Posts Tagged ‘Cincinnati Triathlon’

Fun with Spreadsheets

October 29, 2013 3 comments


It just so happens that I like spreadsheets.  A lot.

So when I decided it was time to step back and look at 2013’s results with a bit of a bird’s eye view, it meant I got to have fun with spreadsheets 🙂

Actually, what kicked this exercise into full gear was a conversation with my wife – as I was telling her I was having trouble finding direction in this sport.  At a quick glance, it’s easy to look back at 2013 and see a lot of last place (or near last place) age group finishes.  But with a deeper look, there are some positives to take away, and some information to focus on going forward.

Are you excited?  I’m excited!!!  Let’s take a look.


First, I wanted to get a summary of how my season went compared to the M30-34 age group I raced in.  We all know I didn’t win many races.  As the purple line depicts, I was a bottom 20% of the pack finisher across the board (though I only came in last once, at Lakeside).  But I’m happy (relatively speaking) with how my swim did this year.  I even managed to be front half of the pack out of the water in one race.  I’d like to get to the point where I’m front half of the pack out of the water in all my races, but for now at least my swim is respectable.

I think the picture this paints here more than anything is the direct parallel between my run results (two thumbs down to those) and my overall results.  And just how much I got my butt kicked on the run this year.  If I want to do better, I need to run better.  Period.  I know what my focus this winter needs to be!

It also shows that I have better results against the field in shorter duration races.  I have the burst speed to race competitively, but not the stamina to keep it up.   But, I suspect, the longer distance races also draw more experienced race fields overall, whereas shorter distances may draw more recreational, novice, and bucket list athletes.  Not really sure what to do with that, but it’s an interesting thought exercise.

The biggest surprise in this picture?  Must be my bike split from Cincinnati.  Had I had to guess (before seeing these results), my gut instinct was that Toronto Island was my best bike race.  And sure enough, Toronto Island was my better time over the 20km distance.  But compared to the field, I did better in Cincinnati.  Again, not really sure what to make of that… but… interesting at least.


Okay – so here’s a possibly pointless exercise.  If my goal was to finish in the top 5 of my age group (which, sure, I’d love that), how much faster would I have to be in each discipline?  Or, rather, how much faster than me was the 5th place finisher in each of my races?  Because the distances are all different, the results here are in seconds/100m for the swim, in seconds/km for the bike, and in mm:ss/km for the run.

Ultimately, I think it tells the same thing as the first graph.  That the improvement needed in my swim is less than is needed in the bike (and that my run is just crap!!)

And, much like the first graph, I see two (potentially) interesting trends:

  • The difference between my time and the 5th place time is more extreme in the longer durations on the bike.  At Binbrook (30km) and Lakeside (40km) I was not able to keep up, where as I was closer at Cincinnati (20km) and Toronto Island (20km).  I need to work on my bike endurance!!
  • In all 3 distances, I was closest to 5th place at Cincinnati.  What’s unique about Cincinnati?  Well, it’s the only race of the 4 above that isn’t run by Multisport Canada.  I’m starting to wonder if there is a difference in the skill level of the field


A potentially more useful version of the graph above: instead, lets look at what it would take for me to improve to place in the top 15 of my age group (or top 8 in the case of Lakeside, as there were only 9 of us in my age group at that race).  Top 15 may be a much more realistic goal for 2014 than top 5.

There isn’t much surprise here – similar patterns, just less distance between my own result and the 15th place finisher.  In fact, in 3 of the 4 races, I actually swam a faster split than the 15th place finisher (and even had one faster bike split).  Excluding for Cincinnati, I’m pretty consistently 20 seconds/km off a competitive pace (which, isn’t a negligible amount – that’s 10 minutes to shave off a 20km race… yikes).  But I’m a solid 2:00 – 2:30/km off the pace on my run.  That’s going to be the trickier one to make up.

Okay, so what did we learn from this?

Really, not much that we didn’t already know…

  • I’m a terrible runner
  • I’m not quite as bad at the other two disciplines
  • My swim is mid-pack competitive (Yay!!!)
  • I’m a lot closer to a top 15 finish then a top 5 finish
  • I like spreadsheets way too much

Next up is to figure out what I’m going to do with this information.  Which is good, because this post is long enough as it is.  I’ve got a few ideas, but feel free to send any suggestions my way.



Race Recap: Cincinnati Triathlon

July 25, 2013 2 comments


I had an amazing time at the Cincinnati Triathlon this past weekend!  The decision to incorporate a destination race into my schedule this summer was certainly worth it.  I will definitely be doing so again next summer!  A few early thoughts: ChicagoBostonPEI?

I’ll try to do another post later this week about our vacation surrounding the race… for now, let’s focus on the race itself:

The alarm went off at 5:00am.  My poor wife, having worked late several nights in a row before our trip just can’t catch a break to sleep in, even on vacation.  What a trooper!  At least she had a coffee.


The best decision I made on this whole trip was to pack a kettle, a packet of instant oatmeal, a Tupperware container and a spoon.  It was a perfect pre-race breakfast, and I found it gave me the perfect amount of energy for the race.  So much better than hotel continental breakfast of day old cinnamon buns, or trying to find a coffee shop in a strange city at 5:00am.

