Friday, December 26, 2008

Time To Think Of Nothing But Family

Amber and I have had a wonderful Christmas so far, other than some stomach cramps AD is feeling today. No more popcorn with butter for her, it happens every time. We arrived in Jasper Thursday night and were exhausted from some white-knuckle driving. I'm used to it but Amber seemed a little tense; she's not used to driving at night and throw in some icy roads and big semi's and she was pretty nervous. We had a little wine at the apartment in Jasper just to unwind (a little too much for me) but woke up feeling okay. I had to work on Friday so AD spent the day walking/running Harley, it was brutally cold -30+ but he always has fun no matter what the weather. I finished up work and felt a little stir crazy so I took him out for an hour run on some of the awesome trails around town. He was having a ball but when he's off-leash he tends to do his own thing and I spend half the time calling out for him and trying to get him to come back. It was a spectacular run though, we climbed for 30 minutes and got to the top of a lookout overseeing the entire town and an incredible mountain view. I didn't realize how cold it was because when I got home the tip of my big toe had some serious frost bite. It's still a little numb but there shouldn't be any long term damage.

The rest of the weekend we had a fantastic time exploring some of the x-country ski trails and thoroughly wore out Harley. He was in his glory, off-leash and running from side to side, in the woods, out of the woods, running with us, looking for other animals to terrorize. The only time we really had any trouble was when we saw some other skiers with a dog that he had to go bug. We know he's only wanting to play with them but he's SO ROUGH that other dogs get a little scared when he's around. We'll learn to socialize him with other dogs, it's just going to take a little time.

Tuesday we made the trip to Calgary to spend Christmas with my family this year. It was nice to see everyone and spend a little time in our old home town. My family hasn't changed, they are still as happy as ever (the exception being my niece Natasha, she's 14 and just a little hellion). Christi (my sister) says she is going for counselling to try work through some of her issues. We spent some time with Emma (my other niece) and Jake (my little 14 month nephew), he's really strong and is running around getting into everything! So cute though. It was a great Christmas and made me realize that as much as I can get caught up in training, racing, working and travelling, the most important thing in the world to me is my little family. Getting Harley has really made me think of our little household as a "family" and I've made a lot of new-year's goals but the most important one is to make sure Amber and Harley know how much I love them everyday.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Let Go Of My Lungs!!!

It's been well over a week now and this cold just will not release it's hold on my lungs. I took the entire week off and decided to go out for a little jog on Saturday morning with Harley just to see how I felt. I've been coughing like crazy all week and this weekend but I just needed to get moving again. We started out okay and Harley was running beside me at a good pace but after the first mile I felt myself slowing down. I was struggling to breathe and my muscles felt like they were being suffocated. It was the strangest feeling I've ever had, I was moving slower than I ever have before but every step made running harder and harder. I was running through water and breathing through a straw. I finally slowed to a walk after 4kms and I think Harley was disappointed in me, he normally loves running at my pace but today I just didn't have it.

I decided to skip our group ride as well, the last thing I needed was a tough Coach Troy session while not being able to breathe but Amber had fun with a couple other hardcore riders. They were "bending crank arms" while I laid on the couch, arrgh! I hope all this rest means I'm going to come back stronger in the new year.

After they finished Amber and I watched the IM world championships, we both wished we were back there and relived the experience again. It was such a great race and incredible to see so many strong athletes especially considering we both know how hot and humid it was. We know what it's like to race in conditions like that, Kentucky was very similar, although without the trade winds which made it A LOT harder for the athletes on the bike out there. Great race for Craig Alexander and Chrissy Wellington, two phenoms that found something special that day.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Little Under The Weather

I just arrived back from TO late Friday night and after three days of travelling and meetings it was really, really nice to see Amber and Harley again. We normally have our national conference or western conference during the first week of December and this year was no different. A lot of boring fund managers and a lot of trying to explain what's happening in the markets and how long they think it will last. I guess everyone has their own opinion but I think that once Obama is officially inaugurated things will start to pick up again. Slowly at first but things will get back to normal in the markets again.

Amber and I had our usual bike session in the basement and this one was tough for me to get through. I woke up feeling really rough, I could barely talk and my throat was killing me. It was a fairly easy session but after two hours my knees were really hurting, that's when I knew I needed to take it easy. I obviously picked something up on the plane or in TO somewhere. At least I'm back home with my happy little family, I can handle anything with Amber around.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Delinquent Blogger

Yes it's been a while since my last post but it seems that in the winter the focused training just isn't there. It's okay (and actually healthy) not to be too dedicated in training this time of year but this week I completely took a break. I did my usual 90 minute run with Harley on Sunday but after that, I didn't do a thing until Friday. I was on the road for most of the week so I didn't beat myself up too much for taking time off. I thought I might get in a couple swims this week but I'm in the middle of taking a course and the combination of studying and working eats up the majority of the day.

It was nice to come home Thursday night to Amber and Harley, I always miss them when I'm away. Harley and I had our usual Friday night run and I'm making progress in teaching him to run along side me and not freak out every time he sees another dog. Amber is the best 'doggy momma' she really does a lot of research and education about dog training and it's helpful to learn from her. He's a real happy member of our family and we love having him in our lives.

Today we went out for a group run with the GP running club and Harley loves running with the everyone. He soaks up the attention and is in his element when he's running, he must be a Hunter!! After the run we had a group of 6 other athletes in our basement for the weekly trainer ride and we are getting real close to capacity. It's great to have everyone over but I would hate to have to turn people away, it's so nice to have other people around to keep you motivated when you are struggling. This week was an "Aero Base Builder" ride so it wasn't too bad. Everything was in the aerobic zone, which was great for me this week. We'll have two more weeks of focused training rides with everyone and then we decided to spend the weekend of December 19-22 in Jasper. Get Harley out in the mountains and try out some x-country skiing again!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Great Week of Training

This week was a good training week, I did quite a bit of biking and running during the week and one swim on Wednesday but the real tough day was today. I took Harley out in the morning to meet the Saturday morning running group and he was really funny to run with. He always needs to be in front and he's always really excited to be running with a group. All the guys like to have him around as much as he likes to hang with the boys. We did an easy 11km run and he was ready for more but I new I had a tough bike in our basement so I took it easy.

