Thursday, December 29, 2011

Jumping Into 2012

It's finally time to start thinking about jumping into some serious training again and I feel like I haven't done a thing in months. I've kept up with my swimming but my biking and running are really poor right now. I'm okay with feeling a little out of shape but now that I'm fully recovered and rested I need to get some structure back in my life again. Amber and I have decided to start a 5 mile indoor running race series and it's going to be incredibly fun. There are quite a few people interested and I need to get myself back in that VO2 max zone to start improving my threshold again. I'm having a tough time dealing with the fact that I'm not in good shape but as I get older I'm accepting the fact that I have to get out of shape to have some longevity in the sport.

So 2012 is a 1/2 IM year and I'm planning on starting off the year with some tough running races and then Stony Plain 1/2 IM, Calgary 70.3, and hopefully Vegas 70.3. It'll be nice to not have to think about having long, long training swims, rides, and runs and just keep training fun and fresh. We have some plans to start a family and fix up the house so this is the transition year and we'll see how everything pans out. I'm really excited to start 2012 and I think it's going to be a fantastic year for both Amber and myself.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays Everyone

It's a great time of year when training is on the back burner and rest is a priority. I've been spending a fair amount of time in the pool lately and it's great fun to just do workouts that I "want" to do as opposed to "have" to do. Yesterday Robert and I were kicked out of the Leisure Centre pool so we hustled to the Multiplex and got in a good 1750m with 25 x 50m all under 45sec with a couple sets going under 40sec! That's pretty good for a couple guys who aren't swimmers to be doing in the off-season. Training is fun right now as it should be but I am itching to get back to some structure again.

This year Amber and I have decided to host a 5 mile indoor running race series, on treadmills and we have quite a few people interested. It's going to be different to be doing a race on a treadmill but I want everyone to go into next year thinking more about achieving their own 'personal best' as opposed to racing and comparing yourself to other people. The idea is to slowly be able to see improvements in your own 5 mile race times from January to April and by the time May comes around we'll all hit the ground running (faster than usual).

So have a great Christmas and New Year and I'll look forward to hurting with everyone in 2012!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Enough Rest Already!

For someone like me who loves to train and race it's tough to HAVE to rest after a hard year of racing. 2011 turned out to be a fantastic year, especially after a disappointing 2010 when I was sick at least once a month. However I started training pretty hard in January this year for Puerto Rico and it just continued through to Kona in October. The toughest time was after Ironman Canada when everyone was pretty much done with their season and I had to keep training. I didn't have the same motivation going into Kona as I did going into IMC. I'd love to do Kona again some day but I think I would try to qualify at an earlier race like St. George or Coeur d'Alene.

The past couple of months have been pretty nice, training when I want to train and resting when I want to rest. I've started to look at rest, recovery and nutrition as the 4th discipline in being a successful triathele. I realized in 2010 that I was 'getting away' with a lot of bad habits and now that I'm a little older it's no longer easy to let those bad habits continue and still be a successful athlete. I know that if I don't eat such and such at this time, I don't get this much sleep, don't spend this much time with weights and I don't take vitamins everyday then I'm going to feel like crap and I won't be able to train the way I need to to race the way I want to. It might sound like I'm living a military lifestyle but I'm not that strict, especially in the off season. However, if I don't have some reasonable order in my life then I don't feel like I'm making forward progress and I'm not growing as an athelte and essentially as a person. One thing about being an athlete is you are always striving to be at your peak potential and be the best person possible and that translates into everything you do; work, family, friends you name it.

So the time since Kona has been great, I'm a little fatter and happier which I'm beginning to realize that it's okay to gain a few pounds in the off season. All of the nagging injuries I've been struggling with are slowly getting better and I'm feeling again like I want to get back into some structured training. I'm going to just keep things relaxed for December and try not to do too much but now I don't feel like training is a second job, it's something that I love to do and I'm eager to get back into come January.

I've also thought about my 2012 race schedule and I'm going to try to keep next year closer to home. Other than the Vegas 70.3 Worlds all of my races are going to be in Alberta next year, it's exciting to be doing GWN and Calgary 70.3 in the same year and I may even organize a team for the Death Race.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kona Memories

There were some great memories in Kona this year, here are a few images from Robert and Annette.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

IM World Championship 2011

It's hard to describe an experience that you feel you will remember for the rest of your life, for some it's the moment when they look back on their life and realize "yeah I did that." For me it was treading in the water at the start of the Ironman World Championships in Kona on October 8th 2011. I've never really thought that doing Kona was a big deal, it's just another Ironman; swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles. Yes doing an Ironman is a huge accomplishment but to me one Ironman was just like the other, that was until I did this race.

