Thursday, November 7, 2013

60,000 Miles

The little man and me getting in some push ups

That's how far I've determined an athlete can go before things start going wrong with his/her body. Now 60,000 miles seems like a really long way, and if you are an average person who runs a couple times a week then yeah it is. However for a triathele it could only be a few good years of hard training and racing before the body starts to revolt and lets you know that your days training like this are numbered. I look back at my athletic career and I've had some really good results for an average age grouper, I didn't start doing triathlons until I was about 28 years old and I didn't start Ironman training until I was 32. So I've had 10-12 years of tough training and racing and although I like to think I'm always getting faster and better at some point things start to catch up with you.

The Achilles injury in 2012 was the really tough one to overcome and although I bounced back fairly well, after that I could not train the same way I used to and I had to think of new ways to train that would allow me more time to recover but still keep my fitness really high. I guess you could say I've tried to go back to my roots, in University I did a lot of weights and a little running. I didn't know how to swim and rarely biked but I enjoyed being in the gym and hitting the weights hard for 2-3 hours some days. I haven't gone to that extreme but I'm realizing that naturally losing 2% muscle mass every year for 10 years will catch up with you and you are bound to get injured if you don't do some lifting on a regular basis. I still thoroughly enjoy swim-bike-run and it still dominates most of my activity time but with Ryder now that activity time is limited. I try to have him around when I workout but he gets bored really quickly so I have to be quick with my workouts and limit it to 20-40 minutes. It's a great feeling thinking about being active and healthy with him but I just hope this old body will stay strong and fit well into the future. I've definitely passed my 60,000 mile limit but I'm doing everything I can to keep pushing back that barrier and one day train and race with my son, he's just started standing on his own so the first step by himself is coming very soon.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

2013 Success

It's always an incredible feeling when you've had a really good year of racing and you want to continue to improve but having a good year and continually trying to build on that will eventually run you right into a wall. This year I had a pretty rough Ironman but followed up with an incredible race in Calgary and Peace River and I'm looking at this year as a huge success. They say that nothing changes your life more than having a kid and that is 100% right. All of the sudden swimming, riding and running were luxuries that I simply didn't have a lot of time for. Fortunately I have an incredible wife who has done an amazing job with Ryder and knows that her husband needs some training outlet no matter how small. All my success this year can be credited to Amber, she is a great sounding board and coach and understands what it takes to be successful in racing. She's also had to handle the brunt of the work with a newborn and we have a happy, healthy boy because of her. This year was a bit of a question mark for me, coming back from an Achilles tear is not something a lot of people can accomplish. I thought all my PRs were in the past but I had a very strong race in Calgary, not a PR but a 'tough to beat' time of 4:18 there on the new course and I hope they keep the course the same next year. The swim was a lot better, the bike a challenging uphill grind there and downhill back, and the run was hilly and tough (as always). I'm certain I can improve on my run there, I was suffering with some calf issues leading up to the race and didn't run as much as I'm used to. I think if they keep the course the same I can beat my PR of 4:11 at GWN, not the same course but Calgary is definitely more difficult even though the bike is short. Peace River is where I set my PR this year, beating 36 year old me by 1:20 almost breaking an hour for the sprint (1:00.57) and still placing 2nd! I was certain I wouldn't win with Joe there but I was only shooting to beat my 2009 time. So now it's time to relax and recover, call it a successful season and think about next year. I'm certain that I won't be doing an Ironman for a while but I'd like to concentrate on shorter distances to see if I can get faster and race really well at the 70.3 distance. I have a rough idea of what I'd like to do next year and a couple 70.3 races are on the radar, it's easier to train for and recover from and Id have more time with family. After all how can I be apart from this face for too long.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Peace River Sprint

What an incredible race! I forgot how much fun a sprint race can be and I had an amazing time. I basically strong-armed all my friends into doing this race and I'm glad I did, there were 8 guys that beat the time of last year's winner. There was such a stacked field that all the race organizers were blown away by the times and the competition there. I knew going into it that I wasn't going to be able to bike as fast as Joe and I was right he easily put 2 minutes on me which is impossible to make up in a sprint. It was great to have him there he kept me focused on the bike and pushing the entire race. I set a new PR for a sprint which is all I wanted to do, I beat 36 year old me which I thought was impossible after turning 40.

I don't think I've ever devoted so much time and energy into training for and racing a sprint but all my buddies were so excited for this race that it became contagious. We did two swim- bike- runs all at the sprint distance on the Saturdays leading up to the event and training seemed to be going really well. Unfortunately we woke up on race morning to spitting rain and wet roads... ugh. Well you can't control the weather so I just packed up and headed to the race start. I have taken a spill on a rainy race before so I was very cognizant of staying under control through all the turns on the bike.

The swim was really great, I led our heat and had an opportunity to keep the pace high and managed to lap the other 3 guys once or twice in the 750m. I was quite surprised to find out later I had the 2nd fastest swim of 11:27 behind a really fast young guy from Ft. St. John who swam a 10:03. I couldn't believe I beat the times of some incredible swimmers from GP, Steve, Joe, and Richard have always swam faster than me so it shocked me in a good way.

When I started riding I could tell something didn't feel right immediately. I was holding a 162-163 HR and my power seemed to be okay but I just wasn't getting the speed I should have been for that type of effort. I'm not sure if it was the cooler weather or not warming up the legs beforehand but I didn't have the ride I was hoping for. I took a look at my Garmin data afterwards and I was pushing hard the entire ride, there really was no where I could have gained any additional time so I know I gave it everything I had. I saw Joe pass me about 3/4 of the way through the first lap and I tried to keep him in sight for as long as possible. I could see him in the distance for most of the second bike loop which helped maintain my focus. My average power was 247W which is very high for me any higher and I wouldn't have been able to run after. I had the 2nd fastest bike time of 31:39 at an average of about 38km/hr.