When we got home Amber had everything set up and ready to go, today was "Have Mercy part 2" and I knew it was going to be very, very tough. We had four other GP triathletes join us in our basement for the 2 hour workout but they started dropping like flies after an hour and a half. In the end it was just Amber, myself, and Robert another hardcore athlete with a great love for triathlon. Coach Troy really made us suffer today, 2 hours of some tough and long intervals (without a lot of rest) and it was capped off with some power sets, ouch!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekend Fun With Other GP Athletes

This weekend was great, Amber and I met up with the Grande Prairie running crew on Saturday and had an awesome time hanging out with a group of great athletes. We went for a little 12km run at 8:30am and afterwards had a meeting with about 20 other triathletes at a local coffee shop. They really want to start a tri-club here in town and based on the interest, it should take off very quickly. They also want to get a race back and so far it's a go for May 17th!! That would be great and Amber and I are there to support any triathlon interest in 'red neck central.' I have to say I'm getting a little used to it and actually enjoying it, there are some terrific people here it just takes a while to see through the rough Grande Prairie exterior.

After the run we had four people join us at our place for a sufferfest courtesy of coach Troy. 90 minutes of pain, "totally time trial" was the workout and all 6 of us were hurting afterwards. There's always something nice about suffering with other people, it makes it seem like your pain isn't as bad.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Running With a New Training Partner

Well it's been a week since we got Harley and it definitely has been fun. I feel a little bad at times because Amber takes on the brunt of all the work but he's a good dog and a great companion to both of us. I took him for his first run with me on Friday and he is really, really excited at the beginning but tends to tire out after about 12kms. He can hold on for a little while but by 14kms I'm dragging and urging him to "keep going! Only 1km left Harley!"

I thought he might just have been tired that day so I took him out again on the same route on Sunday and just like clockwork, right at 14kms he slows down almost to a crawl. He's a very strong dog with a lot of energy but I'm definitely going to work on his endurance over the next couple of months. I know he has the ability to run 25-30kms with me, I just need to have him learn to; "pace yourself Harley, pace yourself." It's been a lot of fun having him around and I think he probably thinks Amber and I are a little crazy because we dote on him so much but we both love having him around and it adds an entirely new dynamic to our typically serene lives.

Saturday we had a group of three other riders join us in our basement for an easy spin. It's nice to meet some other triathletes in the area and for such a small community I'm quite surprised to see a great group of people who love to train. I'm trying to make it a regular Saturday session and so far we are in week 3. I need to have that extra motivation of having other people around to push me in order to get through the long-cold winter here. I've still been running outside but I'm really glad we bought a treadmill, things are getting pretty cold already and training with other people helps me keep the winter weight off!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

New Addition to the Family!!!

Only two weeks into our marriage and AD and I are welcoming a new addition, Harley. He's a beautiful 2 year old Boxer/ Lab cross who is really, really well behaved and such an incredible joy to have in our lives. It took Amber to convince me to agree to having a dog but after she found him on-line and I saw his picture, I relented. He looked like the perfect addition to our little family!

When we met him he was perfect, very well behaved but very independent. He will run all over the place out of sheer curosity but he never causes any trouble. He gets along with other dogs and children and seems to love his new home. We are going to try to be the best new parents we possibly can but it's always a little scary at first. Fortunately we have an incredibly well behaved dog who I think is going to love our lifestyle, he definitely is a dog who needs a lot of exercise.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Saturday Suffering

This morning was the second week of hard training courtesy of Coach Troy and it was one of the toughest sessions I have ever done!!! I woke up and met a few of the Grande Prairie running crew for a good steady 7 mile run and it was nice to hang out with some like minded athletes. Everyone is really friendly and they are an unbelievably committed group. They said they run all winter; rain, snow, sleet, whatever. The toughest run last year was a -30 degree 1 hour run and quite a few of them showed up. That's dedication!

It was just AD and myself for the spin at 10am and it was a 2 hour sufferfest called "Have Mercy" and that's exactly what I was saying about an hour into it. I was absolutely soaked with sweat and there was a huge puddle under my bike. My legs were absolutely screaming for the full 2 hours. Coach Troy knows how to mix it up and he is an expert at not allowing you to fully recover before ramping up the pain again. One of the toughest sets was a five minute effort of 4 seconds all out, 4 seconds rest. You would think 4 seconds is not a big deal but by the end the constant acceleration and deceleration you are ready to puke! When there was 30 minutes left I was hoping that the pain would stop but in fine Coach Troy fashion he kept us hurting until the final 2 minutes! Tomorrow is a long run and it'll be interesting to see how my legs are going to respond I'm going to give it my best effort but it'll be a slow and steady effort.

Congrats to my good buddy Chris Daniel who posted a 9:34 in Ironman Florida, amazing!! Great job Chris! Unbelievable considering he wasn't sure if he'd ever be able to compete in another Ironman again because he has no meniscus in his left knee.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Back In The Groove

Well it's the first weekend back from Hawaii and I must have been motivated by seeing all the pros tear it up in the World Championships because I felt like I was making progress again. Two swims Wednesday and Friday 3kms each and an hour spin on Wednesday and Thursday. Yesterday was the first weekend of our Grande Prairie winter bike training. AD and I had one joiner, Duncan, he spun with us for a little bit but after 50 minutes he left and Amber and I killed ourselves with some threshold training thanks to Coach Troy's spinervals. It's been a while since my legs felt like that but I know those sessions are going to pay off big time this year. We came up with our 2009 schedule and the theme next year is "local" and "speed." We're keeping races somewhat closer to home after four big trips this year and spending a year working on speed will help us come back to IM stonger and faster. Also we need to spend some more time on projects around the house, it was a little neglected this year because of all the training and recovery.