Amber and I arrived in Kona on Wednesday eager to start our vacation, she had been working 70hr weeks and I was traveling quite a bit for work in the weeks leading up to the event. I had suffered from a post-Ironman flu after Canada and had to take a good two weeks off training. I had one solid week and then I started to get sick again, so I was going into this race knowing that I was not going to set a PR but I was just going to soak in in the experience and have fun racing with all the professionals and best age groupers in the world. Being in this event is unlike any other sport, it's playing in an NFL, NHL, MLB, or NBA game in the same arena as all those sports heros you admire but in this event you are suffering for 8-10 hours right along with them.

The weather was not even close to what the weather network was stating that it would be the week leading up to the event. It was between 28'and 30'C everyday with high humidity, not ideal race conditions for someone from Grande Prairie. I stayed relaxed and calm going into the event almost too relaxed, I didn't feel that fear that pushes you to a place of adrenaline and forces you to push harder compete stronger. However I went there for Ironman Canada and I wasn't sure I had another one of those efforts in me only 6 short weeks later. It turns out I was right but the journey over the 10:25 I was out on the course was incredible and I'll remember it for the rest of my life.

The 4 hour time change for once turned out to be very beneficial, I was up at 4-5am every morning (8-9am mountain time) which meant that the 4am wake up Ironman day was not a problem. Amber and I got a ride down to the race start with our friends Robert and Annette and it was great to have a small cheering squad for me. The pre-race run through was amazing; drop off your special needs bags, get personally body marked by two markers and no line up, get weighed at the medical station, drop off the pre-race clothes, sunscreen, body glide, vasoline, go through the bike set up again and hit the washroom one more time before coming back to watch the pros start. It's an incredible feeling to be there at the start line and know that the eyes of the endurance world are on you right at that moment.

I jumped in the water 25 minutes before the start, did a little warm up and realized that maybe I started warming up a bit too soon. Once you go into the water, there is no going back and you have to tread water until the gun goes off. The treading water was tough, I was getting kicked and elbowed constantly and the race hadn't even started yet. The gun went off and it was immediate carnage, elbow in the goggle, kick in the side, dunked and climbed over I was used to an Ironman swim start but this was an Ironman swim on steroids! Usually after a few hundred meters I can distance myself from most of the swimmers and I have a fairly comfortable swim but I was trashing around in the water with some of the best of the best and this was no ordinary group of swimmers. The kicking, punching and getting climbed over didn't stop and at one point my right goggle filled up with salt water burning my eye so badly that I closed that eye and swam for the rest of the swim with one eye open. Until I got hit in the left eye and I was forced to empty my goggles, not an easy task with 1800 adrenaline pumped athletes surging behind you. I'd never had so many people around me during any swim in my life and it was an awaking experience this early in the race. I ended up coming out of the water in 1:05, an excellent time for me in a non-wetsuit swim.

The bike was unbelievable, very hard and incredibly beautiful. I rode through town very fast and I was surprised at how many people were passing me. As I headed out on the Queen K I was getting passed constantly, normally I am passing other bikers like crazy but having others blow by you like you are standing still is a very humbling experience. I kept up my nutrition and pacing and tried to stay within myself and not let anything bother me but every athlete that passed me was like getting a little air let out of my tires, it was just getting harder and harder to keep going. Fortunately the winds were calm until I made the uphill turn to Hawi, there is a 15km uphill section leading into town and the headwind was FIERCE! It took me forever to get to town, get my special needs bag and turn back to Kona. The sun was beating down on me hard and I could feel it slowly draining my energy mile after mile. By 140kms I was just counting down the kms to the finish, that's when I knew I wasn't going to have a stellar day. Still 40kms left to go in the ride and my stomach was upset, I was burnt from the sun and every muscle was telling me to just stop and rest. When I did get close to Kona I was thinking I could just take 10 minutes in transition and drink some water and rest for a while. Unfortunately the volunteers are so good that I was changed, dressed and ready to head out to the run in a couple of minutes with no time to re-charge. Still I managed to have my best bike time ever of 5:15, amazing considering how I felt.