I started the run and my legs were absolute concrete, I was running but felt like I was just shuffling. I could see Joe in the distance making the first turn so I was pushing as hard as I could to catch him but we were running at pretty much the same pace. When I thought I was gaining on him it was only a few meters and it was too late, my legs didn't start coming around until 2.5k and I knew that he had me. That being said my goal was to beat my 2009 time of 1:02.17 which I did by 1:20 giving me the fastest run time of 17:52 and a total time of 1:00.57. Fantastic race for me and I'm glad I had a group of great guys keeping me pushing hard for the full hour. The nice thing about a sprint is it's over by 10am and we had time for coffee and lunch before heading back home.

Well that wraps up my 2013 season, great to have completed an Ironman, 1/2 Ironman, and a Sprint race all in one year. I'm looking forward to spending more time with Amber and Ryder next year so I might just keep it short distance. The training isn't as time intensive and I can still feel like I'm active and healthy which is one of the things I love about this sport.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sprint Training

It's really strange having your season go from Ironman, to 1/2 Ironman, to Sprint training and I'm not sure my body knows what's going on. The tough part is that I was really beat up after IM CdA and I needed some down time but there is really not a lot of time to heal up before I needed to start again for Calgary 70.3. At Calgary I went really hard and again I needed some down time before I could do anything, fortunately a week off and a week easy seems to have done the trick. Now I just have a small Sprint Tri in Peace River and then the season is over and I can get some deep rest and recovery. It has been really nice not having the pressure of Ironman training over my head and being able to spend more time with Ryder and Amber. Last Saturday I told Amber I was doing a swim-bike-run with a couple guys on Saturday and I'd be finished everything by about 10am! That never happens prepping for most races, but we did a 750m swim, 20k bike and 5k run and had time for coffee and the rest of the day to hang out with family.

 So far last week I've done 3 days where I swam, biked and ran all on the same day and I feel really good. The body is not breaking down, I'm not dealing with a lot of injuries, I can have a lot of time with family and I feel like I've accomplished something that day. I'm really pleased with how my swim has developed this year, my biking is still fairly strong the only area I know I could improve has been my running but dealing with some of the calf issues I've had I think I'm still running strong. I expected to run a 1:20 or less in Calgary but I was only running one day a week leading up to it so I'm not surprised I ran a 1:24 and I'm very happy with that time.

Peace River is looking to be a very competitive race, so far I know of 6 other guys that are going and are capable of beating the time of last year's winner (1:07). The last time I did this race I had a 1:02.17 time and I'm looking to go faster this year. Robert and I have been focusing on true 'sprint' training and I'm hoping the 20 minute all out bike rides and 5k fast runs will pay off. On an ideal day I feel like I could go sub-12 on the swim (including transition), sub-30 on the bike (including transition) and sub-18 on the run breaking the one hour barrier. The only really question mark is going to be the bike, there are a lot of turns on the two loop course and I'm going to have to keep my speed up to average over 40km/hr. I can do it on a straight out and back but this will be more like a criterium than a time trial, we'll have to see.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Ironman Calgary 70.3

Me and Kevin pre-race
I think it's no surprise to anyone who knows me that I didn't quite have the race I was looking for at Coeur d'Alene. After all the hard months of training one stupid mistake can really cost you, I didn't practice with elastic laces and they crushed my feet throughout the whole run. That's all a part of racing and I tell everyone if you race long enough you are going to run into every situation possible, the trick is to not let it get you down and come back to the next race stronger and faster than ever. So after months of Ironman training under my belt I was hoping to use that endurance base and build in some speed for Calgary 70.3. The training was going really well until I suffered a really bad calf cramp and couldn't run for the weeks leading up to the event. I wasn't all that worried about having a bad run, I know I can suffer through a 1/2 marathon but I needed to be healthy going into the event. Thanks to a lot of Graston and A.R.T. for getting the kinks worked out and if anyone has done those, you know that it's like putting your legs through a meat tenderizer- not fun.

The week before the race I wanted to do a swim-bike race simulation and Robert was on board with the bike but he was not up for the swim before. No worries I swam with Steve at a steady 1:30/100m pace for 2kms and jumped out to join the boys for a tough 90k. I didn't know how tough until Robert decided to drop the hammer right off the start and  leave us all in the dust but I put my head down and was pushing 350 watts to catch up to him. I did end up catching but shortly after got a flat... ugh. Quick change and we were back to hammering again although this time we were drafting back and forth and managed to keep the heart rates very high, this was definitely a race simulation ride for me although I doubted I could run afterwards. As we approached the turn around I got another flat so we decided to head back, we had no spares and I was going cross-eyed from the effort. Another 40k of hard riding and we were back at the Multiplex and I was so tired I could barely get my bike on the roof. I thought, 'wow I'm definitely going to have to pace myself well on the bike to be able to run in Calgary.' Even though I hadn't been running much before the race I did do a slower (1:26) 21k and I felt great, I knew that I could run faster but I wanted to not stress the calf and the run in Calgary was a lot harder. While in Calgary I had a great time hanging out with Amber, Ryder, some family and friends and I think this is why I love racing. Sure the race itself was a great event but having time away from work and just being with family makes it all the more enjoyable. I don't need a race to do that of course but having a race adds to the overall enjoyment of the trip and it gives us a good reason to drive 8hrs to Calgary.