Today was a long run, 90 minutes 22kms and it was very, very tough. I could tell I'm not in running shape but a few more workouts like that and I'll either be dead or incredibly fast. I was averaging 155-160BPM and I was a little worried I would blow up after 40 minutes. I was starting to really hurt at about an hour but I managed to struggle home. I had to really push myself for the final 3kms but just kept telling myself, "don't stop, don't stop, just keep moving." A couple more long runs like that and I'll be back on track.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Some Cool Kona Pics

AD with the Ironman legend- Mark Allen

AD and me at the finish

Swim start

Andy Potts was first out of the water but he thought he was in an ITU race and kept running when he was supposed to be on his bike! Get on your bike Andy!

Our friend and a great pro, Kyle Marcotte

Another legend, Natasha Badmann

Normann in his element, he had a great ride

He was leading the race at one point!

Chrissy Wellington was amazing! A ten minute delay because of a flat on the bike and she still blew away the competition.

After watching Craig Alexander run in last years' race I picked him to win this year. He is an absolutely incredible runner, 2:45 in 33 degree, high humidity weather. No one can keep up on the run!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Trip of a Lifetime

Amber and I just got back from Hawaii and it was an incredible trip, fun, adventurous, eye-opening, and life changing. The highlight of course was our wedding but we had so much fun everyday that we've both come back refreshed and ready to get back to work. Our wedding was beautiful, just the two of us on the North Shore of Ohau on the beach at sunset. The place was perfect, the setting was exactly what we were looking for and Amber was absolutely beautiful. We spent a lot of time taking pictures (seemed a bit like a photo shoot) but the service by Reverend Jim was perfect, not overly religious but enough to make you realize that our joining is going to be for life. We were both very moved and happy with the entire evening.

The rest of the time we had fun renting some road bikes and touring the island, going to the Polynesian cultural centre (which was a little to "touristic"), trying some surfing, boogie-boarding, and running along the beach. Hawaii definitely has a lot to offer and the weather is always, always good. I'm going to miss it but fortunately I have some fantastic memories with AD and a reason to go back in the future some time.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hawaii 2008- Kailua-Kona

After what had to be the longest trip ever, Amber and I made it to the promise land. We started out by getting up at 4:30am to catch our flight from Edmonton to Phoenix. There was a bit of a hold up with the ticket agent as she didn't know what she was doing but after about 30 minutes had everything figured out. That should have been a warning sign. We took off from Edmonton right on schedule without a hitch but when we arrived in Phoenix the pilot mentioned there was a lot of air traffic and we would have to remain in a holding pattern for a while. The only problem was that we didn't have much fuel so if we were there for more than an hour, we'd have to go to another airport. Luckily after half an hour circling we were able to land and fortunately catch our connecting flight to Kona.

The next flight was delayed for another 40 minutes while they tried to replace a burnt out light and noticed some other problems. The plane did look a little dumpy for a major American airline but we were so happy just to be on a flight to Hawaii, we didn't care. We were about an hour and a half into the flight just about to go over the Pacific when the captain mentioned he had some more bad news, the short-wave radio was not working and they couldn't go over water without it. We had to go back to Phoenix and get it fixed or get a new plane!

So back to Phoenix we went, tired, hungry, and not knowing when we would get to Hawaii. After another hour and a half in the Phoenix airport we boarded another plane and started out again. So far we'd been travelling 11 hours and my butt was really sore. This time we were off for good and 6 hours later we arrived in Kona! It was so nice to be there! All the crap of travelling for 20 hours was forgotten and we were happy to be in the promised land.

I met a fellow triathlete in the seat next to me, Paul, who was in the 50-54 age group from North Bay, Ontario and he qualified at Louisville. Way to go Paul. It was definitely tough out there. He was also an investment guy working with RBC.

Our condo in Hawaii was awesome, small but fully stocked with everything you need. We had a good night sleep and woke up bright and early at 6am (10am our time) and went to the pier to go for a swim. It was great hanging out on Ali'i drive, we ran into a bunch of pros and even stopped to talk with Sam Maglone and her coach (husband) Cliff English. Unfortunately she's not racing due to an achilles injury, I mentioned I had the same problem and she asked me what I did to rehab it. I told her go for A.R.T. as much as possible, that's the only thing that worked for me, thanks to my buddy Colin. Cool, Sam Maglone was asking my advice does it get any better.

Walking around town was a lot of fun, we saw Lisa Bentley, Peter Reid, Desiree Ficker and as I went to the store last night I saw Chris MacCormak look right at me as he ran by! Wow, how awesome is it being here!

We had a lot of fun doing non-triathlon related things as well. We rented some cruisers and they were great for getting around. We also rented some snorkel gear and it was so much fun swimming with the fish who were so tame that they didn't mind you swimming around with them. And the sea life here is so amazing! Every color of fish you can think of, Hawaii truly is a paradise!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Running for a Great Cause

Today AD had an opportunity to run the CIBC run for the cure to support breast cancer research and help find a cure for this terrible disease. Fortunately neither of our families have been affected by it but when you think of how widespread and horrible cancer is, we were happy to give any support we could. It was a small turnout but I was incredibly surprised and happy to hear our small community had raised $25,000! Way to go Grande Prairie!

It was really nice for both of us, Amber had a lot of her women who train with her running and I had a lot of people that work for CIBC there. We ran together in the cool and wet weather but had a great time enjoying a beautiful run through Muskoseepi Park and it turned out the 5km run was actually 7.7km. It was fine for me, total run from our house and back was 17km.

Tomorrow we leave for Hawaii! Well Edmonton tomorrow and then Hawaii on Tuesday. I'm offically in vacation mode, I'm super excited for our wedding it is going to be the greatest moment of my life. I get an opportunity to marry the woman of my dreams in the most beautiful place on earth. Watching the Ironman World Championships is going to be awesome, but getting married to AD is definitely the most exciting! I love you babe and I'm looking forward to many, many more incredible moments in our lives together.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fun Jasper Weekend

It was a great weekend in Jasper this past couple days. Amber joined me on Friday night and a friend of ours, Alan joined us from Calgary and we had a terrific time hanging out together. Friday we went out for an awesome sushi dinner and had an early night.

