Posts Tagged ‘Biking’

Moving and The Iron Pig

September 4, 2013 1 comment

Moving Boxes

I’ve been off the grid for nearly the past week as we moved from Toronto ON to Kitchener-Waterloo ON.  It feels like a home coming – my job is in KW, my wife and I met and went to school here.  My life is here.  But that doesn’t make moving any less of a beast of a job!

I haven’t had a lot of time for training in the past few days.  I suppose I could have prioritized it more, but that would have taken time away from packing and unpacking.  And I really just want to get the house settled.  Thank goodness for our MacGyver friends who were able to get our box springs (and our couch) up to the upper floors through the windows!

MovingBoxSpringWhile not getting out much for ladder swim sets or brick runs, I have been reunited with my Hybrid bicycle, which has been in storage (or disuse) for nearly 2 years.  My wife gets primary use of the car for her program, and we’re trying to avoid becoming a 2-car family, so I want to bike commute as much as I can.  And I dislike commuting on my road bike – they’re great for racing, but I worry it’ll be damaged or stolen when locked up, or that my route might end up off of well paved roads.  And cycling shoes are a pain when running errands.  So the Hybrid and I are becoming reacquainted.

What a pig it is!  Okay – context matters here: it’s a pig in comparison to my fast, light, fitted road bike – which I’ve gotten quite used to in the two years my Hybrid has been in storage.  And that’s not what this bike is designed to be – it’s designed to get you around town for a lot less money than a racing bike.  It’s actually really good for what it’s designed for – I’d recommend it for anyone looking for something a little nicer than a Walmart bike.  But my legs have become accustomed to my road bike – and comparatively, this thing is a slow, heavy pig.

In fact this morning, during my first 13.2km (per direction) bike commute to work, while struggling to hammer my heavy Hybrid up a hill, I decided it needs a name:  It’s now The Iron Pig.

I think I’m going to enjoy commuting on The Iron Pig.  It sure beats the 70+km commute I did from Hamilton, or the congestion of downtown Toronto.  And while I wouldn’t call it training in the purest definition – more like cardio cross training – it’s a bit of extra time on the bike every day.  And will continue to be time on the bike every day after the race season is over.  26km/day is nothing to sneeze at – especially when that’s on top of your daily training plans (or lack thereof).  Plus, there’s something really satisfying about riding a bike to work – I’ll take the morning air over a seat in a car any day.

Do you commute to work?  Could/Would you commute to work?  Why or Why not?


Race Recap: Toronto Island Sprint Triathlon

August 25, 2013 2 comments

On the ferry by sunrise. We triathletes are a crazy breed!

It’s a little odd writing two blog posts in a row that are Race Recaps… maybe it’s a sign that I’m not posting often enough (or, more likely, that I don’t have enough interesting to say these days to warrant posts).  Or maybe it’s a sign that I’m racing too often.  Either way, this morning – for the second consecutive Sunday morning – I got up at the shit crack of early and caught the ferry over to Toronto Island for another race.

… and a huge Thank You to my wife for getting up early and coming out to cheer me on.

I love my #triwife

I love my #triwife

Today I raced the Toronto Island Sprint Triathlon race – a race I signed up for as a training race.  Though, let’s be honest: this wasn’t a training race – it was a fun race, pure and simple.  I didn’t sign up for this because I had a specific training goal I wanted to hit.  I signed up for it because I could walk to the ferry docks (thus, effectively to the starting line) from my front door.  I signed up for it because I have come to love Toronto Island as a beautiful part of this city and it’s waterfront, and a great training site for me this summer.

I think mostly I signed up for it because I really love racing.  And regardless of what a proper training arc suggests about rest and peak periods – I wanted to race.  So I did.

You gotta really love this sport to be dressed in spandex neoprene before 8:00am

You gotta really love this sport to be dressed in spandex neoprene before 8:00am… or to post a picture of yourself like that on the internet

How was the race?  It had pros and cons…

Pro: My swim felt great.  The water was mid-low 60°s… really cold, although I swam in colder last weekend, so it wasn’t bad in comparison.  I remembered my wetsuit this time.  I felt strong through the swim, and by half way through I was reeling in other swimmers who had started out stronger than me.  I’ll file this one in the memory as what a good swim should feel like.

Con: My swim time.  18:00 exactly.  That’s pretty rough for a 750m swim, especially for how good it felt (I blame the long run up from shore that must have been at least 500m through sand, grass, and along a boardwalk).