Me with the two Vegas bound athletes Kevin and Doug
The race venue had changed from Ghost Lake to MacKenzie Lake in south Calgary and I have to say it was a welcome change. MacKenzie Lake was so nice to swim in and one full lap of it is 1.9k so it was perfect. Not only that but you didn't have to run up a steep hill to get to the bike racks like at Ghost Lake, I can't imagine that after swimming hard for 30 minutes. I did all the pre-race rituals, tires, bottles, bathroom, bag drop and headed to the start. I put myself to the left of the pack at about the 2nd row. The pros went and before I realized it we were off! The start was the usual ciaos but I stayed calm and only got hit a couple times. The first turn buoy was a difficult one because you had to turn about 130 degrees, almost a U-turn but by then the crowd had thinned out and I was just looking for someone else's feet. I had a few hundred metres on my own until I finally found someone but got a good draft for most of the 2nd half. The tunnel in Mackenzie Lake is really cool and it was a lot of fun swimming there again, Amber and I used to practice swim there all the time when we first met and it reminded me of the pre-Ironman open water swims we used to do. As I headed through transition I was really happy to see 28:31 on my watch, a great swim for me and I ended up being 41st out of the water, not bad for a non-swimmer.

The ride was great- I tried to ease into it but during a half there is really not a lot of time to waste. The slow steady incline all the way out to Bragg Creek was starting to wear on me, I was hoping to go a lot faster but I was pushing as hard as I knew I could without burning out my legs. I had a group of about 6-8 guys blow by me and I thought about hanging on but I saw draft marshalls around me all day and I was paranoid about getting a penalty. I don't know if any of them got a penalty but they definitely should have, they were grouped together like a tour pack. I finally got to Bragg Creek and was a little disappointed to see 1:28 for the first 45k but I was confident I could make up a lot of time on the way back and I did. The ride was short of the 90k official distance but I was just happy to start the run in under 3 hours. I finished the ride in 2:26.21 including transitions and now I was in my element.

Starting the run
As soon as I started the run it felt like someone was stabbing my quads with knives but I told myself this is just that 'getting off the bike' tightness and in a couple kms it'll subside. Unfortunately it didn't subside and I had that feeling the entire run. I still tried to hold a strong pace and right off the start I passed about 6 guys within the first 2kms. We went down into the weaselhead and I hit the first hill, it was a grind but I made it up and started to see some incredibly fast pros going the other way. Tim Don is a monster and he was just hammering the entire run, absolutely burying himself for the win. I had seen him in a couple ITU races and he looked fast but in comparison to the other ITU guys normal here he was just making everyone look slow. I kept my pace up until the turn-around and I started to catch this one guy who asked me if we were in the same age group, he was 33 so I promptly said no and he either found another gear to hang on to me or I slowed down because there were no more rabbits to catch. We ran together most of the way back but when we hit the 2nd hill I started to fade badly. I knew it would be difficult to hold on at that pace for the full 21k but I was just hoping the breakdown would come close enough to the finish that I could sprint it out. We climbed the hill but he got a little gap on me and the next thing I knew 10m turned into 30m and I was just struggling to keep my legs turning over. The stabbing quads remained and how there was a stabbing diaphragm as well. I slowed for the final 3-4kms, it was close enough to the finish I tried to stay with it mentally but at that point 12 minutes of running was excruciating. I was thinking 3 minutes of running was no longer possible. I took it km by km and slowly grinded towards the finish, there was a 610m to go mark on the road and I actually had the thought that I might not make it but I didn't want to start walking in front of everyone so I just did what I could and I felt like I was crawling to the finish. I was very happy to have pulled off a 1:24.05 run and a 4:18.57 final time for 3rd in my age and 27th overall!
Suffering at the finish
After the race I went up to Amber and hugged and had a picture taken with her and then I found a grassy area where I laid there for a very long time. I went to a place in this race that I haven't been to in a long, long time- Ironman Canada 2011- and I'm ecstatic that I got the race I was hoping for in 2013. My legs took a very long time to recover and even 5 days later I still have some residual soreness. I have to thank Amber for being such a great support throughout this year, I love you very much for all you've done to keep your family happy and healthy. Also a big congrats to Kevin and Doug who both qualified for the 70.3 Ironman World Championships in Vegas! Amber is the ultimate coach both of her Speed Revolution athletes are in Vegas!! Awesome!!
My biggest supporter, thank you babe

Monday, July 15, 2013

Gearing up for Calgary

Another rainy indoor ride
A couple down weeks after IM CdA and I thought everything was just great, my toe had gone back to normal I was over my deep fatigue and started some easy training again. I was out for an easy run with Amber and Ryder and all of the sudden my left calf cramped up worse than I have ever experienced. I tried to stretch it out but something had happened in there and I couldn't work it out, it was only an easy 8k run but it was probably due to some post IM problem. I was very careful not to start back training too soon and I knew it wasn't an injury but just some sort of deep muscle cramp that wouldn't go away. I took a few days off running and went out for an easy long run, or what I thought was going to be a long run, but I had to stop after 5 miles- I could tell I was just doing more damage so I went to Anodyne and had it worked over today. Hurt like hell, my therapist loves the Graston tools and I feel like my calves went through a meat grinder afterwards but immediately I could tell it helped.

I've been spending more time in the water and on the bike other than running but I love training for a 70.3 over IM, especially with a new family. I can be out for a 3 hour ride and have the rest of the day with my favorite people, pre-IM it was a 6 hour ride and I would be too exhausted to do anything with Amber and Ryder. Amber's been getting back in the pool and out on the bike now too, now that I have a bit more time and the weather is nicer. It's so great to see her get out and spend just an hour doing something just for her.
First outdoor Ride!
She's not interested in doing anything over an hour and how can I blame her, she has this face waiting for her at home;
Beautiful Boy

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ironman Coeur d"Alene 2013

Ironman is such a cruel event, there is little margin for error and when things start to go wrong it's really hard to get it back on track. That being said I can't be disappointed with a 10:27, I worked really hard leading up to this race and although I struggled on the run I never gave up. I was suffering so bad during that marathon that it reminded me a lot of Kona. That difficult- run 200m, walk 100m, run 200m, walk 100m, repeat... was really tough for my ego to take but I had issues with my stomach and feet.

