It feels like I need another few days off to recover from the weekend. On Friday right after work in the heat of the day I ran a 25k training run. I felt totally depleted. Jackie was in Ottawa spending some time with Brandon so it was a good opportunity to finish my long run. On Saturday morning it was a 100k of biking, and then chores. We were losing most of the day on Sunday for a trip to Toronto so I had to cram two days worth of chores into one day! After cleaning the house and getting ready for the neighbourhood BBQ party we headed out. Paul and Laura throw a great party! We got to meet some of the new members of the neighbourhood, and catch up with some of the “older” ones. It was a fun night.
On Sunday morning I did my early swim and then headed off to Toronto for the day. The plan was to meet Brittany and her new boyfriend Rui. We had heard plenty of good things about Rui but had yet to meet him. I packed the gun in the van, just in case it was required. We had lunch at an Irish pub just behind the Eaton’s Centre. I was trying hard to find some fault in her new man, but I couldn’t. Rui was such a nice man, and a perfect match for Brittany. I could tell she was happy by the way she looked at him. That is all a father can ask for right? We also met Brittany’s new roommate. Another first introduction on the day!
My training continued all week. This past week I travelled 252 kms during my training. The big day is approaching way to quickly!
See you at the finish line.
I missed a blog entry last week. Not for any specific reason other than things have been so busy. Last weekend I participated in a local triathlon in Sydenham. My coach said it was ok to add this one to the schedule, but that I would train right through it. What did that really mean? I came to find out that after the race I had yet another 1.5 hour bike ride on my schedule. It wasn’t too bad as the weather was nice. I did well in the race. I placed 14th overall. Of course, all the young ones ran past me during the running segment. Oh to be young and athletic again! I came in 2nd place in my age group. Not a bad day at the races.
This week has been typically busy. We had a visit from my only niece on Friday night. Nicole had been staying with my parents in Brockville for a week of vacation. I took her to a local pub to meet some of my health care coworkers and then for a tour of the new hospital. We had some good laughs. She has grown into a nice young lady. The longer workouts continue and the date of the final Ironman looms large. I cancelled my reservation at the Fairmont Hotel as triathlete friends of mine offered up their condo for the weekend. It is a three-bedroom place right on the hill that sleeps 10! Underground parking is included as well as free WIFI. Everyone is invited now! It saved me a ton of money as well. The hotels in Mont Tremblant during the Ironman weekend are all over $600 a night.
The long rides on Saturday mornings are now bordering on insane. Yesterday I rode over 130 kms. I went through a few sprinkles in the early morning and the sun came out. Come to think of it I preferred the rain as it was much cooler. Today was an hour swim and a 22k run. I continue to consume enough food to feed a small city.
This past week I travelled 292 kms during my training.
See you at the finish line….
After last week’s race I needed a bit of rest and recovery. I had two days off from any workouts at all. I somehow picked up the dreaded “summer cold” as well. I assume my immune system may be a bit weak at this point. The cold has made sleeping difficult, but that means that I am getting a lot of reading time! See, the glass is half full! 🙂
It was Canada Day yesterday! It was nice to see all the flags in the neighbourhood, the spirit was certainly showing through. The weather seemed to clear just in time for the fireworks. Of course, I am old and tired so I was in bed by that point in time. Not sleeping of course, just watching the light on the smoke detector. Muggles, one of the three felines in the house, can sense if I am not sleeping and takes it upon himself to scream in my face. That certainly doesn’t help. Anyone want a cat?
Jackie continues to work most weekends on a project at work. She had Canada Day off but has to work today and Monday. The end of the project is in the next couple of weeks so maybe things will get back to normal soon.
I did my first post race run on Thursday. It felt pretty bad. My legs were still heavy and a touch sore. Earlier today I ran again and it felt much better. I am not 100%, but getting there. My biking legs seemed fine all week. Running just takes a lot out of you. This past week I travelled 201 kilometres during my training. Yes, that was a slow week. Yikes! Seven weeks until the full Ironman!
