Sunday, September 30, 2012

Learning to learn...

Getting back into the workout routine was hard, but achieved. The most depressing thing is how quickly (after two months off) you lose your endurance. I have been finishing 5k runs, but it is HARD! Everything aches! I have stepped up the yoga/stretching a bit to avoid injury as my body readjusts. 

I got a subscription to Training Peaks and so far I am really impressed. I am still using Garmin Connect to upload my initial data, and do have to say that Garmin Connect is a much "prettier" interface - cleaner and easier to navigate between workouts, etc. However it comes nowhere close to all the graphs, tables and metrics that Training Peaks is able to calculate and display. On top of that, you can track all your nutrition in Training Peaks (normally a difficult process but a little less so here). I am just reading Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes 3rd Edition by Monique Ryan to try and learn basic nutrition strategies - both for the race, and also just day to day. The more weight I can lose, the less I have to carry around the course! Training Peaks will help with not only tracking the overall calories, but also the % of carbs, protein, fat and fibre. There are so many features that I have spent awhile just experimenting.  I need to re-read the Triathlete's Training Bible, go over what I should be doing, and plug in an actual plan for the 2013 season.

Speaking of plans and training, I needed to calculate my yearly training hours. They suggest on Training Peaks it is around 500 - 700 hours for a half-ironman. 500 - 700 hours of training for the year. I did 70hrs so far this year. So around 120 hours for the year. Might have to step that up a bit!

I was in contact with a few coaches to see about hiring one, but it's just not in the budget this year. I don't really feel that they are over priced by any means - most seem to average $200 a month. But then that's $2400 a year - which is a lot of triathlon equipment lol! That does scare me though, because I hate to go it alone so-to-speak. And the wealth of information is overwhelming. But I love books and hope to read a bunch and survive next year's Calgary 70.3. I hope in the next few seasons I will be able to get into a club or coaching situation to help me progress even further.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Vacation time is coming to an end...

It's been around 5 weeks since I started summer/fall vacation - a wonderful time with family and friends to escape from daily doldrums and refresh mentally before winter sets in. A wonderful time of long runs, longer bike rides and beautiful swim sessions in pristine lakes. The joy of accomplishments finishing workout, after workout... Okay even I can't help but laugh as I write this. There were no runs. No bike rides. No swim sessions (at least in the workout sense). I did very little during vacation. I don't know how I feel about this really. I needed a vacation, but I do think I would have enjoyed a good workout here or there.

Overall while the workouts were lacking, the activity was still abound. We spent a few weeks at my parents cottage and I did get in the water, wetsuit and all, almost every day. I also found another new sport that I enjoy - Standup Paddle-boarding. This sport had popped up every now and then in triathlon literature as a great cross-training method for building core strength and arm/shoulder strength. It also looked really fun! So I rented a board from White Squall Paddling Centre and gave it a try. Although most people (myself included) look at standup paddle-boarding (or SUP) and ask the question "why stand on a board and paddle around when you can sit in a canoe or kayak". The gentlemen that helped me with the rental said he had the same thoughts, until he tried it, and was instantly hooked. It's true you can't quite explain why, but if you try it, you love it. The cottage is located on a fairly windy bay, and the wind added to the intensity of the workout. Many times my arms were screaming. I hope to continue with this sport as another great cross-training platform. Unfortunately like most things I love, it's not a cheap sport, with the average beginner board running around $1000.00. If you are interested in learning more, or checking out the equipment, RedNik Surf Co in Calgary can help you out. I hope to head there for the first time in the next couple of months - maybe I'll get lucky and they'll have an end of season sale...

Back to the topic of workouts, I have had difficulty with motivating myself as my season is over. Due to my work schedule, there were no more triathlons or races that I could easily enter when I was not at work or on vacation. Signing up for a race and paying an entry fee really is the best way to motivate yourself to head out on a run, or hop on the bike, or jump in the pool. So today, after receiving an email from the event directors, I signed myself up for 2013 70.3 Ironman Calgary. Yah - a bit of a jump for sure. May have been a bit impulsive on that one! I have only one sprint race under my belt, and it was a challenge to finish, and I just signed myself up for a Half-Ironman. Oh well, guess if you're going to do it, might as well go big.

Needless to say, I was on the treadmill tonight ;-)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

70.3 Ironman Calgary - Volunteer Report!

This past Sunday I volunteered as a Paramedic for the medical team at the Ironman Calgary race. I did this because I really enjoy triathlon, and thought it would be really fun to witness the event - and I was right! I had a blast!

