Tuesday, June 30, 2009

So after all my complaining...

Went to emergency this afternoon, turns out Guelph General is undergoing a pilot project for a way to speed up emerg wait times, and it works! I was in and out in just over an hour. No fracture, just soft tissue injury and inflammation around the median nerve (think carpal tunnel), which would explain the numbness and the ouchy when I'm riding. So I have the same fiberglass cast I had on my other wrist less than a month ago for a scaphoid fracture, need to take a couple days off biking to let the swelling go down. Might need to wear a carpal tunnel brace for riding for a week after that. Nothing serious as long as I take recovery seriously and let it heal, this will be good practice for learning proper recovery! And maybe next time I crash I'll let my collarbone break my fall like a true cyclist...on second thought, maybe not.

That was still a pretty good rant earlier though, wasn't it? I'm the most articulate whiner there is.

More Angry Ranting

I'm not particularly proud today of my tri suit that says CAN on it. My wrist has been bugging me for over a week now and I finally accepted that it was time to stop ignoring the pain and get it looked at. So I decided I would go to the one and only regular hours clinic in Guelph this morning. I got there 15 minutes after it opened, it was already full with people sitting on the floor, and I was the last patient they registered for the day. By 9:30 they were turning people away, telling them to go home. Is it just me, or is there something inherently wrong with a healthcare system that tells people to go home when they seek medical attention. Especially when the majority of patients are coming in for a fever and flu like symptoms, when there is a so-called pandemic sweeping the world with the first symptoms being flu and fever.

I waited another 20 minutes and overheard the secretary say that there would be an EIGHT hour wait for the last patients that were registered. So I left, deciding that it would be much less painful to ride with what's probably a fractured wrist than deal with the Canadian healthcare system.

Now don't get me wrong, I like the fact that I don't have to pay for healthcare here in Canada. There is a significant percentage of Canadians who would be unable to recieve any form of healthcare without it. But at the same time, there is a significant percentage of Canadians who never get to see their family doctor, have to wait months or years for an appointment or procedure, or leave illness and injury untreated because of the nightmare of wait times in this country. Canada has by far the longest wait times of any publicly funded healthcare system in the world, as well as the least time spent with a doctor once they finally see them (don't quote me on this but I believe the average is 2 1/4 minutes, with the patient having less that 15 seconds to explain their symptoms). Its utterly absurd that someone would have to wait an entire day to get a 2 minute assessment on a cough or a busted wrist. And I'm well aware that I'm just a bum athlete who feels that I'm more important than everyone else because I need to be healthy to do what I do, but my point still stands for those with much more serious ailments.

Someone else in the clinic today said he had waited 7 hours in emergency yesterday before going home and seuchering himself (he was an army medic), and another was put on hold for 3 hours by TeleHealth Ontario last night. Does anyone else see a problem here? Cue the sales pitch for a two-tier system, where doctors will get paid more thus keeping more doctors in Canada rather than leaving for the US where they currently get paid exponentially more, thus reducing wait times for those who still rely on publicly funded healthcare.

So I'm now debating whether or not I want to go across town to emergency and inevitably wait for hours there, or just tape my wrist and get on with training. I hope you've enjoyed my rant and that you don't take it too seriously.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Inspiration



I'll be honest, Saturday afternoon my thoughts weren't the most positive. Not only had I missed a couple big swim workouts with tightness in my shoulder and been riding through pain with what seems to be a more serious lingering problem with my wrist, but yesterday I had the bright idea of doing my warmup for a track session on some crappy trails around the track...and I rolled my ankle and had to limp back to my car then put it on ice rather than banging out km reps. I was not impressed. So I'm sitting at home with 3 injuries - you guessed it, a swimming, biking and a running injury. I needed some inspiration.

While sitting around moping and contemplating how much I really enjoy what I do, I realized that the men's race at the Des Moines world cup was on. Million dollar prize purses usually bring out some pretty special racing, and the guys didn't disappoint. What an incredible race from start to finish with U-23 Canadian Andrew McCartney leading out of the water, a couple breaks on the bike, and a 6 man group of the best runners (and probably the best sprinters) in the sport coming to the front. There have been some pretty incredible finishes on the ITU circuit this year, and this may have been the best with a 6-way sprint for $200 000...and Whitfield won!! Revenge on Frodeno who outsprinted him for gold in Beijing (Frodeno finished 3rd), and Brad Floppy Mcflopperton Kahlefeldt did his usual dramatic flail to get 2nd. I can always count on Simon for inspiration, what an unbelievable athlete. And I shouldn't forget Lauren Groves running her way up from the chase pack to get 3rd in the women's race, well done.

Shoulder is feeling better today, hoping that I'll be good to go tomorrow and looking forward to working hard in the pool again. Ankle seems to be ok, just a little bruised but I'll be fine to get back at it tomorrow. And I'm going to have to get my wrist looked at but its nothing that will stop me from continuing to work my ass off on the bike in search of some much needed fitness.

Connor Hammond is competing in Des Moines today at the Team World Champs, which should be just as exciting as yesterday's event. I'm proud to say that I routinely get kicked in the face by that guy in our swim workouts. He is also a significantly better xbox player that I am. But I'll catch you on the track one day...maybe...probably not.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Full-time Athlete

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a professional athlete and have no desire for a real job? Well me too! As a triathlete training full time, I have come to learn the importance of training smart. That means consistency in workouts, and sitting on your bum the rest of the time. Uhh, I mean proper recovery.