The run was one of those tough experiences when you find yourself shuffling for a few hundred meters and then walking for a few hundred meters. I was using ice, water, sponges, coke, anything I could get my hands on to keep myself cool and fueled. I would run for a little while and the heat and humidity just forced me to slow down and take a walk break. Normally it's not a problem for me to take little breaks at the aid stations but as athlete after athlete passed me I was getting more and more broken down over 42kms. It wasn't until the final couple kms that I realized I was going to make it to the finish and I started running well again. My stride started coming back and I was caught up in the joy of being in the greatest race in the world and very, very relieved that I was finishing. I ran through the finish with my hands in the air and a fist pump that said "yeah I finally did it" now I can say I raced with some of the best athletes in the world and no matter what happened to me on that day I know I gave it everything I had.

Looking back over the past week I can't be disappointed, I did everything I felt I could do and I knew I was going to have a tough race having done one just 6 weeks ago. There are moments when I catch myself being down about the day but being there with some of the best in the world was incredible. It does make you realize how great this sport is and how far it's reached worldwide. I heard French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, any language you can think of out there. I felt so privileged to be out there with all of them and next time I do this race I'll be ready and peaked for it. I'm taking next year off Ironman and my body is happy to have a rest but this is the event if you are a triathlete and some day I'll be back to do it again.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Thank You Weather Gods

I don't know too many people that are going on a holiday to Hawaii and are hoping for cool weather but if you're planning on doing an Ironman there, you definitely are. An average of 20-21'c for the next week- 10 days is absolutely perfect. I'm feeling rested and recovered from IMC, I haven't done much training but it's a little late to be doing much now. If anything I've been too relaxed going into this event, I've kind of feel like I've been training very hard since January and now my body is starting to rebel. I got sick right before IMC and I'm just getting over another flu so I've just been resting. I'm still really looking forward to being in Hawaii again and spending time with Amber, we've both been working so hard that we see eachother for an hour before bed and that's it. Two days of prep before and then a great race, probably in the wind- which I'm definitely trained for and then a week of vacationing.
14 Day Trend: Kailua-Kona, HI
Oct 1 21°C 20°C Light rain
Oct 2 22°C 20°C Cloudy with showers
Oct 3 22°C 20°C Isolated showers
Oct 4 22°C 21°C Scattered showers
Oct 5 22°C 20°C Isolated showers
Oct 6 21°C 20°C Isolated showers
Oct 7 21°C 19°C Isolated showers
Oct 8 20°C 19°C Cloudy periods
Oct 9 20°C 19°C Variable cloudiness
Oct 10 20°C 18°C Sunny

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thanks for the Company Babe

This weekend was my last big training block if you can call what I've been doing after IMC 'training.' I did my crazy sauna ride on Friday night and that took quite a bit out of me even though it was only 30 minutes. I've been trying to get back to normal Ironman training but I was pretty tired going into this weekend. I planned on doing a long ride on Saturday and after waiting for it to warm up to at least 12-13'c I headed out around noon. The wind was absolutely screaming, which seems to be the norm in GP and great practice for Kona. I can't say I like riding in the wind but if I want to get stronger for Hawaii I better get used to it. The first 20kms to Sexsmith were in a cross wind so no real problems but then I made the turn west straight into a 40km/hr headwind and stayed there for the next 55kms. It was so tough to remain focused and not let the wind get you down when you look at the computer and you see 19-20kms/hr. I ran out of GU Brew so I was forced to used some Heed and my stomach did not like the change. After 75kms I made the turn south and had a cross wind again but at least I was moving a lot faster, I was getting really hungry but couldn't stomach any more Heed or gels so I decided to stop in Beaverlodge for lunch at 100k. I planned on doing at least 150k but by the time I was in Beaverlodge I was so drained and cold that I made the bailout call and asked Amber to pick me up which she thankfully did.

Sunday I woke up early (for a Sunday) and was in the pool at 8:30, I was happy to see a bunch of people there training again and it motivated me to get going. I pounded out a 3km swim and sat for 30 minutes in sauna, it seems that after 20 minutes whether I'm biking or sitting it's incredibly tough to get my core temperature down. I had a quick lunch and headed home to get ready for my long-run. At this point I was feeling pretty run down, my plan was to get in at least 30kms but my legs were really heavy and I didn't want to push my luck when it comes to staying healthy. I was already feeling swollen glands during the week and after the long-cold bike ride I was pushing my luck.

