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Race Recap: Toronto Triathlon Festival 2015

June 22, 2015 Leave a comment
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On the summer solstice, the sun rises over the CN Tower in downtown Toronto. A perfect morning for a race

Yesterday was the 2015 Toronto Triathlon Festival, my 2nd time racing this Olympic distance event.  At the end of the day, as I was removing my bike from the transition area to head home, one of the volunteers stopped me to ask how my race went.  “Fantastic”.  It was the only answer I could give, and it’s still the only answer I have now.  A lengthier blog post with stories and pictures is much more interesting, so here it comes.  There were ups and downs, but at the end of it all, it was Fantastic.  I can’t wait to race again next year!

The alarm went off at 5:00am.  Those are the perks of having amazing cousins who live in a condo less than 2km from the race site and who are willing to put you up the night before (even when they’re not in town themselves).  Coffee, breakfast, and out the door by 5:30am, and in the transition area before 6:00am.  The weather had been forecasting 80% chance of thundershowers all day for the past week, even up until I went to bed the night before.  This morning the skies were blue, clear, and it was a perfect day.  Take that, weather network!!

Last year it was still dark when we left the house.  Perks of racing on the summer solstice!

Last year it was still dark when we left the house. Perks of racing on the summer solstice!

Transition set up and such wasn’t too eventful or interesting, so let’s cut right to the race!  My goal, as I wrote last week, was simply to improve on last year’s race (same distance, same course).  Here we go…

The Swim

Last year there was no opportunity for a warm up or water familiarization.  Your wave was called, you jumped in off the pier, and within a few minutes the horn went off and so did you.  This year they created a section to let people swim a few laps to the side before their wave started.  Huge win.  I jumped in the warm up section and my chest instantly clenched.  The water was 14C – so fucking cold.  I couldn’t put my face in for the first few strokes.  But it helped a lot.  When I jumped in again for the actual race I wasn’t nearly as cold.

graceful as ever...

graceful as ever…

The swim was good.  It felt effortless – which is to say, during the race, it felt lazy.  I was breathing well, my stroke was smooth, and had very few collisions with other swimmers.  I thought for sure I was swimming slow because it felt so easy.  I was relaxed, breathing well, and wasn’t even cold.  The course felt long, but I just kept pushing.  About 3/4 of the way through I realized I was pulling unequally hard with my right arm, and my right shoulder was about done.  I tried to start favoring my left arm instead, but it just didn’t have the same power, so I switched back.  It worked fine, but my right shoulder felt like trash when I was done.  All said though, I think, one of the better swims I’ve had.  My wife called out my splits when I got out of the water.  “Roughly 30 minutes” she said.  Amazing!  I was ahead of my goal pace.  What a great start!

2014 Swim: 34:29

2015 Swim: 31:19

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The Bike

The bike ride is an amazing route along the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway, up to Eglington Avenue, and then back.  It’s a very gradual uphill outbound, and the equivalent downhill return.  I expected the uphill to be a bit of a slow climb for me, and it was.  But not as slow as I expected.  I did better than I usually do using my gears to help the climb.  That was rewarding.  The downhill though is the story of the bike ride.  That was fast and smooth, I was able to get into my heaviest gear, lean into the aerobars, and CRANK.  It felt so good to go so fast.  I was in love.  Of course, I didn’t go that fast for that long, and not nearly as long as I went slowly uphill, but it was a lot of fun.

The first/last quarter of the ride along the Gardiner Expressway and through the CNE grounds are relatively flat.  On the return I started to fatigue.  In hindsight, I should have taken some calories in during the bike beyond just my sports drink.  My lower back was tired.  My shoulder, still barking from the swim, was now straining in the aerobars.  My hamstrings were starting to bark.  I tried to adjust my pedal stroke to keep focusing on a full circle effort and using all the muscles in my legs, but the adjustment was too late.  As beautiful as the first 3/4 of the ride went, the last 1/4 was a grind.  I didn’t lose much power or speed, but I beat myself up in the process.  And I was about to pay the price…

2014 Bike: 1:23:18

2015 Bike: 1:23:47

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The Run

Remember that part on the bike where I should have taken in calories?  Remember those back and hamstring pains?  Yep – as soon as I started out on the run I remembered them too.  I had two gels in my jersey pockets for the run, one of which must have fallen out during the bike ride.  The other was consumed within the first kilometer.  In my run training I was used to running on sore quads – the pains in my back and hamstrings were a new distraction and I did a poor job of shutting them out.  My run was embarrassing if not a little funny.  I had so little left in the tank at this point.  The run course was perfectly flat, with a nice breeze coming off the waterfront.  It didn’t matter.  At best I was running a 2:1 run/walk ratio and pushing through a real mental grind.  In those first few kilometers I talked myself out of DNF’ing.  By about the midpoint my back and hamstrings stopped barking.  I was back to the usual running aches that I was used to, and I started to string some longer running stretches together.  But it was still slow and with a lot of walk breaks.  And over the course of the run, the sun got higher in the sky and it got noticeably warmer.  It was a tough run.  I beat myself up too much in the swim and the bike and didn’t leave enough in the tank.  Whoops.