See you at the finish line….
Friday June 23rd
My weekend began with the drive up to Mont Tremblant. Jackie and I stopped in Brockville to pick up my Mom as an added supporter and equipment manager, lol. I was lucky to get to relax in the back seat for part of the drive as Jackie drove. I was incessantly checking the weather report, and it didn’t look good. It was 100% chance of rain with thunderstorms. We arrived at the Fairmont hotel a little after lunch and I was greeted with a cookie in the shape of an Ironman logo. Nice touch. They unloaded the luggage and took it to the room, and parked our car. Of course, it all came at a cost of $16 a day. All of this on top of the $300 a night room rate. This place is not cheap.
We walked down the hill and I got into the line to register and pick up all the race goodies. It took about 20 minutes once you got to the front. I had to get weighed. It felt like cattle to the slaughter! The weight thing is for safety reasons as when you finish the race the medical team can tell how dehydrated you may be. When I came out of the registration building the line was already getting extremely long. I was lucky to have gone through when I did.
I put on my bike gear and headed out for a 1.5 hour ride. I rode the entire run course, just to see what it was like. The majority of the run is on a paved path that is very nice. All of the kilometer markings were already painted on the road, they are very prepared for the racers. I managed to not get too wet, but my bike was a mess. I had just had it tuned up and cleaned so it was disheartening. I managed to wipe it down in the room. It almost looks as good as new.
We went out for dinner to a place called “The Shack”. It was nothing special, but we were all hungry and it hit the spot. Lying in bed I was thinking that this would be the only sleep I would get this weekend. Tomorrow night, being the night before the race, I will likely be up all night.
Saturday June 24th
I began the day looking for a cup of Starbucks coffee in the village. I was there an hour before it opened. I walked around and took some pictures and watched the sprint (shorter distance triathlon). When I went back for coffee the line was 50 people deep. I didn’t need coffee that bad. I did a final bike, run, and swim. Each of them was very short but served the purpose of getting my head in the game and loosened up. In the afternoon, I racked my bike at the 2pm scheduled time and listened to mandatory safety briefing. There was a huge bike accident at this race last year that sent 18 people to the hospital so there have been some modifications to the passing rules on the larger hills. We had dinner in the hotel room, the typical pasta pre-race dinner. It was nice to not have to go to a restaurant and sit around. I wanted as little interaction with others as possible at this point. The anxiety level has increased tenfold.
Sunday June 25th (Race day)
Setting an alarm for 4:15 is hard. As it turned out I didn’t need it. I was up at 3:15am and laid there waiting for it to ring an hour later. I got up and put on my tri suit for the race. I had one piece of toast with plenty of almond butter on it. In fact, it would be more accurate to say I have almond butter with a bit of toast. We walked down to transition and I took my pre-marked bags to my bike and setup my area. I should have taken a picture of my space in transition to give you an idea of how much crap a person can store in such a small area allotted to us. I put my water bottles on my bike and pumped up my tires on last time. The air held in the tires and a breathed a sigh of relief. We walked to the swim start (about a 15 minute walk I should add) and found a picnic table to sit at. We arrived just before the crowd. If we had been a few minutes later we would have been standing for the next hour waiting for the swim leg to start. I had brought my headphones hoping to get into a zone with some music but I was somewhat Zen at that point.