Amber felt like getting out of the house so she decided to join me on her mountain bike while I ran. We did the first 5kms with Harley and it was so awesome to run hard with the whole family. I think I may have been pushing the pace a little too hard but I wanted to try to do 30kms in 2 hours (or as close as I could get to 2 hours). I was on track when we dropped H-dog off at home and Amber and I went out for the rest of the run. Running into the park it was nice to have company and talk to someone while running my normal pace. I could tell I was pushing pretty hard when I started talking less and less and started hurting more and more. By the time I was at about 13kms I knew it was going to be tough to do the whole 30k today. I tried to stay steady and as smooth as possible but there were times when my heart rate just spiked a little to high and I needed to take a 20-30 second walk break. Amber was great out there, really supportive and kept giving me positive feedback while allowing me to go whatever pace I felt comfortable with. The end of the run was getting fairly ugly but I stayed within my pace and took short walk breaks and still managed to get in 26kms in 1:51, that's about a 14km/hr pace which is a little slow for just a run but great practice for an Ironman run; mentally and physically tough.

The rest of the day I was wiped out and my body is definitely telling me to take it easy this week. I can tell that if I pushed it any further this weekend I would be really sick. I need to be very, very careful to just stay healthy and not worry so much about training for the next three weeks. Nothing I do now will make me any fitter but I can ruin my race by not resting enough. I'm going to do a few 'easy' workouts this week and have some short sharpening up bricks this weekend. That's all I feel like I really need and then it's off to Kona for some fun in the sun!

Friday, September 16, 2011

So You Wanna Go to Kona... Are You Sure?

"...In the end, people either have excuses or experiences; reasons or results; buts or brilliance. They either have want they wanted or they have a detailed list of all the rational reasons why not." -Matt Erbele, It Takes Time to Get Good.

I was determined to do something to acclimatize a little before Hawaii. The last time I tried to do a race in high heat and humidity I suffered more than I could ever imagine, I do not want to go through that again. I had the idea of setting up my bike and trainer in the sauna at the Leisure Centre (good or bad idea has yet to be determined). I thought I could spin easy for about an hour- I only lasted 30 minutes. I'm so grateful we live in a city where they are willing to work with a local amateur athlete and they allowed me to do this.

Everything started out great but as I was setting up I couldn't believe how quickly I was starting to heat up, by the time I started riding I was already sweating. I could only spin easy and my heart rate was in the 150's, after 20 minutes I needed to take a break so I sat outside for a few minutes. I cooled down a little and jumped back in but immediately my heart rate went right up to the 160's so I needed another break after 5 minutes. I knew I was nearing the end of my ability to stay in there but I wanted to do at least 30 minutes so I jumped back in for another 5 minutes. I was barely turning the pedals but I was suffering just to get through the final 5 minutes.

At the end I couldn't believe how hot everything was, my water was hot, my bike was hot, the trainer was hot and I went through 3 bottles in 30 minutes. My clothes were so wet that I looked like I just got out of the pool. I'd like to get in a couple more rides in there and everyone at the Leisure Centre seemed pretty interested that someone was crazy enough to do something like that. One more big training weekend and then I'll start to taper things down.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Where Did Everybody Go?

Last week I started to get back into the routine of training a little bit but I couldn't help but shake this feeling like it just didn't quite feel the same. Normally thoughout the summer all the triathletes in town are showing up at the pool around the same time, out on the trails running or organizing bike rides. Now that it's September and IMC is over it feels like I'm out there training all on my own. I had no problem having a lane to myself during Friday and Sunday's swims (which is normally unheard of in this town). I was riding all by myself on Friday night and even though I did meet up with a bunch of athletes on Saturday morning for a run, they were in 'off-season' mode and I had to go out and do an additional 10k.