My cheering squad
The race itself is really well organized and a great location, I would definitely do it again some day. The swim was a two loop course which I think I prefer because it gives you a shorter distance to concentrate on and breaks it up a little. The rolling start was a good idea as well, you seed yourself in the proper swim wave and you are surrounded by swimmers that are all about the same speed. I put myself right at the back of the first wave, which was under 60 minutes and I thought if I can have my 'A' race swim I would be under an hour. There is no hurry to get in the water when the gun goes off your time doesn't start until you cross the starting mat. The start of the swim was the usual punching and kicking for the first 800m until the turn and I tried to find some good feet to draft off of but kept getting pushed off or losing the person in front of me because they would take a couple strong strokes and be long gone. I'm glad I started in the first wave though because I felt like I pushed myself to keep the pace up while not going too hard for 3.8k. I came out of the water after the first loop and saw 28mins on my watch, wow great that gives me 32mins for the second loop which I knew would be a little slower. I tried to remind myself of my 3 important rules for having a good swim; 1. stay at your aerobic capacity, 2. swim in a straight line, and 3. DRAFT and I ended up having the best swim of all my 8 Ironmans; 58.55. Great start to the day!
Swim practice just outside the cabin

Transition went fairly smooth and I was on my bike in good time, I was excited to have the swim over with and to have had a great start. I was hoping for a sub-hour swim but never really thought I could pull it off. The first part of the bike is awesome, you roll through town and along the lake for 10k and back and it goes by really quickly. I knew once we hit the first big climb I would have a lot of people flying past me but my race plan was to keep the heart rate in the 140s- low 150s and I should have a lot left over for the run. Once we started climbing I was shocked a little at how much it took out of me, I was okay with being passed by all the strong cyclists but didn't expect my legs to start cramping after the first 90k.
On my way back to town
Kevin on his way to a new Ironman PR

I was staying on track with my nutrition but I don't think my body was ready to train in the heat, as soon as the temps started rising my legs started to do funny things and once I hit the big climb for the second time my hamstring completely seized up.... Ugh, "okay this is the problem how do I fix it" I swallowed two salt tabs right away and it got a little better but that should have been an indicator that I needed to take more salt. After that my stomach started to act up and all of the sudden I couldn't drink any more, I tried drinking more water thinking I was just dehydrated but I could tell my body wasn't getting enough calories or salt. The leg cramps and upset stomach continued for the next 70-80k and at that point I didn't feel like I was riding hard any more, just riding to survive. I tried to stay positive and keep in mind that IM is a long event and you can go through bad patches and still have a great race if you don't get down on yourself. I kept my 3 rules of the IM bike in mind; 1. focus on getting in your nutrition, 2. hold back enough to stay aerobic, and 3. don't worry about your place in the race. I came off the bike in a disappointing 5:36 but I really struggled in the 2nd half so I was okay with starting the run under 6:40. Considering I only got in 4 1/2 bottles out of my 6 on the bike I knew it was going to be a tough run.
The Ironbaby cheering me on
Starting the run
Finally finishing!

I tried to regroup at the beginning of the run but I made the mistake of doing something new on race day and ran with elastic laces, big mistake... my feet felt like they were being crushed with every step I took. I couldn't do anything about it now so I just had to suck it up and live with it. At the end of the race my big toe had a massive bruise and was swollen to about twice it's normal size. It's 10 days later and I can still feel it but the swelling and bruising has gone down. Every step was complete agony but I did my best to keep running (or shuffling) and stuck with my water, coke, ice strategy through each aid station. I finished the first loop in 1:35 which is painfully slow for me but if I could do that again I could pull off a sub-10 race. The second loop was when my stomach issues started again, I had to do a lot of walking and when I ran it was really slow. I couldn't stomach any more water or coke so I knew that I needed salt badly, I was taking salt tabs but it obviously wasn't enough. I grabbed a handful of chips at a couple of the aid stations and all of the sudden I started to feel better. Too little, too late unfortunately and although I did run the final 4 miles I walked so much of the 2nd loop that I ended up with a 3:46 run and a 10:27.43 final time.

Like I said I can't be disappointed with a 10:27 race, I worked really hard in training and I'm happy with the day. There are a couple things I would have done differently but I have to keep telling myself that I did everything I could possibly do on that day and the end result is that I am now an 8 time Ironman finisher. I'm so grateful to have done this race and it was a sacrifice with Ryder's arrival in February to find the time to train but Amber has always been my biggest fan and I couldn't have done it without her. Thanks to a loving and supportive family I am able to live the active and healthy lifestyle I love so much. I also have to thank Robert, Steve, and Kevin for keeping me motivated out there, it would have been so easy to just walk the marathon but knowing that they were out there suffering too kept me 'racing.' Congrats to Steve and Kevin for setting IM PR's out there, great work!
Steve and Robert at the bike drop off

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Dog Days Of June

It's post May long weekend and June has been a challenge when it comes to getting in some good training. Not that it's really that necessary any more, I raced the Press Run a week after the Jasper training camp and ended up running 97kms that week. It did a number on my knees and I struggled with a right knee issue on the bike for a couple weeks. I also did another 180k ride with Steve the following weekend and a 30k and 34k run, these are the weeks where training starts to feel more like a job and last Thursday when I had to do a 30k run I was really dreading it. There always comes a point in the training where you wish it was over and you could just do the race now, but I'm grateful for the rest I've been getting this week. It came at a good time because now I've been fighting a moderate flu, which I'm hoping is just a couple day thing. It couldn't have come at a worse time, the only thing you have to do in the 2 weeks leading up to an Ironman is not get sick...