We made it to the transition site by 6:00.  While Cincinnati is in the same time zone as Toronto, it’s sufficiently further west that it’s a lot darker at 6:00 here than back home.  I haven’t yet had to set up my transition area in the dark – not that it was too dark to see – it just made it feel really early.

The gun went off at 7:00… except it wasn’t really a gun, more just a guy at the top of the wall along the river’s edge shouting “GO” into a megaphone.  Whatever, it worked.  The swim was really neat – I’m used to swims in lakes where the swim heads out into the deep water, around some markers, and back to shore.  This swim was in the Ohio river, in a single direction, and all along the river’s edge.  Many of the swimmers were a mere few feet from the concrete river wall the whole length of the swim.  Adding to the experience – spectators were right down at the river’s edge with us, and walking along with their swimmers.  It was really neat each time I took a breath to the shore side seeing my wife walking along beside me.


I swam the 400m stretch in 6:47 (1:42/100m pace).  Not as fast as I know I’m capable of, especially for such a short distance, but at the same time distinctly faster than the 2:00/100m pace I swam in my past two open water swim races.  I’m still not happy with where my swimming is at this summer, but it was good to see improvement.

T1 was a real gem for me.  In the first triathlon I ever did (September 2011) my T1 time was an ugly 3:19.  I’ve been working on getting that down, and managed to do T1 this race in 1:54.  Win!!


The bike caught me off guard.  I heard from a friend of mine, who’s previously run the Cincinnati Marathon, that Cincinnati is a rather hilly city.  Shit he wasn’t kidding!  The bike route took all of 5 city blocks to get from transition onto an expressway, riding up the steepest expressway exit ramp I’ve ever seen.  There’s nothing like jumping on the bike, working to get your legs under you, and within the first minute having to drop to your easiest gear to get up a damn hill.  And once at the top, I don’t think there was a flat stretch on the whole expressway.  I managed to ride the 20km distance in 43:30 (27.59kph pace).  Again, not as fast as I know I’m capable of – I was hoping for sub 40:00 – but given that the amount of hills exceeded my expectations, even with warning, I’m not terribly unhappy with it.


T2 was another gem.  I think my transitions saved my race time.  I was able to get through T2 in 1:18.

My run was crap!  I just couldn’t get anything going.  The run itself was a little hilly, though not as bad as the bike was.  I felt good in the run – I had strength, I had energy, I had confidence.  Unfortunately, I also had lead legs.  I could not convince them to work any faster.  I didn’t realize how poor my run was until I turned the last corner and saw the finish line clock.  It was pretty ugly.  5km in 36:19 (7:15 min/km pace).  GROSS!!!


I thought I should be able to do this race in under 1:30:00.  My final time was 1:29:52.  18/19 in my age group.

I’m happy with the overall time.  I met my goal… but I feel like there were lots of lost opportunities to really knock this one out of the park.  My run was really disappointing.  I know I can do better than that.

Tonight I went out for my first post race run – a 10km tempo run I did at a 7:01/km pace.  A bit better, but still pretty slow (and no bike or hills to blame this one on).  I feel like I’ve lost my run a little bit.  My wife reminds me how much I’ve improved in the past 2 years, and I agree – and it is good to focus on that – but at the same time, I want to keep getting better.

With this race behind me it’s time to turn my attention to my ‘A’ race of the year – the Lakeside Olympic Triathlon on September 15th.  In addition to simply finishing my first Olympic distance race (which itself will be a huge accomplishment), I think I’m going to make my run a priority for this race.  I want to run a personal best split before the off season begins.  I want to wrestle this pig back into the mud! (see what I did there, I tied it back to the pig picture at the top!  Now that’s writing!)

Have you ever gone through a period where you’re run has struggled?  What did you do?

Race Preview: Cincinnati Triathlon

July 17, 2013 1 comment
This, apparently, is Cincinnati

This, apparently, is Cincinnati

I’ve been away from posting for a little while – owing partly to a bit of a training ramp up, and a bit of a laptop crash.  Feels like there’s a lot to catch up on…

This weekend is the Cincinnati Triathlon.  I’m crazy-stoked for this one.  I posted recently about wanting to find my mental strength, and that being a focus these past few weeks.  It’s paid off.  I’ve had some great training sessions!

mrstrongOn Friday of last week I had my first personal training session with a good friend of mine @EmilyMcGray (who is going to school to be a Personal Trainer – she’s legit).  Holy crap did she kick my ass.  We put in a solid 90 minutes that left my abs feeling weak for about 3 days afterward.  But it felt so good to work with a pro again.  It’s been years since I last worked with a trainer – usually I just fumble through the gym on my own.  I had a plan, and together we pushed through it.  #Awesome!

This past weekend I took my bike on the train up to Barrie ON for a little self-guided Triathlon Boot Camp!  Just me, my bike, my running shoes, and the summer heat.  I like to give a good training push the weekend before a race, before beginning my taper week.  First challenge: the 40+ km crazy-hill bike ride from Barrie to Wasaga Beach… with a full weekend’s worth of supplies on my back… in > 30° full sun, mid-afternoon torturous heat.  Bring it!