It's been a bit of a battle over the last couple weeks trying to keep myself focused on the fact that I still need to train. I know there is not a lot I can do to become fitter before Kona but I don't want to be out there 6 hours into the race and find out that I didn't do enough to maintain my endurance. I'm still feeling rough after IMC and I haven't had a good training session yet but I'm hoping with a little more rest, an easy build and recovery I'll be able to pull this thing off in 4 weeks.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ironman Canada 2011

Talk about a nerve wracking experience leading up to IMC 2011, my training was going along absolutely perfect leading into this year's event; I was swimming better than ever, biking consistently and strong in terrible conditions, and running on par with some of my best years. Two weeks before the race I did a swim-bike workout with Amber and I wasn't feeling quite the same as I normally felt, I chalked it up to pre-race tapering fatigue but only did a 90 minute swim and a 60km bike and then pulled the plug. I wanted to try and get in 120km ride but there was no way I had the energy to get through it on that day. The next day I geared up for my long run and I couldn't believe how tired I was, normally a 25km run at this time of year is no problem. I should be able to bang it off in 90-100 minutes but I was struggling to hold a fairly slow pace and every 5kms got harder and harder. I told myself that it was good practice for an Ironman run and finished the 25kms in 1:40.

The next day I was SICK, body aches, weakness, stuffed head, the works! ARRRGGGGHHH, not now! Two weeks before the biggest race of the year and I was out, I spent the next two weeks resting, hydrating and doing everything I could think of to get back to normal. The Thursday before the race I was still feeling rough and I was certain I was going to have to pull the plug and not race this year. Finally my body started to come around on Friday, my energy started to return and by Saturday I felt normal again, other than a little sinus congestion. Early Sunday morning I was on the start line again with 2800 other athletes and so excited to return to Ironman racing after a year off.

The start of an Ironman is always a gong show, swimming with 2800 other people at the same time is a rough way to start your morning. You get kicked, punched, crawled over and anything else you can think of that you don't want to happen while swimming. However this year I was trying to be a little more strategic than in past. Previous races it was just a matter of pushing hard and getting through the swim without getting damaged in the chaos. This year I followed the same strategy I used in my half ironman races and I just looked for swimmers that were about the same pace and I stuck to their feet, in the draft. I got knocked around a little between a few people but for the most part it was a perfect swim for me, conserve as much as possible while still pushing to keep the heart rate within the 'race zone.' I got out of the water and was ecstatic to see that it was my best swim ever; 59:47! Sub-hour swim, wow I wasn't expecting that, awesome way to start the race.

The transition went fairly smooth other than the fact that I had my heart monitor on to make sure I didn't overdo it and when I grabbed my bike I was at 165bpm. Anyone who has trained with me knows that a 165bpm for me is a 400m sprint pace, not something you want to see in an Ironman, but I said that it's probably just due to the quick swim and run to the bike so I spent some time trying to get that down. The first 64kms of the IMC bike are awesome, incredibly fast and that day we had a huge tailwind that was pushing us all the way to Osoyoos. I was doing 45km splits and the first 45kms flew by in 1:08! Woah, somedays I have a hard time doing 40kms in that time but I'll take it. My heart race was under control (but still in the 140s), my perceived effort was good, I could talk and breathe normally, I was taking in over 300 calories every hour (Gu, Maltodextrin, and gels) and my stomach was cooperating for the moment.

The tough part for me in the ride is climbing up Richter Pass, I get passed by a lot of riders and it's difficult for my ego to take but this is Ironman and you have to put your ego aside and be smart all day. I kept telling myself that this is not your speciality and if I'm patient my time will come. I went through the rollers and the out and back without much of anything exciting happening but when I started to climb Yellow Lake I ran into my first problem of the day. I tried to stand up to climb a gentle slope and just flush out the legs a bit and immediately my quads started cramping badly. I thought it might just be a temporary issue so I spun for a while and tried again and OUCH! Yeah I can't stand up, okay I had a problem how was I going to fix it. It wasn't a calorie issue I was taking enough calories to keep me going and I didn't feel bonky, I didn't think it was a hydration issue I was drinking more water as the day got hotter and then I realized that it was probably a sodium issue. I looked at my clothes and sure enough I was covered in salt, I had two salt tabs in each bottle, about 12 grams for 180kms which normally is more than enough. However I was drinking a lot more water than I normally do so I was probably diluting the salt in my body. I immediately took 3 more grams I had as an emergency and I'm so glad I did, I had to struggle up the toughest part of Yellow Lake with cramping legs but fortunately I had Steve and Ross there running beside me yelling and they pushed me all the way up that hill. Without those guys I might have just stopped and waited for my legs to recover. I got to the top and my legs started to come around on the descent, by the time I was riding back into town they were tired but not cramping anymore. I finished the bike in a slower time than I wanted but still fairly good for the day; 5:21.24 beginning the marathon in under 6hrs and 30mins is a great way to set yourself up for a sub-10 hour race and I was under that mark.