Well I guess it was somewhat inevitable after a terrible April where I was sick ALL the time, May was fantastic and I had my best training month ever. June started off okay but my body was starting to break down and it simply needed some forced rest. I'll be okay by the weekend it's just frustrating to lose a little fitness leading up to your big event for the year. Regardless I'll still have an incredible race and I'm now thinking a 9:30 is possible if all goes well, it is my 'stretch' goal and I'll still be very happy with anything under 10hrs. Based on my training though I feel like a 1hr swim, 5:15 bike, and a 3:10 run is possible, add in 5 mins for transitions and there is the 9:30. Of course anything can happen on the day and it's predicted to be 30'C, the warmest day we've had was about 23'C so we'll have to see how my body reacts to the heat. I've done my share of ice baths and cold rides this year so maybe I'll finally get to feel warm.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Racing and Resting

It's been a lot of fun training this year, with 3 of us from GP doing IM CdA there is always someone ready to swim, ride or run with. Some of us are getting to the point now where we wish the training was done and we could just do the race next week but I'm going to enjoy the next 3 weeks of training before probably the last Iron distance event I'll do for a very long time. Last weekend the boys went out for a long ride and I decided I wanted to get in a race before IM, it was my first race in over a year so I was a little apprehensive but I just wanted to go out and have fun.

It was a 1/2 marathon and my strategy was to stick with the lead group or individual until the final 3kms and then go for it. The risk was that the lead group would be running 3:30 mins/km and I knew I would be hurting if I tried to hold that for 21kms. Fortunately the guy I was running with was pacing along at about a 4:08-4:10 min/km pace and I found that to be very comfortable. I stayed on his shoulder for the full 18kms and I'm sure he didn't like that one bit, he slowed down, I slowed down, he would speed up, I would speed up. For over an hour we raced like that and I was thinking 'this is awesome I feel great, why have I not raced like this in the past.' when we started the final loop around the reservoir I said thanks guys to the two I was running with and started running 3:34 mins/km for the final 3. No one else was in sight after the first km and I won by about a minute. Not how I normally race, but I wasn't interested in setting a new PB and I didn't want to go to that place of suffering for a 1/2 marathon. I had an incredible time and even managed to do a short 60km ride afterwards, the ride was actually harder than the race I had some serious stomach issues and needed to turn back early.

The last week has been rough, a lot of us are feeling broken down with all the hard miles. I didn't realize but I had run about 97kms that week of the race and my right knee was seriously hurting me. I took a couple down days and went for some Graston at Anodyne as well as a slight bike adjustment from Robert and it seems to be feeling better now. I have a couple more heavy training weeks and I should be ready to go, I need one more good long run, a moderate bike and a few long swims and then it's game on! After all this hard training I'll be looking forward to a little rest, Ryder has the right idea.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Now We're Rolling

This weekend is always one of the highlights of the year for me, May long-weekend training camp in Jasper. It was an incredible time with some great friends and wonderful family time. I know that Amber has really taken on a lot by herself with Ryder and I appreciate everything she's done to make my Ironman dream possible this year I can't thank her enough. I want to throw everything I have into this race and have a great result and then take a few years off, spend time with family and just enjoy being healthy and active with both of them. I never thought of Ironman as a sacrifice before, sure the training was hard but it's just what Amber and I did with our weekends in the summer. Now I know what a huge sacrifice it is for athletes with families, no resting on the couch when you get back from a long ride- the baby has been screaming all day and you need to bounce him. Amber has done an incredible job with Ryder during this challenging stage of his life and I'm going to be her support crew next year or whenever she wants to take on a 'big goal' again.

This weekend was full of tremendous training, we arrived on Thursday afternoon and Ryder survived his first big car trip, a few more pit stops than usual but he did great. I woke up Friday morning to get in a good swim and had the rest of the day with A & R to check out Jasper, we drove up to Maline Lake only to find the resturant wasn't open until the next day. Both starving we drove back down the mountain to have an excellent lunch at Jasper Park Lodge. We went back to our cabin and everyone else started to trickle in, we let them get settled and had an 'easy' run with Steve, Robert, and Richard. I say 'easy' because Jasper 'easy' is nothing like Grande Prairie 'easy' running in the mountains is so much fun and I love to hammer the climbs and Steve was right there with me so we had a blast pushing each other for 10k through the trails.

Saturday was a short swim (2500m) followed by a long bike (170k), the ride started off well enough we rode out to the BC border; fairly flat terrain but Richard wanted to start off fast and I should have known better, he never does as long of a ride as we do. We rode back to town and out towards Marmot Basin and once we hit the climbs that's when the suffering really started, two 1500m climbs later I was spent but I really wanted to get out to Athabasca Falls so Robert went back to the cabins and Steve and I did the other 55k to the falls and back, it was tough. I took care of my nutrition and had a drop box at Edith Cavell so I ended the day fairly strong.

Sunday was another fairly long ride (105k) to Maline Lake and it is 50k uphill and 50k downhill, so much fun. There were a TON of cyclists on the road and it was a blast flying past them, I have to admit I loved that part. The descent was very cold at the beginning but once you came down about 10-15k it was fine. We got back to the cabins in good time and I attempted a T-run but again the hills sapped my legs and it turned into a run-walk. I learned to stay positive on the times I did have to walk and that's really going to help for IM. All in all a fantasitic weekend with friends and family and I can't wait until next year! Ryder loved it too.