Pro: My bike felt really great.  Toronto Island isn’t very long – the course was 2 loops of a 10k out-and-back that spanned the length of the island.  And it was flat as a road in the prairies.  No hills in the climb.  I rode 20k in 40:16 – easily a PB bike split.  It’s fun to ride fast (or at least fast for me).

Con: Absolutely everything about the run.  For as great as my swim and bike were, my run sucked!  The course wasn’t my favorite course – they had us run 4 laps of a 1.25km course (and it was a 625m out-and-back course to boot… not even a circuit).  4 laps of a little course is a lot – it’s surprisingly boring to run past the same few trees again… and again… and again.  Also, in a normal run course the runners are all spread out.  In a small 4 lap course like this there are runners everywhere.  It was crowded, and boring… and just exhausting.  Not that that’s any excuse – my run is my Achilles’ heel.  It sucked.  I have a lot of training work to do on my run this off season.  36:50.  GROSS!!!

Overall:  1:39:02.9.  48/58 in my Age Group (241/272 Men overall).  But I had fun.  I enjoyed going back over to the island.  And any race experience is a good experience.

Sometimes, we just enjoy the finish

The finish is always worth it!

The Dog Days of August

August 14, 2013 7 comments

bautistaencarnacinimage from Drunk Jays Fans

I’m a huge baseball fan – a huge Blue Jays fan (at this point in the season, I may be the only one left).  I often hear the term “The Dog Days of August” referred to in baseball context as a tough part of the season – the fatigue of having played ball every day (essentially) for 5 straight months, combined with the heat of August, and the horizon of post season (the finish line) just a month away.

I think I’ve found my own Dog Days of August.

In 2011 I raced a single sprint triathlon in September of that year.  I started training for it, in earnest, in July of the same summer.  That summer I could hardly run a mile, and sure as shit complained if I had to run two.  I was almost 40lbs heavier than I am today.  I “trained” (though in hindsight, I really just “occasionally exercised”) over a 2 week period, ran my race, and then shut it down.

In 2012 I raced the same triathlon.  This time I started training in June, and with a bit more regularity (albeit with the same general lack of purpose) for 3 months.  I took a few weeks off after before turning to a Run Only program and raced my first 10k running race in early November.

2 months of work in 2011.  5 months of work in 2012.

2013 has been a whole different story.  Beginning with a half marathon in February and followed by a 30k run in March, I’ve raced 6 races already this season, with another 3 planned in the next 5 weeks.  I started training in December 2012, 9 months ago and – other than missed sessions – I really haven’t given myself much of a break.  And further to the length, I’m training with purpose now.  I’m doing more than simply shuffling for a few miles – I’m planning a training routine, mixing up strength training with swimming, biking, and running.  Doing short speed work as well as long endurance work.

I’m exhausted.

worn out

And yet, really, in the world of triathlon training, I’m not doing all that much.  I’m still only training 5-8hrs/week.  But it’s a lot more, for a lot longer, and a lot more intense than it was before.

This is my dog fight.  My dog days of August.  When the summer is hot and the legs are tired, and the finish line is on the horizon.  No amount of sleep seems to be enough.  No amount of food seems to be enough.  I feel like I’m in a constant fog, and my friends and family have noticed.

4.5 weeks until my ‘A’ race, my first Olympic distance triathlon.  In between I have a pair of warm-up races: a 1,500m swim only race this weekend to experience 1,500m in open water with other racers, and a sprint distance triathlon the following weekend to focus on my brick run in a race setting.  It’s time to dig deep – deeper than I’ve had to dig before.  This is my dog days of August.  This is my chance to finish my season strong and proud, and show how far I’ve come, and what I can do.

If only I could do it on a little more sleep.  Wouldn’t that be nice…

Have you ever felt like you were in your ‘Dog Days of August’?  How did you push through?

Applying the Principle of Specificity

August 1, 2013 1 comment


I’ve decided over these next 6 weeks, leading up to my ‘A’ race of the season, I want to really focus on targeted training sessions, or what the Tri world calls Specificity.  I know, this seems like such an elementary concept to seasoned racers (or to many of us who blog like we’re seasoned racers – I’m picking on myself too here).  But I’ve actually been really bad at this lately.

Specificity is quite simply put:

Your body will adapt to the type of stress you put on it. These adaptations will relate to this type of stress being placed on the body and where they are being placed. For example if you want to be strong you must create demands from your body that require these changes. You can run 20 mile a day and you will not become strong because the demands you are placing on your body do not relate to strength they relate to endurance.