The ride was a little slow – owing mostly to my father and uncle riding out from Wasaga to meet me half way (and the resulting social visits on the side of the road that followed).  On paper the ride took me 1:48:xx to complete, but I’m sure I spent a good 20 minutes of that standing around chatting.  Nothing beats a good mix of hard training work with a bit of socializing sprinkled in.

The next day I put in a good hard bike/run brick.  It was hot, but I pushed through.  And I’m really glad I did, because Cincinnati this coming weekend looks like it could be a real stinker  (although, Sunday does look like the best day in Cincinnati in the next 5 days)…


I’m really looking forward to this race.  This is going to be my first destination race.  My wife and I are leaving Toronto for the ~8hr drive via Detroit to Cincinnati on Saturday morning.  The goal is to be on the road at 6:00am (ha!… well, we’ll try).  That should put us in around 2:00 – with 2hrs left before race kit pick up closes at 4:00.  Then we have the evening to explore the city.  Any recommendations from anyone out there of how to power see Cincinnati in an evening?  Maybe a Reds game?  Or a walk through downtown?

Sunday morning is race morning.  400m swim, point to point, downstream, in the Ohio river (I think this is the definition of a ‘sprint’ swim) followed by a 20km bike and 5km run along the river banks in downtown Cincinnati.  I’m going to have to keep from gawking at Great America Ball Park or Paul Brown Stadium as I bike by – I’m a sucker for sports stadiums!

I’m feeling, perhaps, the most prepared for a race I’ve ever felt.  I could always have trained more, but I’m ready to go.  I think this is going to be a great race!  My only apprehension is the 7:00am gun start.  God that’s early!  I have to have my transition set up and be out of the transition area by 6:45am.  It’s going to be a really early wake up call in my hotel, I think…

But, the beauty of a 7:00am race gun is that we’ll be back at the hotel in time to grab some free hotel breakfast buffet after the race.  Score!

Go Buckeyes!!!

Go Buckeyes!!!

After the race we’re driving up to Columbus OH to spend the rest of Sunday touring another city – the city I was born in.  I haven’t been back since I was 2 years old.  I can’t wait.  I’m looking forward to touring The Ohio State University, my dad’s alma mater.  After that, we’re letting be our city guide.  I’ll be ready for a post race drink or two!

Monday we’ll be road tripping home, taking a lengthy stop in Cleveland OH to visit Fat Head’s Saloon for lunch, and possibly a stop in Buffalo NY for dinner (whatever it takes to avoid crossing the border at rush hour).  I love that my wife loves beer as much as I do – this is going to be a great road trip!

Blue Monk

I can’t wait to do my first destination race.  I’ve been excited about this one since I laid out my race schedule last November.  I’m not fast – I don’t race to win, just to do my best and have fun.  The idea of rolling it into a road trip – a vacation – sounds perfect to me!  This is what Age Group racing is all about!!!

Have you ever done a destination race?  Any tips for this travel rookie?

 – – or – –

Have you ever been to Cincinnati, Columbus, or Cleveland?  Any suggestions of what we need to see or do?


Sad Panda

May 29, 2013 1 comment


Today is a sick day.  Boo.  I hate taking a sick day – not only ’cause I feel like crap, but because I know the mess that will be waiting for me when I get back to work tomorrow.  Wouldn’t it be nice sometimes if the world could just shut down for a day when you need to?  Funny enough, it seems to keep on going.

My wife always reminds me to practice Self Care.  In training, such as in health, sometimes you need to dial it before a small issue turns into a nagging problem that slows you down for a long time.

Last night, while trolling on twitter (’cause I was already starting to feel like my couch was where I needed to be), I came across this:

Simon Whitfield is one of my triathlon heroes.  If he’s announcing a new Tri race in my city, I’m listening!

So I went and looked it up.  The Toronto Triathlon Festival.  Well shit, doesn’t this look nice!  From one of the pages on their website summarizing the 2012 race:

Canada’s Olympic Flag Bearer, Simon Whitfield, and fellow Olympian, Paula Findlay, competed [in 2012]

Okay… wait… both of my triathlon heroes actually raced this event last year?!?  Wouldn’t it be so amazing to toe the line with them?  This race sounds too good to be true…

… except for one little problem…

It’s on Sunday July 21st.  The same day I’m already signed up to race the Cincinnati Triathlon.  The registration fee is already paid, and the hotel is already booked.  Dammit!!  Why do these have to be the same weekend?!?

It isn’t to say that I’m not looking forward to racing Cincinnati this summer… rather, I’m really looking forward to it.  This will be my first time doing a vacation race – planning a vacation to another city around a race.  Plus, Ohio is special to me – I was born in Ohio, so I’m looking at this as a bit of a pilgrimage home… of sorts.  I hope to swing through Columbus on my way home and drive past the house I spent the first 2 years of my life in.  I think it’s going to be an amazing weekend!

It’s just too bad it’s the same day as the Toronto Triathlon Festival.  Why can’t I have both?!?

Sad Panda :-(

Sad Panda 😦

That’s it.  I’m going back to bed…

– DO’G



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