Monday, May 6, 2013

In The Bank

Well if April's training was a disaster and I really needed to have a solid May then I'm off to a good start. I don't want to jinx things but so far I've been healthy and my body seems to be reacting to the training well. That's not to say I'm not tired or sore, there is plenty of that, but it's nice not to feel sick all the time. Saturday was only my 2nd ride outside for the year and it was a BIG one, we planned on doing the Rycroft-Wanham-Bezanson-GP loop which is about 174k. I think at the beginning we were all planning on doing another 6k around the lake but by the time we got back home we were all so wasted- there was no more riding or running, no way. We also planned on a 5k run but the first long ride of the year and you have to expect that it's going to take a lot more out of you than usual.

Things started out rough, 5k in and I got a flat, another 5k later Geoff got a flat but fortunately that was it for the day. We took it easy out to Rycroft, it's a nice somewhat downhill ride for about 67k and we were all using each other well drafting in the crosswinds. A quick refuel of the water bottles and we were off again, another 23k with a massive tailwind was a lot of fun but I kept thinking how much I was going to pay for it later in the ride. The road out of Wanham is very isolated and we didn't see much traffic which we were thankful for because with the crosswind coming from the west we were lined up diagonally across the road to stay in the draft. At about 100k we hit the hills and the day started to heat up, we started off with arm and leg warmers but by this point it was getting hot out.

As soon as we started climbing it was obvious I didn't have the climbing legs I normally have and I guess that was to be expected, I've done very little climbing in the past few months just focusing on endurance building. I was hanging on at the back of the group and started to go cross-eyed, I had my front wheel straddling Robert's back wheel and the next thing I know I'm rubbing against his wheel. Ooops, I rode into the ditch and managed to stay upright but Robert looked back fearing the worst. I was okay just a little embarrassed- I pulled myself out of the ditch and latched on to the group again and managed to get through the hills with a little energy left. A Roctane gel help revive me and I was feeling okay once again for the next 40k until we hit Bezanson. I think everyone was secretly dreading the tough slough back from Bezanson because we all knew it was a 25km stretch that was going to take an hour in the wind.

We started off okay, each one of us was taking turns pulling at the front for a couple minutes and with 4 of us it was nice to have a break. However in the heat it became apparent that everyone was hurting badly, at one point I was leading with about 13k to go and I looked back and the other guys were gone. I said to myself that I could soft pedal until they caught up but Robert told me earlier to go ahead that he was cramping badly and was just going to soft pedal slowly into town. So with only a short ride left I gathered all the energy I could to finish things off in a terrible headwind and managed to get in 175k in 5:22, I'll take it for the first long ride of the year. It's obvious I need to concentrate on my climbing in the coming weeks but I have time to improve on that. Put that ride in the bank and I'll be looking forward to a couple more big deposits in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tough Times

Every month I track my training pretty closely, sometimes it's motivating other times, it's not. April was one of those months where it didn't seem to matter what I did- I was going no where fast. I think every athlete at some point has certain times in their lives where they feel like they are trying to do everything they can to make forward progress but nothing seems to be working. After having a really good solid month of training in March, being injury free and feeling good, April set me back big time. I was sick for a total of 10 of the 30 days and the remaining time I was just trying to get in training here and there whenever I could. Not a great confidence builder as I prepare for IM CdA but I'm still trying to be positive, realizing that I have a great base built as I move into May. The weather is finally looking like it will be great, I didn't have one outdoor ride in April because of weather or sickness.

I'm also getting a broader perspective of what it means to be able to do Ironman, it is a tremendous sacrifice for a new father to leave the family and train for hours on end. I'm not sure how a lot of families manage because when I'm not training, I'm helping Amber with laundry, meals, cleaning, or just holding Ryder. I love to do those things but it's quite a change from both of us finishing a 6hr ride and crashing on the couch for the next 8hrs. I'm sure it gets a lot easier as Ryder becomes older but after this race I need to take some time off for a couple years, do some fun family things and perhaps when he's older look at a destination race again- with the family. Don't get me wrong I'm really happy I can do Ironman in June but this year more than ever I'm going to enjoy a break from the long training and focus more on fun activities. Based on how my body is reacting to the training load in April, I think it will enjoy the break too.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I know everyone has been hearing news of the Boston Marathon bombing and the reactions range from shock, awe, anger, frustration, and sadness. It's hard to imagine the point the person or persons were trying to make when they bombed an iconic event like this. One of the greatest attributes of an endurance athlete is their ability to endure in the face of incredible obstacles. For someone to think that they are going to strike fear in the hearts of marathoners, has no idea what it means to be a marathoner. When you train for an event like the Boston Marathon you complete against some of the best in the world and the fact that you need to qualify to get there shows the level of commitment and dedication that these athletes have. For someone to think that bombing a marathon will make these people afraid and keep everyone locked up in their homes, they are dead wrong! Us as endurance athletes will rise up in the face of these cowards and come back to compete in MORE events and become even MORE dedicated to doing the things we love.

Running is the purest form of endurance activity and something that everyone can do, the meditative state you achieve in endurance running calms the soul and makes you see things differently. If the reaction during the terrorist bombing of 2001 was to go out and kill those responsible, the reaction to this bombing should be- lets go for a run...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Getting There Slowly

Training this year has been educational to say the least, coming back from an injury I was hesitant to do anything too hard or fast in order to avoid a repeat of last year. Then of course the biggest change in any one's life, having a child can add to the overall workload at home and sleep deprivation. Thankfully Amber has been incredible looking after Ryder and those two are so cute together, it is true what everyone says- having a child changes your life so dramatically that your priorities shift. However I don't feel like a different person, I still want to train and race I just see Ryder as another member of our small family that will one day be able to join in our fun. I have found finding the time to train has been harder but I still look forward to getting on the bike, going for a run or swim as much as ever. I do realize that training for an Ironman once Ryder gets a little older is not possible, right now it's okay but I think I'm going to take a few years off Ironman training after this year. I can still see myself training for 1/2 IMs or marathons but the workload involved with IM is simply not possible.