I started the marathon at the hardest part of the day, around 1:30 and the heat was unbelievable!! It must have reached 33'-34'C that day but at least the humidity is not an issue in Penticton. I've done a race where the heat is bad and there is nothing you can do to cool yourself because of the humidity (Louisville) and it's aweful, you suffer through this death march on the marathon and what ever you try to do to get yourself going fails miserably. That day I was dumping ice in my hat, drinking coke and water, taking gels, making sure I was taking salt and my legs were holding together. I still had to stop and walk through the aid stations but I was running pretty well in-between them. I had a few guys pass me on the first half of the marathon but I stayed patient and I passed a lot of them on the second half. The final 10kms of the race were absolutely excrutating, I was hurting from every point in my body but I made sure I didn't give up before I was in the finish shute. I kept up with the coke and water and unlike 2009 I didn't bonk in the final mile, I actually picked up my pace on the final 800m and I passed one person. It wasn't a fantastic marathon time for me but on a day like that I'll take the 3:17.15 and final time of 9:44.32. I finished 5th in my age group and 29th overall, in 2009 I also placed 29th overall but with a better time so I know the day was tougher this year.

I needed two I.V. bags after the finish and I was completely spent, I had no idea where I was or what I was doing and it took me over half an hour to find our car afterwards. I qualified for Hawaii again and this year Amber didn't let me off the hook when I told her I didn't want to do another Ironman again in 6 weeks. I signed up and after some rest I'm sure I'll be excited to be going to Kona with Amber. It's such a beautiful place that it's great to have a reason to go back and being a part of the Ironman World Championships is going to be incredible! We spend all winter watching DVDs of Kona on our bikes in the basement and now I get an opportunity to be in the race, awesome I can't wait...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I just finished Chris McCormak's new book, "I'm here to win" and I have to say whatever your opinion of Macca (good or bad) if you are a triathlete you need to read this book. I've never been a Macca fan, he comes across so arrogant and cocky that I just couldn't stand listening to him. Triathlon is a tough sport and Ironman is the toughest event in triathlon, you don't need to boast or brag and call people out, do your talking on the race course. However after reading his book I realized that Macca is really not like that, he's a confident guy that's for sure but he's a humble champion who loves his family and loves what he does for a living. His 'persona' when he's racing is totally different from who he actually is. At the professional level he understands that physically most pros are only separated by a 1-2% difference in physical ability so the mental game becomes much more important. By calling out an athlete or by making them race mad Macca is actually creating an environment where other athletes are thinking about him instead of thinking about what they need to do during the race, brilliant! He's one of the most successful athletes in the sport and his results speak volumes.

I'm not saying that I can use this strategy as an age group athlete but after being a triathlete for over ten years I thought I knew almost everything there was to know, not even close. There are some great insights and things to learn from this book, for example; most athletes will drink a lot of water for the week leading up to their goal race, smart right? Not if your training for an Ironman, if your doing an Olympic or Half Ironman race then you probably won't have a problem but during an Ironman, big problem! The thing is the body will hydrate itself in two ways, plasma hydration in the blood which comes from drinking a lot of water (and inevitably peeing a lot) and muscle hydration. Macca always cramped in the heat of Hawaii and he couldn't come up with a solution until he started learning more about the difference between the two. He found out about the difference not from sports physiologists or PHDs who were testing him relentlessly but from a French bodybuilder. He taught Macca about a well known process bodybuilders do before preparing for a competition, by drinking an element based water (water with zinc, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium) your body will store this in the muscles through osmosis for later use. That's great for a bodybuilder but how is it going to help me in an Ironman, I'm swimming, biking and running for hours. Well after a few hours of being dehydrated your blood plasma becomes thicker and the only place to draw from is the muscles, sure you can drink and try to re-hydrate and if you're a small athlete you may not have any issues, but for a big athlete training in the heat, cramping is inevitable. So prepare your muscles by drinking an element infused drink for the weeks leading up to the race. Once Macca started doing this, he never had an issue with cramping in Hawaii and he won two, placed fourth in one (because of a bad swim) and had a mechanical in the other.