Saturday it was raining and cold and the crew did not want to go mountain biking with me. I was super excited to get out there and bike some of the trails, even if it was raining and cold. I'm glad I was able to convince Amber and Alan to get out there because it was so much fun! We were covered in mud and after we were moving we warmed up enough to keep going a while. We mapped out a new trail and it was a beautiful ride out to Maligne Canyon and back. The whole ride took about 3 hours and aside from stopping for pictures and a bit of sightseeing, we were biking most of the time. Amber and I definitely want to get mountain bikes when spring rolls around.

Sunday Alan was eager to get us into his "domain," we had a trail run planned. We took a drive out to Edith Cavell and it was a tough, tough climb. After about 30 minutes running straight up there was snow on the ground. It was cold but the sun was keeping us warm during the breaks and we were moving consistently enough to stay warm. We did some exploring in an incredible ice cave that had obviously been formed over hundreds of years of water erosion and it was amazing! All in all it was a great weekend with AD and Alan and I can't wait to go back.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Reconnecting With the Bike Trainer

Well the weather has turned a little cooler and gloomy, Saturday was beautiful and I did a little 50km ride outside. However Sunday and today have been cold and rainy and I've been on the trainer trying to put some power back in the old legs. Fortunately I received a bunch of Tour DVDs to keep things interesting, all of the Tours Lance did and a spinervals DVD to try and compensate for not being in bike class this winter.

Yesterday and today was Lance's first win in 1999 and I really enjoyed seeing him completely dominate the competion right after coming back from cancer. He is an incredible athlete and an inspiration to a lot of people out there. Any type of suffering I experience is not even one tenth of the pain and suffering he went through. I'm going to remember that this year and enjoy watching his tours in our basement and some of the epic battles with Jan Ulrich. His comeback this year is going to be incredible as well, good luck Lance you inspire me to push to become a better athlete year after year.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

It Feels Good To Get A Win In Our New Home!

Today was a great day I finally felt like this season has been an incredible success. After a somewhat disappointing Ironman a little 8km cross country race in little old Grande Prairie can renew your optimism and make you feel like all the work this year is worth it. Ironman is such an unforgiving race that you can work and work and work incredibly hard all year and then the day comes and you realize that it's just not your day or your race. It's very difficult to maintain your perspective and give yourself the credit you deserve. I've had a great season and I should be proud of myself but there is something about not feeling like you've performed your best in your focus race that is kind of a let down. However today I realized that I have made phenomenal progress this season and it came together with a win today.

Before the race I was very nervous, much more so than normal, there is an amazing triathlete up here named Trevor Kolkea who wins all the races and has had incredibly fast Ironman times. He was at the race and I knew that winning today was not going to be a foregone conclusion. He started the race so fast I was left in the dust in the first kilometer and I was really hurting just to maintain my "fast run" pace. Slowing but surely I inched my way closer to the two leaders, very, very slowly and by the 3km mark I was right behind them. They were going a little slower than my pace so I decided to stick to my own race and push past them. I didn't know if this was the right thing to do but if I was going to be beaten today I was going to give it everything I had!

It was a lot of suffering for the next 16 minutes and I was running scared but it was so nice to be in the lead and I was not going to give it up without a fight. It hurt like hell but I toughed it out and finshed with the win. Amber was going to take it easy but her competitive spirit came out and she won as well! Great job AD!

Run 7.5km; 26:49

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thanks Kevin!

At the pre-race dinner in Louisville Amber and I were on our way out when a guy behind me asked "Hey do you have a website?" I replied no but I do have a blog I update every once in a while. Turns out he has been following my blog for some time to try and gain some strength while doing the long workouts required for Ironman preparation. His name is Kevin and he's from Seattle and I recently received this note from him about his race in Louisville;

Hi Darin - thought I would drop a note post Louisville. I was the guy from Seattle that has been reading your blog for last ten months in prep for IML. Got to say it was strange to run into you and Amber given the thousand plus number of people in the room that night. As mentioned, I had been following only two blogs in my prep for Louisville - yours and a guy from here in Seattle that had been training for IM Couer d'Alene. Found them to be good reads.

Sounds like your race was much like mine, but faster. I had visions of sub 11 and ended up at more than 12 1/2. My swim which felt good in the water was off my 1:15 target. Course I could not see my watch two feet in front of me. The bike which I wanted a 5:45 ended up almost 20 minutes more. Found it impossible to get in groove and really just found myself trying to conserve energy for run. The run was basically a death march. Cramped up badly as soon as I got off the bike in both quad's and hamstrings and ended up power walking almost a full marathon. The run is normally my stronger of the three sports and while I new it would be difficult, could never have predicted what happened. Most of the time I tried to kick my run into gear and got nothing but continued cramping. In all honesty, aside from cramping my body was really not that tired at end of race since the run turned into more of a stroll.

It is just impossible to train/prepare for the oppressive heat and humidity that is Louisville when you live in Seattle, but finishing the race was my primary goal so I have to be happy with that.

Best of luck in future endeavours. Kevin

It was definitely tough out there Kevin, good for you for finishing and best of luck to you as wellin your future races. If you have a blog please send me the link and say hi to Rachel as well, hope her race was better.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Yes it's True- Lance is Returning to Cycling!

The greatest athlete ever has decided to return to professional cycling, Lance announced today that he is going to race in 2009 including the Tour de France. In my humble opinion its a big, big mistake. Most of us know that taking time off from training can really impact your performance but taking three years away from professional cycling is like starting all over again! Why Lance why! We all remember you has a phenomenal athlete having an incredible personal story coming back from cancer but I don't know what more he feels he needs to do in pro bike racing.

I wish you luck Lance and of course I'll still be your greatest fan, no matter what the outcome. At least the tour will be really exciting to watch again!

Lance's comeback 2009

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ironman Louisville 2008

It's hard to put into words one of the most difficult and trying times of your life but I'm going to do my best. My preparation for IM Louisville seemed to be absolutely perfect, I'd set PRs in every race leading up to it and was having the best racing year I'd ever had. I think my expectations going into the race were a little too optimistic, however I always want to go into a race feeling and thinking that I can handle anything that comes up.

