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Race Preview: Toronto Triathlon Festival

June 19, 2015 5 comments

TTFLogo

I’m actually really nervous about this race.  I shouldn’t be, but I am.

Someone asked me the other day how many triathlons I have done?  This will be my tenth.  5 Sprint distance races, 3 Olympic distance races, and 1 Try-a-Tri, and now this one.  Ten races in what is now my 5th summer in the sport (which is really cool, and should probably be a separate post in it’s own right).  In fact, I even did this race last year – I loved it, and I did really well at it too!

Why am I so nervous?  I think because I feel underprepared.  A funny thing happens somewhere around your 5th summer racing/your 10th race – you start to care about more than ‘just finishing’.  As my wife said to me a few weeks ago, there’s no doubt I could walk onto an Olympic distance race course tomorrow and finish.  It might be ugly, but I would finish.  And that used to be enough.  Somewhere along the way I started wanting more.

I’ve put in the work.  I joined a Master’s swimming group – granted I’ve been out less than 10 times since I’ve joined, but that’s still a lot more (and better) swimming than I’ve trained in the past.  And I’ve also joined a cycling group, which has really pushed me on the bike.  Today is the 19th of June – less than half way though the calendar year, and with all of summer still ahead of me – and I’ve already swam more than I did either of the past two whole years.  I’ve biked 60% as much so far as in all of 2013 and 40% as much as 2014 (when I was bike-commuting to work).  I’ve even run already almost 60% as much as I did last year.  That’s a whole lot of numbers-mumbo-jumbo to say: I’ve put the work in.

15Yearly1

2013 vs 2014 vs 2015 (to date) full year training volumes

But my last few training sessions have all been rough.  Both of my runs this past week – both <8kms – have been absolute slugs.  My legs hurt, my heart rate was elevated, and I just felt off.  My ride this past week, and in fact all of my rides so far this spring, while I’ve been putting in the work have felt tough and the split times have been slow.  My bike feels like it’s 20lbs (that’s a lot for a road bike), and even the easy gears feel like a lot of work.  And while I’ve put a lot of quality work into my swim, it’s been over 3 weeks since I last got into the pool.  The quantity of work is there, but the quality feels gross.  I don’t feel like I’m peaking for race day – I feel like I’m about to stumble over the start line.  Which isn’t to say I don’t think I can finish, but I’m nervous about doing well.

But I know this course, and it suits me well.  It’s flat and fast.  I’m a power cyclist (strong legs, can pump a heavy gear for a long time, not good at all on hill climbs), and a confident swimmer.  And I’ve done this race before, and loved it.  This all gives me confidence.  Last year I finished this same course in 3:17:40.93, which is currently my Olympic distance Personal Best.  I think I can beat that!

So, if you happen to be awake at 6:54am on Sunday morning, when my swim wave goes off, send a cheer my way.  Or, ya know, go back to bed!

easier faster

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!!

Ready To Go

May 3, 2014 2 comments

SL10K-new

I just finished my last long run before my first race of the year, next weekend’s Sporting Life 10k.  I feel ready.  Ready not only to run this race, but to get my race season underway.  It’s time to get this shit going!

I haven’t had a race since mid September.  I’ve felt a bit lost in the wilderness ever since then.  Like I’m training without urgency.  Like skipping a workout isn’t a problem, because race day is still so far away.  Well not anymore.  It’s time to kick off the 2014 season!  I’m seriously excited about this!!!

I raced this same race last year – I wrote a pretty extensive race preview at that time.  I don’t have much different to say this year as far as race previews go.  The race is sold out this year – 28,000 runners expected.  I can’t wait.  Plus, I get to run again with my cousin, which I always enjoy.  PLUS, this race last year is where I set my 10k Personal Best time (1:02:41) – and I kinda think I might have a shot at beating it this year.  My weight is down about 10lbs since this time last year.  My average running speed is :15 – :30 per km faster than it was this time last year.  I’m not feeling ‘under-trained’, as I did this time last year (so says my race preview post from last year).  And this is a course designed for Personal Best times:

All.  Down.  Hill.

All. Down. Hill.

Seriously excited.  Seriously ready to go.  Seriously ready to get this race season started!!!

 

Training Race Preview: Toronto Island Lake Swim

August 17, 2013 Leave a comment

TorontoIslandLakeSwim

Tomorrow morning I’m tackling the Toronto Island lake Swim, 1.5k swim race.  It’s the first of two training races I’m tackling this month in preparation for the Lakeside Olympic Triathlon in September.

