughts for your Friday Afternoon

– – – – –SubaruMy third – and likely final – triathlon of the season goes this weekend.  This time, my first ever Try-a-Tri distance race at the Subaru Grimsby/Niagara Race (they can’t seem to get their marketing lined up.  Is it Grimsby?  Is it Niagara?  Let’s pick one folks!)

Anyway… I’m looking forward to this one:

1) It’s a FLAT course – should be fast, and fun

2) It’s an all-out intensity effort, as opposed to an endurance effort (which is new to me)

3) It’ll be done in under an hour

4) I’m racing with a couple buddies from high school who are tackling their first tri.  Really excited to see them pull this off.  And for the celebratory beer after 🙂

What’s breaking my brain is the 1:15pm race start time.  I’ve not done an afternoon race before.  I’m not sure how to handle this.  I have a morning routine – when to wake up, what (and when) to eat.  What do I do now – do I sleep in?  Do I eat a big breakfast?  Do I eat lunch?  Do I go for a walk or a jog in the morning?  Do I drive down early, or hang around at home in the morning?  I’m being a little OCD here, but my routine is broken and I’m not sure what to do about it!

Anyone out there with any advice for an afternoon race start?

– – – – –

broken bike

I may have had a little crash last week (about 10 days ago), while bike commuting to work.  A bit scary at the time – fortunately it amounted to just scrapes and bruises in the long run.  All things heal.  My commuter bike, however, needed several hundred dollars worth of repair work.  Yikes!

(no, that’s not my bike above – that’s just a stock picture.  I’m not on the ball enough to have taken a pic of my own bike)

Thus, I haven’t done an ounce of biking since my last race 2 weeks ago (well, if you don’t count the ~3km from my house to the crash site that one morning… which I don’t).  The cuts and scrapes on my arms and legs have kept me out of the pool.  I did manage one training run this week – a quick slow treadmill 5k at the gym on Monday that felt TERRIBLE!  Seriously – it’s a treadmill; I know exactly what speed I’m running at, and how long I’ve run it for.  I KNOW my numbers used to be better than that.  Where has all my fitness gone this summer?!?  Apparently racing every other week, and not doing much of any training in between, does not constitute maintaining the fitness you built in the off-season.  Whoops.

– – – – –

weight-loss-scale

The nice thing about that one trip to the treadmill (and the gym in general) is that I got to step on the scale there.  I am losing fitness, for sure, but I’m also losing weight (proof, I’ll assume, that weight loss is much more driven by diet then by exercise).  My weight is at an all-time post-highschool low, and dropping.  Which is good.  Which is really good.

Except it coincides with lost fitness, and I don’t like that.  It probably suggests I’m losing more muscle mass than I should.  I don’t like that either.  Which isn’t to say that I’m not totally ecstatic about losing weight, and really happy that my eating habits (in general) are finally supporting this rather than hindering it.  But it also tells me I really need to get my ass back in the gym and do some strength work.  I find it very easy to remember to get out for a run, or a bike ride.  Well, relatively easy, at least.  Those are directly relate to my training goals (plus, going faster is fun)!  I need to remember to continue to hit the weights.  I think that’s going to be this off season’s #1 priority.

Yes – it’s mid July, and I’m talking off season already…

– – – – –

Have a great weekend everybody!  Good Luck to everyone racing or training this weekend!!!

Race Recap – Toronto Triathlon Festival

July 14, 2014 2 comments

TTF

I’m having a hard time writing this recap.  My thoughts are all over the place.  This race was many things – Intense, Exhilarating, and Wet.  Very wet.

I’m so luck to have a pair of very close cousins, who happen to have condos in the same building, right in downtown Toronto.  Amazing to be able to visit great people, and have crash space a 20 minute walk away from the start line.  Being so close meant I got to sleep in until 4:30 yesterday morning (I’m not kidding).  I was surprisingly awake at that hour.  My wife was not.  What a trooper she was getting up with me to come cheer me on (and take blog pics)!!

10551068_10152304424499482_6079203407313958182_n

Isn’t everyone out with their bike at 4:30am?

In transition before daybreak - the life of a triathlete

In transition before daybreak – the life of a triathlete

The forecast called for rain.  But it was dry when I woke up.  I was really happy – and celebrated way too soon.  The rain came.  Oh boy did it ever.  It rained rather heavily in the hour leading up to the race, while I was pacing around transition and waiting for the swim start.  The swim start was even delayed by about 10 minutes due to weather.

Rain!  The blue band across the top is my wife's umbrella.  She tried to stay dry.  It didn't work.  What a trooper!

Rain! The blue band across the top is my wife’s umbrella. She tried to stay dry. It didn’t work. What a trooper!

Once the race started, though, the weather was an afterthought.  This was my 8th triathlon, and the first time I wasn’t in the first swim wave.  It was kinda fun getting to watch the elite’s go off before me (and not have to start my swim with them).  8 minutes later it was my turn.