After putting on my wetsuit, which should be an event on its own, I went down to the practice area. I got about 200m of swimming in, just back and forth amongst the other competitors. I was told that the warm-up area would be closed at 6:45, but that was not the case. People were using the warm-up swimming area right until the race began. I self-seeded in the 41-44 minute group. This seemed to be a bit of a joke. There were 2500 competitors all squished into a small area. I had people beside me saying they planned on swimming in a 60 minute time, and another saying he was aiming for 30 minutes. The real anxiety began here. For one, being surrounded by so many people all deadly serious was intimidating. I tried cracking a joke but there wasn’t much laughter. It was at this point that I first said “WTF am I doing here”. I spotted Chris, another training partner from Kingston and made my way over to him. This helped immensely as we talked about race strategy, goals, family, etc. I find when I can talk and get out of my own head I settle down and having a friend there really helped. A fighter jet flew over. We heard it but couldn’t see a thing as it was too overcast at that point. There were fireworks and then the race began. The Pros went first and then it was our turn. It felt like forever until I got to the front of the line. They let four people in at a time every two seconds.
The actual swim went well. I was calm and composed. About 500m in I got kicked on the head. It didn’t hurt, it was just shocking more than anything else. I didn’t see it coming. After a momentary check that I still had my googles I continued on. I swam on the right side of the markers as there was less traffic. I got to the first red marker. This was a turn marker and where the traffic really piled up. It took a bit of finesse, but it was uneventful. I was shoulder to shoulder with another guy for the next 200m. With each breath to my left side he was right there, lol. Finally I got hit in the face from his hand. It was only a matter of time. Again, I survived. The swim back towards shore was smooth and uneventful. As I stepped out of the water I looked at my watch. 38:50 (official race time of 39:08). Wow! Better than I had hoped for and I wasn’t winded or wounded in any way. It was a successful swim! I let the wetsuit strippers undress me, grabbed my wetsuit in hand and ran to transition. Jackie and Mom were along the way cheering! The run was on a red carpet that was easy on the feet!
It was time to conquer the hills of Mont Tremblant. I was concerned that I might be too cold on the bike but chose not to where anything but my tri suit. It was a good choice as I heated up pretty quickly. The climbing began right away with the trip up Monte Ryan. I settled into a good pace and just concentrated on consistency. Some people blew past me (must have been slower swimmers, never thought I would say that!) and I also passed many. Honestly it was hard not obey the drafting rules. There are just too many competitors out there. Especially on the uphill segments where it felt like a parking lot. I checked my watch a few times and was always going faster than 32 km/hr. Happy with that speed I just kept chugging away. I was braver than usual on the descents and stayed in my aero position. I reached the turn-around in Labelle and headed back towards Mont Tremblant. I was beginning to feel seat discomfort at this point. Should I stop for a quick break or power through? I stopped. At one of the aid stations I got in line for a bathroom, grabbed a cliff bar, and stretched out my legs and back a bit. I was off the bike for 4 minutes and 15 seconds. Once I began riding again I felt 100% better. Key learning, breaks do help! After biking through the village and seeing Jackie and Mom cheering for me on the side of the road it was time to ascend the main mountain on Duplusis. I hate climbing on a bike. It takes me out of my comfort zone. To my surprise I passed many people. It turns out I am a good climber, but I still don’t enjoy it. My power to weight ratio is much better now that I have lost some weight. I made up lots of time on others going up the hill. The descent was fun, but nerve wrecking. I was grabbing the bars pretty tight! The newly installed “no passing zone” on the descent wasn’t an issue for me. I just jockeyed around prior to that zone to make sure I wouldn’t get held up by a slower rider. Total bike time was 3:00:13. I was happy with that considering I had stopped for a break.
Run (21.1k) 2:05:26 5:54:01
The sun came out! I slopped some sunscreen on and headed out for the ½ marathon. I ran past my cheering squad at the top of the first hill coming out of the village. My pace for the first kilometer was a little too quick to sustain so I slowed it down a touch. I wanted to maintain just under 6 minute kilometer pace. I ran up through the village and finally onto the paved trail. The good news is that it was shaded in places. The bad news is that you are surrounded by trees for most of it so it is monotonous. There is nothing to occupy your mind so you can’t click off kilometers mindlessly. You know you are running. I hot the turn-around point in 58 minutes. That is when the mental math started. If I maintain this pace I will finish at this time. If I go faster I can get yet another finish time even faster. I can slow down and still be under 6 hours in total. It kept me busy mentally. I stopped at each aid station and forced myself to drink or eat a little something. I think in the end that was a good strategy as I didn’t bonk during the run, it felt reasonably controlled. The last 4 k was tough. I thought more than once that I wasn’t sure running twice this distance in August would be possible. I did not like running up that final hill to get back into the village, but it then allows you to run downhill and through the finish line looking stronger than you actually feel. My legs felt fresher than they did a few months previously when I did a stand-alone ½ marathon. My run time was 2:05:26.