As soon as Amber and I arrived in Kentucky and stepped off the plane we were hit with a huge wave of heat and humidity. We both looked at each other and went uh oh... how the hell are we going to handle this? We rested for most of the week, took in the expo, enjoyed some practice swims, rode a couple hours of the course and were very well prepared for whatever the day was going to bring.

I went to bed at 8:30pm and I slept very well until our 4:30am wake up. I showered, ate and made my way down to the transition. There were a lot of nervous athletes milling around, pumping up tires, loading the bikes with nutrition and limbering up for the swim. I pumped up Amber's tires and my tires, dropped the bike pump off at the hotel and made my way towards the swim start. The start of the race was about 3/4 of a mile from the transition at a dock beside towhead island. It was a time trial swim start which made life a lot better because you weren't being battered around by another 2000 swimmers around you. It took about 10 minutes to get to the start line and after crossing the timing mat all the nerves went away and it was time to get down to work. The feeling before an Ironman is hard to describe, imagine feeling like you are about to go through some of the worst physical pain you have ever experienced and you keep going back for more. I like to equate it to a fighter before he enters the ring, he knows what is waiting for him but he also knows the pain is temporary and the experience lasts a lifetime.

I dove into the water at 7:10am and started fairly steady and smooth and tried to get some distance from the few swimmers around me. The Ohio river was warm which was nice but it was so cloudy that I couldn't even see my own hands in front of me, let alone any other swimmers around me. About 15 minutes into it I ran into my first problem, my goggles started leaking. Arrghh! I had time to empty them and get back into it but they would fill up another four times throughout the swim which probably added another minute or two to my time. The swim out to the turn around was against the current and it felt like it took forever! I was swimming really, really hard and I was make progress on everyone around me but I couldn't believe how long I was in the water. I finally made the turn, didn't see my time because someone kicked my watch and changed the setting but I felt like I was on track for a 1hr swim. The swim back was supposed to be very fast because you are swimming with the current but again, it felt like it was taking quite a long time. I was getting very tired of being in the water by the time I passed the last bridge and I was thinking, "this swim has to be long!" When I exited I looked at my time and it was 1:10! How could I have been so slow? Turns out a lot of other people had really, really slow times so I think the distance was a little long.

I couldn't stop thinking about the poor swim time throughout the bike but I just kept telling myself that it's a long day and there is plenty of opportunity to make up time. I went through transition really smoothly, it was a long, long run from the swim exit to the change tent and the transition times reflect that but everyone had the same route to run. The start of the bike was great, it was flat and I was moving very fast. I felt great and was keeping my heart rate in zone 2, an effort I could hold for the entire 180kms. The first 60kms went by quickly and I was sticking to my nutrition plan, 4 salt tabs, two gels, one fruit bar, and two bottles of heed. I wanted to stay as hydrated as possible because I knew the heat of the day was coming and it was going to take the life right out of me very soon.

The entire bike ride was incredibly beautiful and if I wasn't racing I would really have enjoyed it. After the first 16kms the terrain was a lot harder than I anticipated. The climbs were not that steep or long but they were continuous, you just could not get into a rythmn at all. Just when you felt you were moving well, you would hit a hill and it would slow you right down. At 10:30 the heat and humidity started to take a toll it was 30 degrees by that time and I was getting more and more tired but I was still confident I was going to finish strong. The terrain, the heat, and the humidity were wearing on me and by the second loop of the bike at 112kms I could feel myself starting to bonk. I calmly assessed the situation and asked how I could hold off the impending 'blow-up' I was about to have. I knew I needed more calories so I started eating as much as I could when I was biking 35km/hr. Trying to eat when you are pushing yourself that hard is not easy you don't want to eat, you are choking on your food, and nothing tastes good. All you can do is put in as much as your body will let you. My legs were starting to cramp up, there was salt completely coating my body from constantly sweating and my stomach was doing flips from trying to digest everything I was shoving down my throat.

The last 60kms of the ride were absolute torture, I was doing my best to hold my pace but I could tell the temperature was starting to really wear me down. My training on the bike going into this race was great, I had several 180km+ rides and felt great on all of them. I didn't have a chance to train in 34 degree weather with 50% humidity and it started to show. My ability to push on the bike was drained out of my legs and I was in survival mode. I tried to give it everything I could but the wind picked up and I was now battling the heat, humidity, the terrain, the wind, and the dumb drivers out there that were trying to weave through the bike traffic. Unfortunately the road was not closed and there were a lot of cars and bike traffic during the second loop of the bike, it was a gong show. The last 30kms of the bike were slightly downhill or flat into transition and I wanted to get off my bike soooo much. My shoes were hurting my feet so badly that I was having trouble just turning the pedals over.

I finally made it into T2 in 5:33, 30 minutes slower than I had hoped but I threw my expectations into the wind at this point and I was just trying to survive. I spent a short time in transition, changed drank a little and ran out as fast as my legs would take me. At this point in the race my legs were screaming. I did not want to do a marathon, I didn't even know if I could survive another 42kms but I told myself to just take it one mile at a time and hopefully your legs will come around. After two miles I knew it was not going to be a good day, I had to walk through the aid stations and I was running very slowly when I did run. Everytime I tried to pick up the pace my stomach would cramp up and I was forced to walk again. I saw a lot of people out there doing the death march it was obvious the heat was not just affecting me but a lot of others out there too. I tried to cool myself with ice down my back and in my hat, sponges in my jersey, water on my head and face but nothing was going to bring me back from dehydration and calorie depletion. I was jogging and walking and finished the marathon in 4:08, about an hour longer than I was planning.

This race was incredible, well organized, great volunteers, an incredible city and a fantistic environment. I would definitely recommend it to anyone, but I would caution that prepping in a similar climate is absolutlely necessary if you want to do well. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to experience IM Louisville and I learned that I have the drive to get through so much termoil and torture and see it through to the end. I never once thought of dropping out but there were times when stopping and resting felt so good that I just wanted to stay there for a very long time. But just like life you have to get up, keep going and see things through to the end.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

One More Sleep

It's been a long time coming but tomorrow it's time to drop the hammer, the day I've been waiting for is tomorrow. I've been training hard for the entire year and I know I can't be any more prepared than I am right now. Amber and I went out for a brief swim-bike-run today just to keep the legs fresh and remember what it feels like. It was nice and cool this morning but now the sun is out in full force and 31 degrees here feels like 38. It's supposed to be 33 tomorrow but I'm hoping the heat won't be a major factor until the run, by that point I think I can handle it. The key for me is just to keep the emotions under control, drink, take in a lot of salt, eat continuously and use ice whenever I get the chance.