This weekend I started to come out of the latest flu I've been fighting and had some great training even though it was all indoors. Yes it's April but there was a massive dump of snow this weekend and the temperatures plummeted. So after a tough 100k ride last weekend I got back on the trainer and did 100k followed by a 10k run on Saturday and a 36k ride followed by a 24k run on Sunday. It was tough and I'm still recovering but it's nice to see that some of my endurance is coming back and all the hard work in March is starting to pay off. There are only 10 more weeks of training for IMCdA so I better get in some more distance soon, otherwise it's going to be ugly.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

FTP Test #2

There is a lot of research around lactate threshold, functional threshold power, and W/kg numbers and this year I decided to add a little science to my training. The one thing I'm realizing is that if you are an athlete who is motivated by the numbers and that motivates you to train harder (or better) it can be a very useful tool but if you are an athlete who is motivated by the training itself and seeing fundamental changes in your athleticism then it's probably a waste of time. I would say that I'm probably somewhere in the middle, I'm not completely motivated by analyzing the raw data and understanding what it means from a training perspective but it is useful to know that the work I'm putting on a day-to-day basis is producing changes in my fitness over the long-term. That's really where the 'art' comes into it, how do you balance the necessary improvements in your fitness by breaking down your muscles with the necessary recovery needed for those muscles to adapt and improve. It's a very tough thing to do but my body seems to tell me, I'll have a couple weeks of really great training and then I'll need a week of light to no training at all. A 2 week build 1 week recovery cycle is not a bad long term plan to follow but it does make it difficult when you start to feel really good and you know you need to hold back so you can fully recover.

In January I had an idea to start testing everyone's W/kg to make sure that the training we were doing is providing tangible results and to give us a benchmark to start from. It was a pretty sorry sight back then how out of shape we all felt and a 30k TT was so painful that everyone was knackered for quite a while afterwards. Well this week a few of us that are doing IM CDA tested our W/kg again and although the TT was no less painful it did show that we are all headed in the right direction. Somehow Robert managed to gain 0.5kg from January to March but given his reduced muscle mass over the previous
6 months it's probably not a surprise. The results from this weeks test are; Robert +13.8% improvement, Steve +17.1% improvement, and me +8.8% improvement. I'm still trying to keep most of my training in the zone 2-3 range and it's starting to pay off, I've dropped 2.5kgs and I feel fitter as I move into the critical months, April and May. These two months are going to determine how I'm going to do in Coeur d'Alene; if I can focus on the proper training 'cycle' then the results will come, I'm doing the right thing I just have to make sure I focus on my own training and I don't get caught up in what others are doing- tough when you train with other people but I've typically just done my own thing anyway. One more big weekend in March, I'm looking forward to a wonderful Easter with Amber and Ryder and then the outdoor training begins!!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Now I Understand...

It's always been a bit curious to me why I would see some phenomenal triathletes fall off the training and racing map as soon as they have kids but now I completely understand why. It's an amazing life change to have this little person consume your entire life but it's also really hard to prepare for an Ironman during this time. My advice to anyone who is about to have a kid is don't plan on racing for a while after they are born. It's not that I can't train, Amber has been amazing at taking care of Ryder- realizing that I need to train for the next few months and she has taken tremendous care of him but the motivation to train hard just isn't there like it used to be. Fortunately Ironman is hard and scary enough that I've been getting off my ass to get in the pool, on the bike and on the treadmill but this weekend I've been sick and it's been pretty nice to just spend some down time with Ryder and Amber.

I'm not worried that I won't be ready for CDA in June, I know there is still sufficient time to prepare and I'm happy to be doing an early season race to have all summer to do family things. My training has been progressing since January but it's been progressing on my usual pace, preparing for a 1/2 in June/July- I'm going to have to step things up very quickly and being sick this week doesn't help. I am starting to feel a little better this weekend and I know I'll be back to 3hr rides in the basement soon but those 3hrs will have to turn into 4hrs and then 5hrs if I'm going to be race ready. For now I'll take a 'sick week' and just enjoy time with family for a while. How can you leave this beautiful little face to turn pedals in the basement for hours at a time.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Now Life Will Never Be The Same

It's hard to describe the feeling you have of welcoming your son to the world, I have never been more happy or tired before in my entire life. On February 12th after a long, long labour Amber and I welcomed a new member to our little family- Ryder Darin Hunter a healthy 7lbs 8ozs and he has been a handful. I told Amber that I can see why most people decide to start having a family earlier than we decided to, my ability to function on 3-4 hours sleep is not as good as it was in my 20s. That being said I know I am better prepared emotionally and financially to support a family now than I was in my 20s. It's been a great week with Ryder and I have to give a lot of credit to my beautiful wife for taking on the work of raising a newborn, without her determination to have a child last year he probably wouldn't be here- thank you babe. It's is such an amazing experience to hold your son and know that he is full of promise and potential. I know that the excitement is just getting started but I'm so incredibly overwhelmed with the idea and responsibility of being a Dad.

As for my training, well it's pretty much impossible to train for an Ironman on little to no sleep so I feel like I'm starting from scratch again. One week of no sleep and another week of recovering from it has left me with a little bit of work to do. I can see now why a lot of triatheles take a few years off Ironman training until their children are a little older and more self sufficient. Amber's done a great job at recognizing that I need to sleep and she has taken Ryder out of our room when he needs to eat in the middle of the night. I'm starting to feel a little more normal this week and I managed to do a 1500m TT in the pool in 23:00, not bad but still some work to do there. The biggest challenge I'm finding is getting on the bike consistently- I'm still only able to fit in 2 rides a week and come March I'd like to get that up to at least 4 times a week. Running is going okay I don't have any more achillies issues and the time off has helped my knee, I'm not race ready but I know that a few runs a week and I'll respond very quickly.