2014 Run: 1:14:17 (yuck)

2015 Run: 1:17:04 (double yuck, but honestly not as bad as I had feared)

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Overall, including transitions?

2014: 3:17:40

2015: 3:17:57

[sigh]  I didn’t quite make my goal of improving on last year’s results.  It’s amazing how, over a 3hr+ race, 17 seconds makes all the difference.  That being said, I had a great swim, and a great bike, and I know I gave everything I had to give on the run.  So I’m happy with it.  Maybe I should have taken in some calories on the bike?  Or maybe I should have just tied my damn shoes a bit faster?  Whatever – it was a great race!

Though, a bit of a beef with the final results.  Look at the picture above:  I’m crossing the line pretty damn close to 3:20:57, and I know my swim wave started 4 minutes after the first wave.  So my time should be the clock less 4 minutes, right? Math?  Maybe the wave started late?  Who  knows.  But I saw the time when I was coming through the finish chute and thought for sure I had – just barley – best last year’s time.  Rats.

Amazing day.  Amazing race.  I missed a PB time by a mere 17 seconds.  I feel really good about it.  And as much as my body aches today (and boy does it ever) I’m happy with my race.  Now to take a few days to recover and start to think about what’s next.

All photos credit to my amazingly supportive wife, who not only got up at the shit crack of stupid to stand around in a park for 3+ hours while I raced, but she actually had fun, cheered me the whole way, and managed to get some great pics with nothing more than an old iPhone4.  I love you so much sweetie.  Your support means everything to me!!!

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Race Recap – Toronto Triathlon Festival

July 14, 2014 2 comments

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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)!!

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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

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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

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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!

– – – – –

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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!

 

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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!

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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!!

Race Recap: Sporting Life 10K (or The Seven Second Conundrum)

May 11, 2014 Leave a comment

SL10k2014D&C

Post race selfies!  So great.  And since the picture already spoiled it: I finished, and got a finisher’s medal.  It’s shaped like a canoe paddle.  How cool is that?!

Anyway, let’s start at the beginning…

This morning, my cousin and I did our 2nd annual running of the Sporting Life 10k in Toronto.  It was a great morning!  This race has become something of a tradition for us – it’s about racing our best, but it’s also a chance for us to visit and catch up.  This is a race weekend I really look forward to.

We knew the race started at 8:00am, and that our wave (based on expected finish time) would head out at 8:20.  I crashed at my cousin’s place in downtown TO last night, and we walked out to flag a cab to the start line at 7:30.  On any other day, walking out onto King St in Toronto, there’s a cab driving by every 30 seconds or so.  Getting a cab is taken for granted.  This morning, apparently not so.  We would discover that – with 28,000 runners all trying to take taxis across town to the starting line of this point-to-point race – there was a scarcity of cabs in the city.  10 minutes later, we were seriously starting to worry about even making it to the start of the race.  Phone calls to various taxi companies were going unanswered.  Then – miraculously – a taxi dropped off a fare right outside my cousin’s condo building.  Convenient!  We made it to the start line around 8:15.  Just barely in time for our wave to start (and well after the elite runners were off).

The starting line went much smoother than it did last year.  We set off with our wave this time (as opposed to last year, when runners were sort of ignoring their waves and heading out when they chose – and thus so did we).  Thousands of runners heading out together – it took us several minutes after the race gun to shuffle across the start line.  But once we got across, the race felt great.  I felt energetic – light – fast.  I felt good.  My cousin and I were zig-zagging through runners from our wave.  We were racing!  It was so much fun!  We were off at a blistering pace (a bit of foreshadowing, for you veteran running race-ers out there…)

My cousin and I stayed together until somewhere around the 4km mark.  I wasn’t sure at the time if I got ahead of her, or if she got ahead of me.  At that point, I was on my own.