The one thing I love about Ironman is the fact that it is a real race of grit and determination. To be called a true Ironman you have to be not only tough but patient. It is an extremely tough race to do well in and although there are people who have a natural ability, I've always had to work very hard to make any progress. I'm very happy to be here and take part in this wonderful event I just know what suffering lies ahead and I have to prepare my mind to push through it tomorrow.

The plan for tomorrow is to push a little on the first part of the swim, just to find some open water and to get through the upstream portion of the swim. Then stay relaxed and take long powerful strokes while heading downstream. Remain relaxed and controlled during the first 45kms of the bike, taking in 3 salt tabs, one fruit bar, one gel and a bottle of heed. Keep the heart rate in zone 2 and only enter zone 3 on hills and when I need to pass, the next 45kms I'll take another 3 salt tabs, one fruit bar, two gels, and another bottle of heed. The next 45kms will include another 3 salt tabs, graham cookies, a fruit bar, a gel, and a bottle of noon. The final 45kms I'll have another 3 salt tabs, 3 gels, a bottle of water, and another bottle of noon. By the time I hit the run I should be okay, the legs will be a little juiced but I should be able to maintain a fairly comfortable 14km/hr pace and I'm going to rely on the aid stations for water, gatorade, coke, and ice. I'll have my own salt and I'll need another tab every 1/2 hour, which means taking in another 6 tabs. I usually don't run with a hat but in this heat it's going to be very helpful to be able to put ice in your hat which will hopfully last a few minutes between aid stations.

That's the plan, the important thing is not to give up on it when things get rough out there (and they most likely will). I'm going to try to stick to it, that's what helped me last year, the early calories I took in on the bike paid off later in the run. Be flexible as well, if I miss an aid station or forget to take something in, I won't abandon my strategy.

All I can do now is rest and wait for tomorrow, it feels like I've been waiting far too long but the countdown is almost over and I'm ready to rock!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Having Fun In Louisville

Amber and I made it to Louisville on Monday and other than a few mishaps; my bag was missing and we were booked into the wrong hotel, things are going really well. I did end up getting my bag the next day and we changed our hotel from the outskirts of the city to downtown. The people in Louisville are incredibly friendly and very helpful. It's a terrific town, full of life and very, very hot and humid this time of year.

Today we checked in and took a look around the expo, I bought Amber a speedsuit and picked up some other miscellaneous things we're going to need for Sunday. The defining thing for me this race is going to be making sure I stick with my nutrition plan. With the heat here I'm going to have to drink about 1L to 1.5L/hr and take 2 grams of salt/hr. That's a lot of salt! but I have a tendency to be hyponatremic so I definitely need it.

It's a great atmosphere in town today, the Ironmen have officially invaded and although it is a big city you can really tell that it is Ironman weekend coming up. Amber and I did a swim at the YMCA this morning and a brief bike to the shoe store to pick up some runners that she can actually run in. I'm extremely excited to get going but I have to keep the energy under control and we'll do an open water swim tomorrow and on Saturday and then it's time to GO! I'm number 1069, great number!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Let the Anxiety Begin

It's 10 days until go time and I always feel like I haven't done enough at this point before the race. Normally I'm really cool and relaxed the day or two before but now is when all the pre-race questions and doubts creep up. I know I've trained harder for this race than ever before, I know I've put in countless hours in the pool, riding the road, and running the trails but you still ask yourself; what else could I have done? The only thing I could think of would mean quitting my job and becoming a full-time triathlete but that just isn't possible nor really what I want to do.

I love this sport because of how I feel from training and the enjoyment I get out of living a healthy lifestyle. I think if it was my full-time job I would still enjoy it but training would become more of a chore and I would probably burn-out. Amber and I started training for this race in October and everyday since then Louisville has been in the back of my mind as my goal race this year. Some of what will happen out there is out of my control, weather (heat and humidity are brutal there), course profile, other athletes being too aggressive. All I can do is prepare as much as I possibly can and give everything I got on the day.

I know all I need to do now is rest and fully recover but the nerves sometimes get the better of me and I feel like I need to keep training hard. I'm conscious of not overdoing it and I've slowed down on any training I've been doing. Yesterday was an easy 3km swim in the morning which felt really good, and easy one hour spin in the evening while watching last year's IM world championship. I need to compete there this October, it's going to be a life goal checked off.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Slowing Down The Run

This past weekend was tough, energy was low and I couldn't execute the workouts I had planned. Saturday I planned to do a long ride, 180kms and it turned into a shorter ride, 90km followed by a brief t-run 20 minutes. Sunday I planned on doing a long run but I think the heat has been sapping my energy because I could only do a 30 minute open water swim and I was extremely exhausted. We did have the opportunity to hang out with family at the lake though, that's something we haven't really done with every weekend being accounted for with training.

I blew off the swim this morning but I'll get in there tomorrow morning, I wanted to have enough energy to have a good run today. I arrived back home from work a little earlier than normal and I was eager to get out in the heat and practice somewhat of what it'll be like in Louisville. I wore a 2L camelback and I'm really glad I did, I kept taking little sips during the 2 hours and I felt pretty good. I didn't have the anticipated 'crash' I usually do on long runs that are this hot but things did cool off considerably during the second half. The last 5K I had a nice light rain to bring me home.