March is the month when the 'serious' training begins and I have to really get to work in the following 90 days to incorporate some bricks, intervals, and longer rides/ runs. I have plans to continue the 2hr+ rides on Sunday and 13 mile+ runs Saturday but I think I'm going to start running after every ride just to get the legs used to running after riding. The base training in the past two months has been really beneficial and I'm feeling a lot fitter and ready to attack the hard training that's ahead in the coming months. We'll see how realistic my plans are but with the great family support I have I know that I'll have an incredible Ironman in Coeur d"Alene.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Triathlon and Aging

I think all athletes like to feel like they have taken such great care of themselves that they are the exception to the aging process. True that being physically active can make you feel very young and fit but age catches up to everyone and trying to hold on to my athleticism while getting older is a tough thing to do. I think all my hard training in my 30s is really starting to catch up to me and now I physically can't do the training I used to just a couple years ago. I've stated before that actually participating in a tri is more important than winning and while I want to be physically active for the rest of my life I'm not sure I believe that. The truth is I love winning or placing near the top of most races, it brings an incredible sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that all the hard training was worth it. I'm not saying I won't be a competitive age grouper any more but I can definitely see how it is going to be very difficult to break some of the PR's I've set in the past.

I've been going through this pattern of having a good training week or two and then my body is so broken down that I need to have a week or two off. I'm so excited to be training again I think I immediately want to start two-a-days. It's not necessary right now and I can tell I'm suffering from the same thing Alberto Salazar went through, years and years of smashing yourself into the ground has led to adrenal fatigue and every time I try to up the intensity I get sick... Frustrating, yes but that doesn't mean I can't compete any more it's just that my method of peaking for a race is going to have to change. Amber is focusing on just getting a consistent base built for me right now and I know it's the right thing to do but very hard to hold back. There are plenty of days where I felt like I haven't done enough, however I know that I only need a solid 12 week build and I'll be ready. We are 18 weeks out so I still have a good 6 weeks of base building and then I'll move to 2 workouts a day with more intensity thrown in there.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Back Into Some Consistency Again

I'm finally starting to get back into some consistent training once again, making sure that I keep everything slow and steady zone 2 efforts. I definitely don't want a repeat of last year and right now I'm feeling good about just being able to do regular daily workouts. I know I'm not in good shape right now but I'm learning that part of the ability of athletes who race year after year is going through a regular process of de-training and building slowly.

I'm in the build phase now and just to see where I'm at I did a little 30k TT on the trainer with fellow triathlete Steve yesterday. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be and I managed to average 279W at a weight of 77kg giving me a 3.62W/kg starting point. The idea behind using W/kg allows all of us to compare 'relative fitness' because of course lighter athletes don't need to push the same wattage to maintain the same speed as heavier athletes. Also as I continue training I will hopefully see an increase in lean body weight and this will equal a higher W/kg number. My power might not change but if I'm losing body fat I should see a higher W/kg number and by definition a faster speed at the same level of power. This is the primary reason a training buddy (Robert) can go the same speed as I can at a much lower wattage. He is a 60kg athlete and he averaged 195W for the 30k TT; giving him a 3.25W/kg number a little lower than mine but he's also starting from 0 on the bike, he hasn't done any riding in months but it won't take him long to get back to 220W (giving him a 3.66W/kg number).

So if I continue the slow steady training I should remain injury free and as I build the distance my weight should slowly drop and lean muscle mass increase. I realize that there is a critical tipping point where my power will suffer if I try to get too lean and for me it seems to be between 73-75kgs (160-165lbs) my typical Ironman race weight is about 165lbs and my off season weight is about 175lbs. So I'll give myself a few months to get back into race shape and then start sharpening up with some interval sessions once the outdoor training begins. I've never prepared for a June Ironman before and it's going to be interesting to see if my body responds to the low-slow training the same way as it does to the hard-fast training I usually do as I prepare for IM CDA.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

The New Year is always a great time to reflect on the past year and see what went well and what you feel like you could have done better. It's also a great time to set some new year's goals and 2013 is no exception. Of any year I know this year is going to bring the most change to our lives, our baby boy is about a month from joining us and we're both really, really excited to have him in our modest little family. Amber is getting incredibly uncomfortable and is ready to be done with pregnancy, she's hurting all the time and he's starting to become very strong! Yes he has his daddy's genes so the hyperactivity has started already- he's going to need a lot of sports growing up.

As for me I think the biggest realization I had during 2012 was that I can't train the way I used to. Going hard all the time will work really well for a short period of time (2-5 years) but if I want to keep racing into my 40s then I need to have an off-season, a build, and a peak. So after recovering from an injury for 8 months I feel sufficiently 'de-trained' and I'm ready to start building again. The thing I'm realizing about me is that I have to be going full bore or nothing at all, so I'm trying to find that middle ground where I feel like I'm training enough but not so much that I'm doing damage. I started the year with an easy 50 minute run- in the past I would have felt like that isn't sufficient enough for Ironman training but part of the process is slowly building back while staying healthy and injury free. I just got over one of the worst flu's I've had in about 5 years during Christmas so I'm giving myself a little leeway to build slowly and keep everything in zone 2. A few of us had our VO2 max tested in December so I've nailed down my training zones and it's just a matter of staying in the 'base building' zone for a couple months while I create some endurance again.  

2013 is going to be challenging but my primary focus is on creating a great environment for our baby to grow up and secondary is Ironman Cour D'Alene and Ironman Calgary 70.3. If I can race well and stay injury free then this year will be a tremendous success. Fortunately I have my greatest supporter Amber to help me and we'll be there for each other just like we have been every other year.