I finished with a time of 5:54:01. This was about 50 minutes faster than my other attempt at the ½ iron distance. A huge improvement! I was really happy with my performance and I knew I had some left in the tank. I left there thinking I must be crazy to think I can do twice the distance in less than two months’ time. My only solace is that I know if I go slower, I can go longer. It will be all about the pacing.
I had awesome support from my race team of Jackie and Mom. They carried bags, made food, updated Facebook, got up early, and stood around for hours just to watch me pass in the blink of an eye! I also had great support from my co-workers and online friends and relatives. It helps to keep me motivated!
See you at the finish line…..
There are fourteen more days until I start my race season with my ½ Ironman in Mont Tremblant. This week I received numerous emails about the race. There has been instruction on how to sleep, what to eat, how to reduce anxiety, and most importantly how not to die during the race. I need to decide where to seed myself in the swim start. They have created time brackets based on your swim speed and we have been asked to estimate our speed. Many games can be played with this process. If you claim to be slow it gives you the opportunity to pass others and will and likely have no one pass you by swimming on top of you. I wonder how many people will go that route? You could also simply pick the group that best represents your time (there’s a novel thought). We are a competitive bunch so I am sure head games will be involved.
I will be in the 50-54 age category. That came as a bit of a surprise as my goal was to finish my first Ironman before I was 50. Did I lose year? No, they calculate your age group based on the year of your birth, not the month and the year. Being at the low end of that age range is typically a bonus. It is known as “aging up” to the next group. Kind of like the young rookie in the crowd, at the age of 50, lol.
The physical training is all but completed for this race. I have done what I can and have made lots of good deposits into the “fitness bank” over the past months. Long rides, long swims, long runs, all of it behind me. Yes, I do have a couple more weeks of training for this week but I figure next week I will be tapering and the mileage will tail off.
So, all that is left is the mental preparation. Sleep is important. I know for a fact that I will not sleep the night before I race. It just doesn’t happen. Too much anxiety and nerves. I will need to get a few good nights of sleep before the night before the race to make sure I am rested up. The fear of underperforming and pressure is also very real. It is just a race in the grand scheme of things, but I do have an entire blog dedicated for this purpose so it is hard to ignore the significance. The blog keeps me accountable to all of those that read it, but it also highlights my weaknesses as well. My mental preparation is a weakness. It is two weeks out, I am already stressed. I need to get some more long open water swims completed so I can feel confident that I can do it come race day.
This past week I travelled 253 kilometres during my training. It was a very windy week on the bike. Good conditions to toughen me up, but I am sincerely hoping there isn’t this much wind in two weeks.
See you at the finish line….
Is anyone else wondering when summer will arrive? It is not that it is necessarily cold outside, although it has been on occasion, but more that we haven’t had a good hot day yet. It also seems like what good weather we have tends to happen through the week when we are stuck working inside. I am usually complaining about a sunburn but no worries about that this year.