There is a beautiful trail at the end of Muskoseepi park and from our house it's about 10.5km to get there. I had so much fun on the trails and I was treated to a great change. The nearby construction closed down a section but fortunately they cleared a new section, it was about 2 or 3 degrees cooler on the trail, probably because the heat isn't beating off the pavement and I felt great. I was going a little slower than normal but I wanted to find a pace that was sustainable for Ironman. Lately I'm been out there killing myself on every run and I needed to know that I have the ability to feel pretty good for just over three hours (or hopefully just under). I'm pretty sure I can sustain 14km/hr which is a 3 hour marathon, we'll see what the day brings.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Learning to be Patient

Well today didn't quite go as planned I wanted to do a 180km ride at race pace as a final tune up before Ironman. It didn't quite happen. This week I've taken three days off (unheard of for me) the amount of work and travelling I've been doing hasn't afforded me the time to train. Monday I was in Paddle Prairie (7hrs driving), Tuesday in Peace River (2hrs driving), Wednesday in High Level (2 and 1/2hrs driving), and Thursday back home to Grande Prairie (4hrs driving). That's a lot of time on the road but that seems to be the way of life around here. I'm getting more used to it but it still eats into my free time when I usually do my training.

Although I'm feeling a little nervous about my prep, I've done what I need to do to be successful in Louisville. I've put in a lot of hard training not only this summer but throughout the winter and spring as well. Friday I woke up early and went for a 3km swim in my new blue seventy swimskin, it felt great and I was really motivated by watching the fantastic Olympic swimming. Those men and women are so fast it's hard to imagine moving through the water like that. I did my best to try to imitate Michael Phelps but didn't come close to any of his times, not a surprise.

Friday afternoon I wanted to do a tempo run and I managed to get in a 59 minute 15km but it hurt like hell and my heart rate averaged about 160bpm. The heat was really taking it's toll on me, but I was doing my best to try and keep going. I'm going to have to get used to this as soon as possible, the average temperature in Louisville this time of year is between 26 and 33 degrees.

Today my legs were feeling the effort of yesterday's run and I knew in the first hour that I wasn't going to be able to do a six hour ride today. I told myself not to worry about it and I'm not going to gain some incredible strength I never had before, all the hard work has been done already. So I completed a 92km loop in 2:37 and went for a short 5km T-run in 20:37. I'm okay with the shorter workout today. Amber and I did some neglected yard work and went for a nice lunch, some of the things we're usually too tired to do after a long training day.

One thing I've noticed with my running in the heat, I'm really going to have to slow my pace down. I'm used to running about 15kms/hr, I can do that in the hot weather but it takes a severe toll on my body and there is no way I could sustain that for a marathon. I'm going to race smart and slow it down for the first half of the run and if I have anything left for the last half I'll let it go.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Training for Speed

Well after spending a lot of time driving the past few days I finally got back on track today and spent a little time doing some speed work. The past weekend was a bit of a write off for training, we were at a wonderful wedding for Amber's cousin. I only managed a 52 minute run on Saturday and felt like complete crap, someone replaced my legs with cement blocks. However I had some much needed rest and it showed today.

I did a 90km loop by our place and pounded it out in 2:27! Kept my heart rate in zone 2 for most of the ride so I should be able to, potentially do that twice. The heat is going to be the determining factor for me, it was only 15 degrees today and it'll probably be twice that in Louisville. Came off the bike and did a 10km run in 37:30 feeling really good, except for the usual side cramp. I'm getting used to it but it still hurts like hell, it feels like someone is stabbing me in the right side.

Good news I received the stem and speedsuit I've been waiting for so now I'm geared up and ready to go!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Recovery Weekend

This past week has been really tough, we trained hard in Jasper for Amber's birthday long weekend and I had a difficult training week trying to sharpen up before Louisville. I was hoping to get in some good training this weekend too but Amber's cousin was getting married in North Battleford and we really needed to make an appearance. I think it was a good thing I didn't have a lot of time to train, my body was completely exhausted and I spent most of the weekend sleeping and eating. I didn't realize how tired I was until I stopped and took a break. Lesson learned; even though you may feel mentally strong and ready to rock, physically you can't keep pushing it without some down-time.

This weekend made me realize that I may tend to push my body a little too hard at times. That's probably why I have been having my best year ever but you can't keep doing that and not expect to break down at times. I'm really glad to have a short rest before Louisville, I'm going to have another great training week (on the road), a fun training weekend with AD and one last speed-focused week before game time! I can't wait!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Why Ironman?

This is a difficult time of year, all the hard training and countless hours away from friends and family really start to take there toll. I'm fortunate enough have someone I love who likes Ironman as much as I do, but at times even she feels run down and exhausted from all the training. By the end of this week I'll have done 15kms in the pool, 210kms of cycling, and 44kms of running. That's enough to keep you in a perpetual state of fatigue. I'm so tired and hungry all the time that sometimes I ask myself "why do you do this?" I know anyone training for an Ironman, or an Ultra Marathon (Alan) probably has moments like this too.

It easier to lay on the couch than it is to go out for a hard run. When it's raining outside it's a lot more fun to curl up with a love one and watch a movie than it is to gear up and spend difficult hours suffering on the bike. It's really, really hard to get up at 6am and get to the pool before work than it is to just go for a latte and arrive at work at 8am. When I think of the number of weekends Amber and I have suffered on the trainers in our basement over the winter it makes me wonder, what would we have done with all that free time if we weren't training? Something constructive I hope.

Everyone's reason for doing an Ironman is different and I hope they learn a little something about themselves along the way. This year I've learned that I do have the mental tenacity to do well in triathlon (and in life) and I hope to always try to improve the man I've become each and every day. When someone asks me "why do you do Ironman?" The best reason I can tell them is "after completing in an Ironman, everything else in life is easy."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

One More Month

Well there is only 31 days left until D-day, training is going well although I've been really tired and finding the motivation to keep it up has been tough. While I'm home this week I want to concentrate on my swimming and I think that is what has been sapping my strength. My swimming is coming together, completed 4kms yesterday and 3kms today, and while the weekends have been devoted to long bikes and long runs I've been trying to swim as much as possible. I really need to have a good swim in Ironman, that is what is going to set me up for a good race and the way things have been going, I should have a terrific race.