The rest of the run was pretty uneventful.  I ran the whole race, which I was quite proud of (apart from a 5 second walk break at one of the water stations – let’s face it, running through a water station ends up as more of a face wash than a drink).  But the run felt long.  Boring almost.  And then I noticed how quiet it was.  Not that there weren’t thousands of other runners running all around me, or spectators lining the route cheering – which was awesome!!  But the bands were missing!  Last year there were live musicians on stages at every kilometer marker.  This year, nothing.  I was so disappointed!  Live music lining the course was one of my favorite parts of the run last year.  Note to new race director: bring that back next year!!  Getting rid of the live music was a mistake!

By the 9km sign I was fully engaged in a mental battle with myself – willing myself to keep pushing hard through the finish.  I was running out of gas, but I knew I had started out strong and had a shot at a Personal Best time.  I only had 1km to go.  So I kept arguing with myself to push through the end.

I crossed the finish line at 9:25:xx (clock time).  Dammit.  Clock time.  I know our wave started at 8:20, but by the time the thousands of runners had advanced through the starting chute, I didn’t notice what time I went across.  Did it take us 5 minutes?  3 minutes?  8 minutes?  I was done, but I had no idea what my chip time was.  Note to self: start wearing a running watch while racing!

It was several hours later before we were able to look our chip times up online.  I ran a personal best time after all: 1:00:07.3

1 hour and 7.3 seconds!!!

On one hand, I just ran a personal best time – 2:30 faster than I had ever run a 10k before.  That’s so awesome!

On the other hand, I missed out on a sub one hour run by 7.3 seconds!  7.3 SECONDS!!!

If I had just run 1 second per km faster over the race, I could have made it (or, more realistically, if I had paced myself a hair better and not run out of gas at the end I could have made it).  Note to self: start wearing a running watch while racing!

It’s now a few hours later.  I’ve left Toronto and come back home.  I’ve wrestled with this conundrum for a few hours.  And I’ve decided I’m really happy with my run.  The elusive 1 hour mark is still out there.  I haven’t conquered that mountain yet.  But I went into this trained and ready, and hoped for a personal best time.  And I got one.  And yet, in spite of a personal best time, I’m now more motivated than ever to get back to training and put the work in to get faster!

First race of the year is in the books.  Now it feels like the race season is underway!  What a great day!

~DO’G

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!!!

 

Post Race Season Funk

September 29, 2013 3 comments

eeyore

It’s been almost 2 weeks since my last post.  It’s been almost 2 weeks since I’ve done anything active at all.  The post race season funk has hit me hard, for sure!

I knew going into the race that I’d be taking a bit of time off after to relax and recover.  The first few days were full of aches and pains as I recovered from my longest race yet.  The biggest culprit were my trapezius muscles – partially from bad overall working-at-a-desk posture, but certainly aggravated during my swim.  I’ve had nearly constant headaches for the past 2 weeks from it, which are only now starting to die down.

Knowing that I’d be taking a few days weeks off from training post race, I also decided I needed to cut back my calories a bit.  Particularly my bad calories.  It started out as a full blown zero carb diet – that lasted about 2-3 days.  Who was I kidding?!?  But it’s evolved into a more reasonable low refined sugar, portion controlled, generally whole foods, (80% of the time) diet.  Yes, this has included giving up 1-2 cans of coke I was drinking each day.  Cold turkey.  I’m now 13 days caffeine free.  This probably also didn’t help the headaches the past week or two.  I was one grumpy S.O.B., that’s for sure!!!

What started out as a few days of recovery evolved into two weeks of laziness.  That’s the mistake I made, I suppose, giving myself permission to take a few weeks off – I took them, even when not needed.  No sense dwelling on it now – time to move forward…

Except I’m really struggling in how to move forward.  For the first time in roughly 18 months, I don’t have another race date on the calendar to train towards.  I don’t currently have any fall/winter runs lined up, and I haven’t given any thought to my 2014 season yet.

So what do I do?

My wife and I joined the YMCA this week – it’s starting to get colder here, and while running outside is usually still an option, it’ll be nice to take the bike and swim workouts indoors.  And holy crap do I need some strength training!!!  I’m looking forward to having a gym membership again.

But trying to make a training plan has been challenging without something to train towards.  How much should I train?  How often?  How long should my long runs and rides be stretched out to?  How many intervals do I need?  At a certain point it becomes paralysis by analysis.  For a lack of the right plan, I end up doing nothing.  I keep sitting on the couch under the guise of “recovery”.

At some point I need to get up off my ass and go for a run.  Who cares if it’s just a little 5k run?  Who cares if it’s training towards something, or simply keeping the body moving?  I don’t need to dive right back into a 2-a-day training plan, but I do need to get off the couch and do something – anything – to get me out of post race season funk.

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?

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