I’m looking forward to this one.  I’m feeling very relaxed about it.  The plan is to use it as a training race, and that’s what I’m going to do.

What’s a training race to me?  Well… I’m still going to race hard.  I still want to do the best I can and get the fastest time I can.  There’s no intention of half-assing this one.  But I’m looking to learn from this race.  The whole idea of a training race is to go in with a purpose – something specific you want to test or assess and take away feedback in preparation for your ‘A’ race.

For me, this is my first time doing the 1,500m distance in open water with other swimmers around me.  And I expect – based on how they market this race – that this won’t be your typical triathlon swim start field (where half the racers are looking to survive the swim and get to the bike or run, where they excel).  There will likely be a lot of good swimmers here.

Good.  Bring ’em on!  My goal in this race is to swim with the pack for the full 1,500m.

I’ve done a lot more open water swim training this summer than in any previous summer, but it’s all solo swimming – out in the open water, away from lane markers or time clocks or coaches or other swimmers… anything at all to use as a pace coach.  I find it so easily to mentally drift.

I’ve swam 1,500m many times before, but never in a race.  Never with race nerves or adrenaline.  I’ve never pushed to keep up with other swimmers over this long a distance.

So that’s my goal for tomorrow: irrespective of finish time, to keep up with the pack and stay strong through the full 1,500m.

Have you ever done a “training race”?  How did you approach it?

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!

Bike130713

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)…

Weather130717

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 beeradvocate.com 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?

 

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)?

 

Race Preview: Sporting Life 10k

May 8, 2013 Leave a comment

SportingLife10k

Before you know it, your next race is upon you…

This weekend is my 3rd race of 2013 – the Sporting Life 10k.  I have very mixed feelings about this race.  On one hand, I’m really looking forward to this for a couple reasons:

  • I’m looking forward to running with my cousin again.  We ran together in the Hamilton Road2Hope 10k last fall and had a blast
  • For the first time ever, I’m entered into a race that isn’t a longer or tougher distance than my previous races.  I’ve done a 10k before.  For the first time, I’m not going to be content with merely finishing
  • The race is sold out – 27,000 runners.  Holy crap!  The largest race I’ve been a part of so far was 10,000 racers (and before that, about 500 racers).  I wonder if I’ll notice the difference between 27,000 and 10,000?  I better not come in last this time!!!

On the other hand, I’m also not looking forward to this race for a couple reasons:

  • I’m under trained
  • I’m really under trained
  • I’m really ridiculously under trained

I got a few runs in over the last week, but one week does not constitute a training program.  I’m not ready to do my best.

It’s a “B” race for me though – I would like to do well… better than I suspect I will do.  But I’m not going to get too bent out of shape over it at this point.  Time to go out and giv’er my best and see what we can do.

My 10k PB is 1:09:41.  I’d love to beat that.  I’m hoping to beat that.  I might have a chance to beat that…

The race is advertised as “downhill” at pretty much every opportunity the organizers get.  And they’re not kidding.  Looking at an elevation map they sent out with the race route:

All.  Down.  Hill.

All. Down. Hill.

Apparently I didn’t believe this when I saw it.  Apparently I had to go and test it out.

Race kit pick up is all this week at the Sporting Life store, which is at the start line.  Today I was in my office (which is on the race route, at the 7.1k point).  I decided I should go pick up my race kit after work.  I decided I should walk from work to the pick up… since it’s a nice day.

Yes, the run is going to be all downhill, as I discovered

Therefore, the walk there was all uphill, as I also discovered.  7.1k uphill.

But at the end, I got my race kit, and now have a new race shirt to add to my training wardrobe:

Self portraits are not my specialty

Self portraits are not my specialty

(I put that picture in to show how lousy I am at self portraits… and also how bad the particular red of the shirt clashes with the still-very-red arms I’m sporting.  But here’s a better look at the shirt)

Front

Front

Back

Back

When signing up for the race, I had to select a starting coral based upon my expected finish time.  I chose the “green” coral (for racers expecting to finish between 0:56:00 and 0:59:59).  Let’s be honest: there’s no way in hell I’m going to run sub 1:00:00 – not 10 minutes faster than my PB.  Not with how little training I’ve done so far.  But I’m feeling good about an aggressive goal, and I think running with faster (though not impossibly faster) runners will be a good push.  And who knows – with the course being so downhill, maybe it could happen…

I think, this weekend, I have no idea what’s going to happen.  But I’m going to have fun.

~DO’G

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