My job was to ride the bike portion on my motorbike and respond to any emergencies that may take place. (Luckily I did not have to respond to any!). Here's my Volunteer take on the course:

That morning was cold - 8 degrees on the highway as I rode into Cochrane, and then onto the Cottage Club where the race was set to start. It was really neat to see all the athletes preparing, and you could feel the excitement and apprehension in the air. I thought the water would be freezing judging by the outside temperature, but a friend that raced said the water was a "warm" mountain temp of about 17 degrees. After my struggle swimming the 750 meters in my sprint race, I have nothing but respect for the athletes that morning that swam 1.9km!

Once out of the water, the transition was... interesting. The layout put the transition over a rather steep hill. up the road. This meant that the pros, who's bikes were at the very end (closest to the exit), had to exit the water and run directly uphill to reach their bikes. Rasmus Henning was first out of the water, and first off on his bike. I'm currently reading his book and it was awesome to see him in action and follow him on the course.

After the majority of the pros got off on their bikes, I hopped on my bike and peddled (just kidding) after them on my motorbike. The bike portion of this race is beautiful, travelling back into the foothills, down into Cochrane, through and across Springbank and into Calgary, ending at the reservoir. I've read online that Triathlete magazine placed the Calgary Half Ironman in it's list of the Top Ten most scenic triathlons, and now I can see why. It was great to get to ride through the foothills, but to also be doing it along with the pros was a triathlon nerd's dream.

At one point I pulled over (had to stretch the legs - like I should be whining after all that the athletes were going through!) and got to cheer on the athletes as they rode by. I was then stationed at the corner of 69st and Hwy 8 and who passed me but Sister Madonna Buder, The Iron Nun herself! Also, looking fantastic on the bike with a huge smile on her face was Deb (check out her race report at

Unfortunately I missed the run portion, around the Glenmore Reservoir. I heard the course was beautiful as well, but hilly. I spent some time at the finish line watching people cross, and was amazed at what they had accomplished. I cannot wait until I too can finish the Ironman 70.3 Calgary.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


So it has been almost 2 weeks since my first triathlon! At work, this time I took it easier on the workout front, to allow my body to rest. Since I learned that my swim is a weakness, I want to concentrate on it over the coming months, as well as adding more strength training on a regular basis. I would like to try and do at least 3 sprint distance triathlons next season.

It feels weird not having a race to work towards (unfortunately I am not able to fit the remaining triathlons into my schedule due to work and vacation). I will be signing up for a few more running races, so that I stay motivated in my workouts. I really think the best way to keep yourself honest and training is by having the odd race to hold you accountable!

Yesterday I received a huge "reward". We went into a clothing store, and I was able to fit into shorts and pants with a 36" waist! I used to wear a 40" waist! The great thing about this, is that there are far more clothes available in the smaller sizes. And I am feeling better about the way I look - which also then makes me want to train more and harder in order to improve and maintain what I have gained.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tri It Triathlon Chestermere - July 15, 2012 - Race Report

It's exciting to be writing my first race report for a triathlon! I'll try and include all the details I can remember...


I slept pretty well the night before - which is strange - but with the kids out of the house I didn't have to get up and banish monsters from closets at 4 am. The alarm went off at 5:30 and I was up. I had packed and organized everything last night, so there was little worry about what I was forgetting. There were some nerves on the ride to Chestermere, but nothing beyond ordinary. I wasn't able to eat very much for breakfast - a small bowl of cereal and an apple - as my stomach wasn't interested. I can see where this may be a problem for longer distance races.

We arrived early at the race (around 7a.m.), which gave me lots of time to rack my bike, set up for transition and get body marked. It was fun setting up in transition for the first time - it's a great opportunity to meet your fellow competitors, and check out how they set their stuff up. There was a huge variety of equipment - from mountain bikes right up to specialty tri-bikes. Getting body marked was cool - as I had seen it on the triathlon events I have watched - like Ironman. I haven't completely washed it off yet!

Weather wise it was perfect - the thunderstorms they had been calling for held off, and the temperature was nice and cool for the event.

At the pre-race briefing I learned another important lesson - courses change! First the order that we were starting was changed slightly. Second, the direction of the swim was changed from counter-clockwise to, you guessed it!, clockwise. Third, the run course was altered. Overall I think the course set up was great! It had just enough hills to be challenging, and some nice downhills to compensate (more on that later...).

After the briefing I went and got into my wetsuit, and my wife and I watched the Olympic distance race start. I then got into the water to test out the wetsuit, and get used to the cold. I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be (or should have been according to how I felt during!). Looking back, race morning was not the best time to try the wetsuit out for the first time...