The Swim – 1,500m – 34:29

That's me, in the green cap and black wetsuit

That’s me, in the green cap and black wetsuit

The swim was a deep water start.  They had a floating pontoon perpendicular to the brake wall.  There was no warm up swim permitted (I’m not really sure why).  About 1 minute before our wave start, we all walked out and jumped into the water.  And swore.  A lot.  Holy shit that water was cold.  Really cold.  They announced the temperature as 17°C – they must have been lying.  I don’t believe ice baths are that cold.  It was really cold.  Pretty soon all the swearing subsided as we started to realize this wasn’t actually funny – it was really cold and uncomfortable.  And then the horn went off – no warm up, frozen muscles, and almost 100 men aged 25-35 tightly packed tightly against the starting pontoon.

They call the start of a triathlon swim ‘the washing machine’.  I’ve understood the term, but never truly experienced it.  Now I have.  It refers to the froth of water at the start of an open water swim, when a bunch of swimmers are tightly packed and competing for the same space.  Yep – that’s what happened.  I got kicked, and punched, and clawed (seriously triathletes: please clip your fingernails!!!).  Somewhere near the first buoy I remember having a thought – between the cold, and the collisions, if I was any less comfortable in the water than I am (and I consider myself a very confident swimmer), I might have been in trouble in that swim.  Sure enough, my wife would tell me later she was amazed at the number of swimmers who were pulled out of the water and DNF.  Even as late as the last buoy I took a heavy kick to my right shoulder and was worried I was actually hurt.  What a mess that swim was.

I’m not happy with a 34:29 swim – but it was a middle of the pack swim for my age group, and given the conditions, it could have been a lot worse.  The race goes on!

The Bike – 40km – 1:23:18

Heading out on the bike.  The road is a wet slippery mess!

Heading out on the bike. The road is a wet slippery mess!

For as bad as the swim was, the bike went great!  The bike course was amazing – riding along the expressways of downtown Toronto.  It was a generally uphill on the way out, and downhill on the way back, with a bit of a headwind on the return.  The biggest challenge was the wet roads, and the puddles of standing water that needed to be dodged.  But credit to the race organizers – they had volunteers out along the whole course, and had a volunteer or a marking pylon at every standing puddle.  They were all over it.  They did a great job!!

Not much to tell about the bike ride – I put my head down and rode hard.  I kept comparing it to my last Olympic distance race, only 3 weeks prior, where the bike ride went so poorly.  This time, my back and my glutes didn’t give out on me.  I was riding just as hard, if not harder through the final quarter of the ride as I did in the first quarter.  I wasn’t wearing a pace watch, but my gut told me this ride went well.  And I was right.  Nearly 12 minutes faster than the same distance 3 weeks ago, and 8 minutes faster than my Olympic distance bike split personal best.  Hot damn!!  My wife gave me my time as I was running back into transition – what a motivator that was!!!

The Run – 10km – 1:14:17

500m to go...

500m to go…

There’s not much to say here.  I’m a shitty runner.  I have been since I started, and I still am.  I find it amusing that my run time split of 1:14:17 is 16 seconds slower than my run split 3 weeks ago.  Apparently I’m a very consistently shitty runner 🙂

Unlike last time, there was no back pain to slow me down.  There was no pain at all.  My heart rate was out of control, right from the start though.  I took a lot of walk breaks trying to control my heart rate, but every time I started running again it skyrocketed.  I tried to settle into a run/walk routine to manage this.  I’m not sure how well it worked.  I stopped at each aid station – drank the Gatorade and dumped the water on my head.  By about half way through the run the sugar from the Gatorade was playing havoc with my GI system, so I switched to water only.  I’m not sure if it made a difference.  It wasn’t a glamorous run, but it was consistent, and wasn’t worse than my previous Olympic distance run splits.  I didn’t give back the time I earned on the bike, so I’m happy with that!

The Finish – 3:17:40.93

IMG_0532

My biggest fan!

God that felt good – a personal best by 6 minutes!  Yeah Buddy!!!  My wife and cousin were there to meet me at the finish line.  So awesome having a cheering squad!!  And around my neck: a finisher’s medal.  Believe it or not, this is my 8th triathlon, and that’s my first finisher’s medal.  I guess they’re not as common as in running races.  It means a lot to me to finally have a triathlon finisher’s medal.  Very excited about that!

By the end of the run my GI havoc was reaching near critical levels.  There were burgers and free beer in the finishing area, and I turned them both down (I know!  Weird, right?!)  I took 3 bites of a banana – that was all I could handle.  It was a couple hours before that settled down.