On Saturday morning I got up and prepared myself mentally for a long bike ride. On the training schedule it said “Bike 3:30”. I think it would have been more preferable if it had meant at 3:30am, but no such luck, it was referring to duration. I went out to the garage to find that my back tire was flat. Couple of pumps of the pump and it went flat again. Not the best start to the ride. At least it happened at home. I changed the tire, washed my hands, and stood looking at the bike. It was not an insignificant moment. Recall a few months back when I needed help to change the tire on my van, well I managed this one all on my own. I know, simple things amuse me. In all honesty it was good training for the upcoming races as no outside assistance is allowed or you get disqualified. It was time to ride. I headed west and then north. The first hour of the ride was into the wind and I found myself in Yarker. My legs were burning and my hands were frozen. I secretly yearned to be back in bed with the cats. Once I headed back east towards Hwy 38 I got into a groove. I was able to maintain a good speed of 35 kms/hr and once again thought this Ironman thing might be possible. I returned on Unity Road and connected with Battersea before heading back west into the wind. I made it back home after 3:27 minutes of riding and approximately 100kms in the training bank.
Sunday morning came early with a group swim at Artillery Park. It was an endurance set, which is code from the coach that you should prepare for it to hurt. After a stop at Starbucks and a few scrambled eggs, I put on my running shoes and headed out for the long run of the week. This week’s musical accompaniment was courtesy of Bon Jovi. I passed through the downtown core to find that there was a race about to start! If I would have had enough money for an entry fee I may have joined in! I continued my run solo as I watched the skies. It was threatening rain the entire run. I finished my long run a little before lunch. The training run was 21 kms, or a half marathon distance. I never would have thought I would be doing training runs at a half marathon distance, but there it is.
The 1/2 Ironman is three weeks away from today. Gulp. I need to get some more open water swims on the schedule! I travelled 211 kms this week during my training.
See you at the finish line….
I have often talked about living on the water. The peaceful morning views of a quiet lake would be very good for the soul. Also, it would provide a good training location for open water swimming. So, what’s the next best thing to owning a house on a lake? Well, that would be having friends that own a house on a lake! Laura and Graham were gracious enough to invite Jackie and I up to their house on Varty Lake last night. It gave me the opportunity to do my first short open water swim of the season. Most of the lakes in the area are probably still too cold for swimming but Varty Lake is not as deep as most. That means that it was warmer than expected. I loved swimming in their lake as it was quiet so I didn’t have to worry about boats whizzing past my head. After my quick swim, we sat on the point in front of a fire and enjoyed a beverage and the company of our hosts. They have given me an open invitation to swim whenever I like. They may regret that offer in time. They may find me on their shore more often than they think!
After returning from the Mont Tremblant training camp last week my legs felt quite heavy. It took a few days to feel limber again. The relatively flat roads of Kingston were a welcome sight! I did a couple group rides this week. The hills on the first ride seemed easy compared to last weekend’s mountains! On Saturday morning we practiced some pace lines. The group lined up two by two and drafted. This allows the entire group to move faster through the wind. It is a great sensation until it is your turn at the front of the pack!
This past week I travelled 194 kilometers during my training. The nicer weather has certainly helped!
This weekend I made a trip up to Mont Tremblant for a triathlon training camp. The camp was put on by IronStride, the group I am part of. I took Friday off work and made the drive through the Laurentian’s and to my hotel. After getting into the room and unpacking it was time to start the training. The hotel had no power as a big storm knocked out all the power the night before. I was happy to have missed the storm, and even happier I wasn’t biking in it. The afternoon consisted of a 2 hour ride and a 30 minute run. The bike course loop was very hilly. I should have expected that as we were in the mountains after all. It was a real test of my biking ability. After some stretching, we did a short group run.
I had dinner with the group at the hotel. It was a good meal and gave me the opportunity to meet the others and hear about their journeys. It is interesting how diverse the group is. There are youngsters, and then older people like myself. There are also all types of abilities in the camp. Some of the participants are world class cyclists, and it shows. It was good to learn everything I could from them throughout the weekend.
The next two days consisted of more of the same. Each morning we did a hour and half swim at 7am. We the went back to the hotel and had a quick breakfast before heading out for a long day of biking. Each day was over 100kms on the bike. My ass may never be the same. It was good to experience the Ironman course in its entirety on the last day. My Garmin watch confirmed I hit a new top speed of 71 km/hr going down one of the hills. Yikes! It will help with understanding when to change gears and went to push hard. The mountain climb is at the end of the bike leg, making it tough.