The Swim

When the horn went off, I stayed near the back and let the strong swimmers head off. I am not nervous about swimming in open water at all, which was my only advantage I think. Growing up at the cottage gave me lots of exposure to swimming in a lake (weeds and all). However, I definitely did not get enough practice in on the swim. I think in the last few months I was in the pool maybe 6 times. And that's a pool!

I immediately started with the front crawl. It was fun trying to work your way around the other competitors - even at the back it was a bit chaotic! But by about half-way to the far buoy, I was completely winded. I think it was a combination of race nerves, swallowing lake water (Yuck!) and not being adequately prepared. At this point my swim went downhill, and I ended up switching mostly to side-stroke, with a little back stroke, modified breaststroke (were "modified" just means bad lol) and back to an attempt at front crawl. It took me forever to finish the swim. It's amazing how far the distance between the buoys seems to increase when you're struggling. My goggles stayed on my head - but fogged up nicely. At one point I even pulled them up just to see. Proper sighting during the swim is a skill, and one that I plan on mastering over the next few months.

Just passed halfway, when I could make out the finish line, I felt totally down. I was really struggling, and had been passed by almost everyone. But then I remembered that I was indeed looking at the finish line! And at that point I didn't care if I had to doggy-paddle the rest! I made it to the end, and out of the water, and regained my composure.

They had some volunteers helping to strip you out of your wetsuit, which was a great help! Funny enough, my timing chip came off and got stuck in the suit. I didn't mind though - I needed the break! (I think I even mentioned that to the volunteer). Into transition I ran a bit to my spot, and then I took my time - I dried off, sat down, put my bike shoes on, attached my HR monitor and watch, made sure I had everything, and left for the bike. I didn't panic in transition. Just got some wind back, and prepped for the bike course...

Time: 19:49
Place: 100/115

The Bike

I really enjoy riding my bike - and it ended up being my strong point of the race. Once I manage to clip my shoes in (still need a little practice on this!), I was off. Right out of town there is a bit of a hill, but it's completely doable - just have to make use of your gears. I immediately started passing some people, which after the swim, was a boost! The bike portion is a really nice ride, with one section running through some canola fields. Along the course, I started being passed by the Olympic distance racers - man they were fast! And the good thing about being passed by these guys was it gave you a bit of encouragement to speed up. The last section of the lap, back into town, has some nice downhill sections, and the volunteers were great at directing you. We had to ride along open roads, which can be intimidating, but all the traffic was great and moved into the opposite lane to give us lots of room.

Rounding the corner and starting my second lap felt great! Big smiles on this course. I felt like I did stronger on the hill out of town this time. The weather was starting to change, and with it we had a bit of a headwind during the second lap, which made it a bit difficult. I also noticed during the second lap, that my butt really started to hurt. A few times I had to stand and re-position. I also felt like I really had to pee, so I planned to stop and the porta-potties prior to starting the run. There is a big difference between tri-short padding and bike short padding! The race officials were fun, and as I came into town from this last lap, they asked me if I wanted to do another, just for fun. Needless to say I declined. When I hopped off the bike, my butt thanked me, and interestingly the feeling of needing to pee disappeared (some weird bike seat thing I guess...)

According to Garmin, my top speed was 39.4km/hr. Not to bad! With a total distance of 23.28kms.

Official Time: 54:31

The Run

My second transition was much faster, and I was feeling pretty good off the bike. At the dismount line, my legs were like rubber, but by the time I got to my stall, they felt stronger. I hadn't taken in any calories on the bike, so I grabbed half a goo and some water just in case.

The start of the run was chaotic, as at this point all of the distances were mixed. The run went off into a park, and then up into the subdivision. There was a really decent hill section, which I walked for about 20 seconds each lap, to bring my HR down. The advantage was that there was a really decent downhill section, which helped gain you some speed - lean forward and pick up your pace! Coming into the turnaround point was a great feeling - my wife was there cheating me on! It's funny too - I really wanted to walk again, but with everyone watching, you just keep pushing yourself - one foot, then the other, and repeat. Going out onto my final lap, I felt awesome mentally! I was almost done my first triathlon! The second lap went just as well as the first, and as I came into the finish area I managed to pick up my pace a bit.

They had the banner across for each finisher, which was cool! And before I knew it, I was done! An unbelievable feeling. I hugged my wife, and then went straight for the water, juice, bananas and other goodies - I figured I'd earned it!

Official Time: 27:37

TOTAL TIME: 1:41:56
Place: 82/115