– From the Triathlon Training Blog

If you want to run faster, you need to do running speed drills.  If you want to be able to run longer, you need to do long run sessions.  If you want to bike faster, you need to do bike power drills.  If you want to bike longer, you need to do long bike rides.

If you consistently go out and run the same pace, the same distance, the same road, you will be the same runner with the same times.

– Abby, Run Stronger Every Day

Up until this point in my training, I’ve been primarily guilty of doing long runs, and long rides, and long swims, over and over again.  I give myself a bit of slack – I’m still pretty new at this, and still very overweight and out of shape.  Simply being able to run a certain distance without having to stop is a pretty big accomplishment for me

(yeah, I just linked to my own Twitter post… )

But I’ve reached that point where merely finishing isn’t enough any more.  I want to get better.  I want to be faster.  So I need to start putting in the right work to get faster.

Today I spent my lunch hour on the stationary bike at the gym doing overgear training and 1-leg drills.  It felt really weird to go in with a 30 minute plan, work hard for the prescribed 30 minutes (without concern for the average pace the machine told me I was keeping), and then get off the bike.  But I got my sweat on, that’s for sure.  I had kept to the plan – focused on developing speed and power on the bike (and not just the ability to stay in the saddle for long mileage).  Bonus: I didn’t have to ride for 2 hours to get a bike session in.

6 weeks to go until my ‘A’ race seems like a long time, and yet it really isn’t.  I want to look back at the end of that race – at the end of my season – and know I pushed myself.  It’s about training smarter, not training longer.

Do you have a favorite Swim/Bike/Run speed drill you like to do?

Getting Back in the Spin of Things

May 26, 2013 2 comments


I’ve had a lot of trouble getting going this week.  In a training funk, if you will.  Training for endurance events is as much mental as physical.  And as I’m learning, with multiple races in a year, it can start to take a toll on you.

Many endurance athletes like to get their work in during the early mornings.  And I don’t blame them…

  1. Summer temperatures are more sufferable
  2. It gives you a bit of energy for your work day
  3. It means you don’t have to invest hours of time training when you could otherwise be with family and friends

I get it.  I even agree with it.  But I still haven’t been able to haul my ass out of bed this week.

bedtime bear

As I said: A funk.  It’s been a rough week of short, uninspired training sessions.  And with each crappy session, I’ve gotten a little more frustrated with myself.

When it’s a mental funk, it takes a mental lift sometimes to get you out of it.  For me, that came this weekend, in the form of many inspiring posts by my fellow bloggers.  Bloggers who’ve seen improvement, overcome fears, taken on new challenges, found some perspective, and lots of others too.  I love it.  Thanks to all of you for helping to inspire me!

With 13 days to go before my first Triathlon of the season, it’s time to get back to work!

This morning was my weekly long bike ride.  The goal: 50km.  But I didn’t want to simply slug through the distance.  I had some goals for the ride:

  1. Work on fueling.  Last week’s 40km bike ride was a near bonk.  I need to work on my fueling strategy – particularly taking in calories without waiting for a traffic light to stop me (’cause on race day, hopefully that doesn’t happen).
  2. Work on form.  I read so much about form in the swim being so important, but it matters on the bike too.  Drive down with the heels.  Pedal through the full circle.  Keep my knees in (they shouldn’t be hanging out wider than my hips).  Support my upper body with my core – keep the arms light.

Lots of things to distract me from the growing numbness in my ass – it’s the first time this year I’ve been in the saddle for over 2 hours.

Overall a good ride.  50.77km.  Not a crazy-fast pace – there’s lots of pedestrians on the lakefront trail to have to go around, but I thought a good endurance session nevertheless.  And especially after the funk I’ve been in this week, it felt good to get out on the bike and push hard!

Now to go and eat everything in the pantry.  Holy cow I’m hungry!

What inspires you?  What helps you push when you’re lacking motivation?


Finding Balance in Yoga

May 16, 2013 Leave a comment

yogaimage credit

I recently started going to yoga classes at an amazing little studio in my neighborhood, Chopra Yoga.  I’ve been really impressed so far – I’ve been to 3 classes, all different, and each one has equally kicked my ass!


I’m not sure how many triathletes do yoga.  To be honest, it wasn’t something I even thought of when I first started training.  It was always about getting out to swim, or bike, or run.  But yoga seems to make a lot of sense.  There’s lots of arguments to the benefits of yoga to triathletes

“It’s about core strength and flexibility,” Rountree said. The benefits of yoga go beyond the physical. “Yoga can be added in at any point in an athlete’s training,” she said. “It’s becoming more accepted as a training tool.”