I've had an incredible year, set new personal records in every race distance this year and I know I can do the same in Louisville. I have set a high goal time for myself (9:30) but I think this is totally achievable with the level of fitness I'm at this year. All I can do is prepare to the best of my ability for the next 31 days and whatever happens on the day was the way it was meant to be. I'm going in physically and mentally strong, I just wish I wasn't so tired all the time.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ascend, Descend, Repeat

Amber and I are spending a terrific weekend in Jasper again, I think we both love being there so much that we look for any excuse to go out there. We're 34 days away from Ironman and the training has been ramping up all month and I feel like I could train all day, every day out there.

Yesterday we had a long ride planned and I was itching to take in the surroundings on my bike. We headed out the icefields parkway and veered off on the road towards Lake Athabasca. There were some really good climbs on the way out and I wanted to get in as much climbing as possible while I was out there. Once I reached the turn off for Marmot Basin I decided to follow the road for as long as it would take me (I didn't see the sign at the bottom saying it was an 11km climb). It was early in the ride and I was feeling fresh so I decided to go to the top and it took me about 30 minutes. It was an absolutely amazing ride and I would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting a tough, tough climb with an incredible view. The descent was a lot of fun too, I averaged 60km/hr and reached the base in about 9 minutes.

I continued on the road and saw AD coming back as I was heading out and told her about the climb and she was excited to do it as well. Once I reached the turn around I started back and took another road I've been wanting to ride the last time I was out here. The Edith Cavel summit road was another terrific ride, 15kms of climbing and at the end you are sitting at the base of a snow capped mountain! At the end of July! The road was not in good shape so anyone wanting to do that ride I would recommend a cyclecross or mountain bike. The descent was a lot of fun but the road knocked the stuffing out of me and I was pretty tired at the bottom. The rain started to come down on the way up but it was one time I didn't really care, I was in paradise and nothing was going to bring me down today.

I hooked up with AD again who was really cold from the rain so we headed back into town and had some lunch and warmed up a little. We still wanted to get in some more distance so we headed out again on the Yellowhead towards the BC border and I felt great, I was moving fast and strong and was feeling great about my bike fitness for Ironman. I finished the 43km out and 43km back in 2:30 and the entire ride was 183kms in 6 hours and 5 minutes. Didn't break any speed records but pretty good considering everything here is either a climb or a descent.

Today was another incredible day, a 2 hour trail run with plenty of ascending and descending. The selection of trails here are phenomenal and we only tried out a couple of them but there will be plenty of them for future trips. I was feeling good in the morning when we started out but when we turned around at about 13kms my legs were significantly juiced. I held on for another 10kms and finished the 23kms in 2 hours and 13 minutes, again not very fast but a great training run for the amount of climbing we were doing. I can't wait to do another mini-training camp again here next weekend, AD's birthday weekend!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Feeling Ready for Ironman

I've been back home from vacation for a couple days now and it's nice to finally sleep in our bed again and get settled. It doesn't last long however, I was back on the road again this morning and I'm in Whitecourt today, Edson tomorrow and Jasper on Monday. The nice thing about this trip is that Amber and I have a great weekend planned in Jasper. A long ride on Saturday and a long run on Sunday in the mountains where we can build some terrific fitness at altitude.

I feel recovered from Sunday's race, I did a little 55km ride on Tuesday and felt fantastic. I can tell my bike fitness is getting there, I just need to work on my endurance over the next month and I'll be ready. It's a great feeling when your body responds to the stress you put on it in a good way. I feel super fast and strong without having to expend a lot of energy. I went for a swim and run yesterday and I still have a little work to do on my swimming, I think I could still improve my technique a little. However my running is spot on! I just need to get used to running in the heat a little more. I did a 21km run last night and the first 15km felt great, my heart rate was high but I didn't feel like I was pushing hard at all. After 15kms though I could tell the heat was taking a toll, I was suffering but I kept telling myself that you need to train your mind to deal with the suffering and it helped.

I received the "Athlete's Guide" for Louisville this morning and I'm incredibly pumped to get there and start racing! I can't wait! It sounds a lot like Ironman Canada only they are starting the age groupers with a time trial swim start. That's good news for Amber who always seems to get beat up in the swim but I hope I can find a strong swimmer to draft off of. That usually saves me a lot of energy, maybe swimming downstream will help too.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Prince George Olympic Tri

It was the last chance to test out the fitness before IM Louisville and after a week long bike tour it was going to be an incredible challenge. Amber and I arrived in Prince George on Saturday morning, checked in for the race and went to go look over the course. It was an unbelievably hilly route for the bike and run and I could tell that it was going to hurt.

Amber was not feeling up to it after the tour, 700kms of cycling in 7 days can do that to a person sometimes. I was still eager to get into the action so she was very supportive by coming out and cheering me on. I completely understood, you needed to be into it mentally and physically to complete this course. I did a quick warm up in the water and I could tell it was going to be a tough swim. The water was choppy and I was having a hard time getting a deep breath. I did what I could to get ready and by the time the race was underway I felt back in my element. I was struggling with the waves on the way out and I found it a little difficult to sight properly but I could see the leaders not too far in the distance. The second lap was a little easier but I was still having a hard time staying on course with the difficult waves. I exited the water in 6th it a time of 25.05, not bad considering I hadn't been in the water in a week.

The bike course was one of the most difficult rides I'd done in a race in a long, long time. The way out was a tough, tough uphill slough and it took me a very long time to get to the turn around. It was a little demoralizing to see 5 other bikers ahead of me at the turn around but I had completely forgotten that the duathlon was at the same time. I had passed quite a few people on the bike and was feeling good about my progress. The way back was a lot of fun and I was cruising along at 50 to 60kms/hr. I finished the bike in 1:07.50, including transitions.

The run was also a very tough uphill on the way out and it was extremely painful to push hard after a tough bike and the thought that I was still far behind. I kept a steady pace for the first lap and finished in 18:40, okay one more of those and I should have a really good run. Amber was there cheering me on and taking pictures and that was really great, she kept me going and the thought of winning was a great motivator. I held it steady for the second lap and finished the run in 37:16. A total time of 2:10.12, a great race and another 1st place this year! I am really having my best year ever and I owe a lot of the credit to my number one fan and great motivator, Amber. Thanks for being there for me babe!