Overall it was a great training experience. I picked up lots of tips and built some good muscular endurance in the process. During the past week my mileage was up over 300kms during my training. I am hoping for a light week of workouts this week, I need some recovery!
See you at the finish line….
Once a year we celebrate Mother’s Day. It is a running joke that every other day of the year is Father’s Day, but there is some truth in the statement. I have precious memories of my youth and the joy that my Mother brought into the house. Mom worked shiftwork to help to provide for our family. She would then get home and continue to work tirelessly packing our lunches for school, making sure we got out of bed on time, and ensuring we had matching socks on. She also spent hours cutting Dad’s long flowing hair. We never had loads of money when I was growing up, but I would never have known it. Mom spoiled my brother and I with everything we could ever want. I never left the house hungry and I always knew I had a safe place called home to come return to at the end of every day. She would often reach into her purse as we were leaving and give us some money, saying “Don’t tell your father”. Childhood was a great time.
I was a great teen and caused no problems at all for my Mother during those years that are often trying for a parent. I just love the power of the pen! Mom is great with technology, but she has yet to figure out how to write a blog so I think my teen stories are safe from the internet for now. Dad on the other hand spends hours looking at the settings on his cell phone, changing something here and there, and then never being able to get the thing to work again! That is a story for another post. Just to set the record straight, I didn’t make mud pies with the neighbor’s jug of milk. I didn’t kick my shoe through the neighbor’s window, braking the glass. I didn’t drop the water balloons from the seventh floor on the old lady. I did however get hit with a wooden hand (it was called Mom’s helping hand and was purchased from Santa’s village) for punishment for these deeds that I was most certainly innocent of!
As Mom became a Grandma I got to witness how she once again pampered a new young mind. It brought me back to my childhood and gave me a new appreciation for just how wonderful a caregiver she is! If great grandchildren ever arrive I can watch it all over again.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom!!!
My training continues to move along at a good pace. This past week I travelled 200kms as I swam, biked, and ran. Next weekend I am at a training camp in Mont Tremblant.
See you at the finish line…
Every time I sign up for a race, it rains. As I sat in the van barely able to see the street in front of me I thought back to the 1/2 marathon I did in Washington a couple years back. It poured out the entire race. I thought the silver lining was that I would never have conditions as bad again for a race. Back to present day. At the start line the wind and rain coming at me sideways I wished I was back in Washington. At least it wasn’t cold! It was one degree at the race today.
I had another visit to the physiotherapist after more knee pain earlier in the week. On Wednesday I was doing some hill work and tweaked it yet again. My plan was to run the first 5k and if there was bad pain call it a day. I have to stay focused on the “A” race for my season, the full Ironman in Mont Tremblant. If I have to take a week off from training that would not be good. It is all one big balancing act. After 5k with the adrenaline flowing, I felt no pain. I was clicking off the kilometres at a 5:15 – 5:25 pace, feeling good. I knew tougher times were ahead, closer to the end of the race. Jackie found a spot along the course and was able to provide me with some much needed fluids! All I could think of was stealing her winter coat, but that would hardly be practical, lol.
The final 3 kms things started to get hard. The legs were heavy and no longer wanted to turn over. I just focused on one foot in front of the other. Of course, it also decided to rain even heavier as I felt my worst! I finished the race in 1:57:58 based on my watch time. It was about 10 minutes quicker than last year on the same course, and the conditions were much worse. Overall a successful run to start the season.
The knee pain never flared up. I know I will be stiff tomorrow, but I hope my knee feels normal. Things like this get into your mind, and I don’t need more things in my mind! I travelled 85 kms during my training this past week. There were a few off days as I rested up for today’s race.
See you at the finish line….