How Yoga for Triathletes Works, by Eric Baxter

There’s other sites as well making this argument, such as Triathlete Magazine or MindBodyGreen, or even USATriathlon.

The issue, as I understand it, keeping most triathletes from adding yoga to their training routine is time.  And I certainly get that.  There’s only so many hours in a week for training – the rest has to go to other obligations like work, sleep, family, etc.  With the little time we have, we have to fit in swim training, and bike training, and run training, and hopefully strength training too.  Is there really time for something else?  Is there really time for yoga?

Sometimes it's hard to make time for everything that's important

Sometimes it’s hard to make time for everything that’s important

image credit

For me, there’s time.  Or at least there will be.  Yoga does so many things for me, personally, that I need help with in my training.  It’s great for my core – and my core really sucks.  I could be such a stronger runner, cyclist, and swimmer if I had more strength in my core.  It’s great for flexibility, which I could also use.  Increased range of motion would certainly help with not only my speed, but also with injury prevention.  I’ve been pretty lucky avoiding injury so far [reaches out and touches wooden coffee table], but it happens to the best of us – in this sport, it’s bound to.

But it also helps with finding inner peace and calm.  And that’s a good thing too.  When every other aspect of my training is about intensity – strength, speed, and energy – I find yoga helps to bring me back to center, and remember just why the hell I’m doing all this anyway.

I’m really glad I’ve started going to yoga classes.  They kick my ass, but in a really good way.  Now the trick is to find out how best to balance them with everything else on my training plan.

Do you do yoga?  How does it help you?

First Sunburn of the Year

May 4, 2013 1 comment


My first sunburn of the year, and it’s a doozy.  I look like a tomato – no joke.

I’ve discovered the Martin Goodman Waterfront Trail here in Toronto, handily, because it runs right in front of my home.  The trail is going to be amazing for my training this summer.  On Thursday I took Big Red (my road bike) for her first spin of the year on the trail for a 20km ride.  She was fast – impressively fast.

Looking back at my race history, my 20km bike splits have been in the 44 – 46 minute range (or roughly a 26.5 kph speed).  Thursday’s ride started out real strong, even hitting a top speed of 46.6 kph at one point, but my return half was a lot slower.  In the end my ride took 46:58, with an average speed of 25.1 kph.  While it confirmed for me that my work over the winter has helped increase my wattage output and top end speed, I still have a lot of work to do on sustained endurance.


image credit

The trail was great though – I didn’t have to stop for a traffic light or stop sign once the whole length of the trail.  For a downtown metropolitan trail, that’s pretty darn sweet.  I couldn’t ever open up my speed for any real length of time (which could also speak to my result… though really I think it was just my fitness level showing it’s true colors), as there were a number of other cyclists and joggers, and lots of families and kids walking the trail.  I actually didn’t mind that – I like that there were kids out playing on the trail and enjoying the waterfront.  I don’t mind having to slow down or hit the brakes a few times for kids playing – our community is better when kids are active and play outside

This morning I took to the trail again for my weekly LSD (Long Slow Distance) Run.  My goal at this point in my season is to do a 90 minute long run once per week as a counterbalance to the fartleks and tempo runs and other pieces of speed work I want to do.

This morning’s long run was lovely – the same trail that treated me well as a cyclist did just as well for me as a runner.  I went out for 40 minutes – however far that took me – and then turned around.  I assumed my pace would drop a bit and the same distance back would take longer, but it didn’t (meaning my run only lasted 80 minutes… oh well).  I only covered 11km today – I was a bit disappointed I didn’t got further, but it was after all an LSD run, not a tempo or race pace effort.  I guess I shouldn’t expect to match my personal best.

What I should have expected, though, is that 80 minutes in the sun today deserved sun screen.  Being only early May, it didn’t even occur to me to put on sun screen.  Oops.  After the run was done, a quick trip through the shower and I was off to the Blue Jays game, where the Skydome Rogers Center lid was open.  Still didn’t think to grab sun screen.  The sunburn continued.  And now I look like a tomato.

Yay for sun.  Yay for spring.  Yay for weather that makes us want to get out, and train, and have fun outside.

Apparently tomorrow I will be going to the store to invest in sun screen.  Tonight, I may be sleeping with ice packs.

– DO’G

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