The race was designed with the finish line being about 800 meters away from the transition zone, so my cheering squad and I had to walk back to pick up my bike & gear after.  And wouldn’t you know – the skies opened up again.  It POURED!  Easily one of the top 10 heaviest rains I’ve ever been in.  Ever.  My wife and cousin had their umbrellas – not that it made any difference – but me, I just let the rain fall on me.  I could hardly see.  I felt bad for the racers still on course (the sprint distance race had just started).  It was pouring rain.  I collected my bag from the bag check area – it was sitting in an inch deep puddle.  I went back to get my bike and transition gear – which was also sitting in an inch deep puddle.  Oh well – lay it all out to dry in the basement when I get home.  I’m not planning on any training rides or runs for the next few days!

It’s now the day after.  I’m working from home today – it’s easier to get up out of my chair and pace, and stretch, when I’m not in the office.  My quads are still buzzing a bit, but I really feel the fatigue in my traps, my neck, and all down my back.  Even my arms have a subtle dull ache, and there’s a really good scratch on one arm from another swimmer.  Tylenol and I are good friends today.  And I’m eating EVERYTHING in the fridge!!

I ache, but I’m really happy.  I set my sights on this as my ‘A’ race, and I feel like it all came together.  Smashing 12 minutes off my bike split from last race felt amazing, and not giving anything up on the run as a result felt pretty good too.  I even survived the frigid washing machine!  God I love this sport!!!

With my ‘A’ race in the books, the rest of the summer is all about fun and relaxing.  In 2 weeks I’m racing in the Niagara Try-A-Tri race with a couple highschool buddies.  I’m really looking forward to that.  Otherwise the rest of the summer is about swimming, biking, and running when I want to.  I won’t start thinking about next race season for several months still – for now, I’m just going to enjoy this one!

– D

 

Friday Stray Thoughts

July 11, 2014 Leave a comment

FridayImage by Glenn McCoy

Happy Friday everyone!  For those of you looking for a little light lunchtime internet distraction to tide you over until quitting time, here’s a few Stray Thoughts for your Friday Afternoon

– – – – –

Never give up on your dreams

I love this pic!  I want it on a t-shirt!  I’ve seen this floating around Facebook lately – no idea who the owner is.  If anyone knows, please let me know so I can give them credit.  And ask if they have this on a t-shirt!

– – – – –

dodont

This weekend is race weekend.  Only 2 sleeps away.  I’ve decided, based on my own experience this week, I’d compile a list of tips of things not to do the week before your ‘A’ race:

  • Do not avoid any and all training whatsoever in the week leading up to your race.  Tapering is good.  Doing nothing is bad.  Keep the body moving!
  • Do not try to play in 3 softball games in a 4 day span the week leading up to your race.  This is not a substitute for race week training.  It’s just making you tired!
  • If you are going to play though, do not play in 3 games that each end at 11:00pm when you have to get up for work the next morning.  Maybe you could get away with that when you were in your 20’s – not any more!
  • Do not let your boss put you on 2 new projects the week before the race.  Okay – maybe I couldn’t control this one, but it didn’t help!
  • Do not let your diet completely fall apart.  Pre-race fueling matters.  Pizza, cookies, cake, cola, waffles, and more pizza DO NOT constitute proper pre-race nutrition (see again comment above about what you used to get away with in your 20’s)
  • Do not resort to after work power naps that leave you completely unable to sleep at night.  Especially when you’re a bad sleeper to begin with – better to push through and go to bed early than to trade a 60 minute nap for a night of insomnia!
  • Do not get too hard on yourself when life trumps your training plans.  You’re a Weekend Warrior, not a pro.  Training isn’t your job – it’s your hobby.  Roll with the punches and giver the best you can on race day!

 

– – – – –

 

TTF

The Toronto Triathlon Festival is finally here.  I’ve been looking forward to this race for over a year – ever since I learned about it last year, but couldn’t sign up because it conflicted with a race I had already signed up for in Cincinnati (which was a great road trip, BTW.  I highly encourage any budding triathlete to consider a road trip race as part of their season – what a great weekend).  This year I’ve made it the centerpiece of my race season.  And now it’s here!

I’m a bit anxious about it – labeling it as my ‘A’ race puts a little extra hype on the event.  I have mixed feelings about how my last Olympic Distance race went, which was only 3 weeks ago, and ‘real life’ has stomped all over my training plans between races.  Do I think I can race a Personal Best?  Yes – if only because a) the course is flatter, and less rolling than Guelph Lake was, and b) the run course is the exact same running path I used to train on when I lived in Toronto last summer, so I know it very well.  It’s flat, and fast, and familiar.  All good things on race day!

On the plus side, my wife is able to get the weekend off work, so I’ll have a cheering squad.  And I’ll be staying at my cousin’s the night before, so I’ll get a nice visit in as well.  Both good things.  I think it’s going to be a good weekend.  I’m mentally ready (even if physically a bit ill prepared).

The current weather forecast doesn’t look so great though for a Sunday morning race… oh well, what can you do.  Game on!

weather140711

– – – – –

Have a great weekend everybody!  Good Luck to everyone racing or training this weekend!!!  If you’re in the Toronto area Sunday morning, come brave the rain and cheer me on!!

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