There is also a lot of great info on an athlete's mindset and preparation before a race. I'm starting to realize how important getting yourself in the right frame of mind is. I always knew I felt very fit before before an Ironman but I just attributed that to all the training I was doing leading up to the race, and that does play an important factor. However I'm learning that training your mind to be in that place where you know you are about to complete one of the toughest events you will probably face in your life is even more important. I'm reminded of last year when I wasn't doing an Ironman and I went out for an open water swim with a buddy of mine who I usually don't have a problem swimming away from and how easily he pulled away from me. He had the 'mindset' of an Ironman athlete, he knew he was going to do an Ironman and his body responded in training. He said his arms were moving with little to no effort and I was doing everything I could just to stay close to him. I got out of the water after 45 minutes completely exhausted and he kept going for well over an hour. Mentally preparing yourself through training is so incredibly important and as much as we think we are preparing our bodies for the punishment to come, preparing your mind is even more important.

The training so far this month has been great, other than a terrible open water swim in Musreau on Monday (but I'm attributing that to the very cold water) I feel great. My running has been right on track, I've had a couple knee issues on the bike but after a bit of rest it seems to be getting better and in the pool I'm moving very, very well. Now I need to equate that to feeling great in the open water but I've still got a couple weeks to sharpen up that skill and it won't be a problem. Mentally I'm prepared for what's coming and I'm happy and relaxed about getting back into the Ironman ring again this year. Two more weeks and we'll see if all the hard work has paid off, I'm confident I'm going to have a terrific race.

Monday, August 1, 2011

August Long Weekend 2011

August long weekend holds a lot of great memories for Amber and I, many, many great summers are spent on our bikes or on the trails. A couple of years after we met we planned a bike trip from Calgary to Banff and when we reached Canmore I asked Amber to marry me. She was having a horrible ride but seemed to perk right up after I asked her this weekend four years ago. She's the perfect partner for me and she understands my motivation and drive to continue to do this crazy sport of Ironman. There is a lot of suffering that goes into not only completing an Ironman but preparing for one. Weekends are not spent drinking on the deck with friends and lounging at the lake with family but pushing yourself beyond what you thought you were capable of on your bike, in the pool or running the trails and pathways. Many hours are dedicated to one day at the end of August when you are swimming, biking and running for 9-12 hours.

Why do I do this sport? The only answer I can come up with to that question is that after an Ironman (including preparing for an Ironman) everything else in life is easy. Ironman teaches you discipline, patience, planning, preparation, and how to break down a HUGE accomplishment into manageable parts, all things that have helped me tremendously in my life. When most people who don't understand the sport first hear about it they can't fathom doing something like that all day long. The truth is that anyone can do it with the proper preparation and race discipline the problems happen when you change your discipline or you don't adapt to changes in your conditions, just like in life.

This weekend was filled with fun things, Saturday Amber, Robert, Annette and I planned to ride from Grande Cache to Grande Prairie; 180kms over some tough, tough climbs. Unfortunately Amber woke up not feeling well so she had to take a day off but the three of us loaded up and went out to practice our Ironman ride. The first 95kms to our drop box went fairly well, I was keeping my heart rate under control on the climbs and although my legs could tell they have been pushing for 2 hours and 40 minutes I was ready to keep going for another 85kms. By the time Robert and I hit the 140km point we were both hurting but we kept each other honest and pushed the remaining 40kms to finish in 5:31. We even jumped off our bikes and did a 20 minute run just get that start of the Ironman run feeling.

Sunday Amber was feeling better so we headed to the pool and put in a solid 3kms with some 500m sets and I felt pretty good. After lunch we did a little family run for an hour and I didn't give myself enough time to digest so I was having a tough time but held on for 15kms.

Today Amber was determined to get in her 180km ride but the wind was absolutely screaming!!! It was a 40km/hr wind with gusts up to 70kms/hr! It was not a safe day to ride but she did not want to call it off so we planned for her to head east with a tailwind most of the way. I would drive out and do my run every 40 or 50 kms and provide her with a refueling stops. Things were going along pretty well until I saw how much construction there was on the highway, I didn't realize she had about 20kms of chipseal riding with loose gravel everywhere but by the time I reached her she was through it. In the end she had a fantastic ride doing 180kms in 5:24! and I managed to run 38kms in 2:38. I went through some tough periods when I decided it was a good idea to eat a couple pieces of pizza after running 21kms... bad idea. I felt like I was going to throw up for the next 8-9kms, lesson learned.

All in all it was a great weekend with friends and family and after 180kms riding, 3kms swimming and 58kms running I feel closer to being ready for Ironman. Bring it on.