If you want to become a professional triathlete, you'll need some tips for success. First you need a comfortable chair, an even more comfortable bed within arm's reach of that chair, and numerous TV's and couches around the house so you're never more than 12 feet away from a place to sleep. Next, you'll need to find some quality music. After all you're only training 20 hours a week, so between that and sleeping 8 hours a day (plus naps, of course) you'll need some tunes to pass the time. I recommend this, and only this:



If you don't like it, get out of Canada.

Stay tuned for part 2 of "Full-Time Athlete" - The Tough Life: eating 6000 calories a day.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rest week + the key to success

I've been enjoying a recovery week here, following coach's orders to make sleep a priority. I can handle that. And its just as well considering Canada decided its finally ready for summer and its been hot all week. I went for a 45min base run today with a 40 degree humidex, too bad I'm not training for Kona. Felt good though, I love running in the heat. Other than that, I'm working through a couple more tweaks - bit of tightness in my shoulder and I banged up my wrist (not the one I broke 3 weeks ago...) from Guelph Lake last weekend. I should be good to go for a big upcoming training week. Word on the street is we're in for an asskicking in the next few days. And the entire month of July for that matter.

In other news I got all my new Rudy Project gear this week, new sunglasses which I desperately needed, new road helmet to replace my ugly old one, and a bunch of other gear. Very happy with all of it. Every triathlete knows that the key to success is looking fast and being colour coordinated. Results are secondary.
(Edit: I got a phone call from Rudy Project this afternoon welcoming me to the team. How nice! If anyone is looking for sunglasses/helmet/gear drop me a line or leave a comment here and I can get you a discount. Rudy Project has the best, most comfortable products I've used and I highly recommend them.)

And Triathlon Canada must have taken my ranting seriously...believe it or not I recieved my finisher's medal from 2008 World Champs in the mail this week. That's strange, I coulda sworn I finished that race on June 7th 2008. Either they just fixed a mistake, or they proved my point below. Not sure which.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Guelph Lake Tri

This will be a pretty short race report. The best way I can describe today is...blah. I just felt flat. I ended up with a pretty good result in a big field, I just didn't feel great today. I had a crappy swim. I took it out too hard trying to stay on the leader's feet and struggled the last 200m, and got out in 7th. I wasn't happy at all with that because I really worked hard in the water this week and I was swimming pretty well.

I knew that as soon as I got on my bike it was just going to be one of those days. It was a struggle and I didn't make up any time on the leaders. Then my back tire slid out on the turnaround just as I was starting to bridge up, so I lost a few seconds there. I got off the bike in 6th and I was surprised how good my legs felt after not feeling that great on the bike.

At the run turnaround I was 3rd and thought I had a shot at the leaders, so I was disappointed that I didn't catch them. I ended up with the fastest run at 18:03. On one hand I'm happy with the top run time, but I was a bit disappointed as I really wanted to break 18. I was 3rd overall, and won my age group by almost 10 minutes. So in the end I had a good result, and I probably should be happier than I am with that. I don't want to sound like a cocky jerk and be unhappy with 3rd, I just thought I had a shot at winning.

It was the same story as Lakeside, I had a strong run but I'm getting off the bike too far behind the leader to catch them. So I've learned that I need to keep improving in the water, and I need to learn how to ride a bike. A few good pics...






Triathlon Canada

I have some issues, and I think its time for a good long rant. Now I don’t want to piss anyone off, as they are after all the governing body of the sport in Canada. But I received an email from Triathlon Canada yesterday regarding team uniforms for Worlds in Australia this year. First off, there must be some sort of sponsorship issue as Orca is no longer the uniform sponsor, but the team still has to wear Orca clothing. So basically anyone who is going to Worlds for the first time and/or doesn’t have last year’s race wear is S.O.L. unless TriCan happens to have some of last year’s clothing in stock. Not only that, but the kits aren’t being shipped until mid- to late-August. Anyone see a problem with that? I along with numerous other athletes going to Worlds this year, am also racing Nationals in Kelowna in late August and flying to Australia via Vancouver the following week. Therefore, I will not have my kit before I leave for Kelowna. It seems like a rather obvious issue with shipping team uniforms 2 weeks before a race on the other side of the world, that they may be cutting that a bit close. Even if I wasn’t racing Nationals (and one would assume that a significant percentage of those going to World Championships would also race Nationals), TriCan workouts begin in Gold Coast on September 1st. Given the time change in the flight that means that people who planned to get there for the 1st will be leaving Canada on the 29th/30th…so even they probably won’t have their kits before they leave. Now Triathlon Canada is going to be stuck bringing a few hundred clothing kits on the plane so their athletes can actually have the clothing that we paid for a year ago.


I realize that the Age Group Worlds program is not TriCan’s priority, and its understandable with the astounding level of elite competition here in Canada. But age groupers are the basis of the sport, and triathlon wouldn’t exist without them. I would have hoped that they learned from the organizational and logistical disaster of Vancouver last year (sprint distance swim was longer than the Olympic, holding a race on English Bay in early June and not expecting the water to be 51 degrees, and canceling the nations parade due to rain…in Vancouver…). But it appears that this year’s event is no better organized. I hope they don’t wonder why Ironman and Ironman 70.3 is taking over the sport, and why the vast majority of age groupers have moved to long course racing. I’ve probably just pissed off all the wrong people given that I’m hoping to make a career out of triathlon, but I felt the need to express my concerns with a program that is clearly flawed, or at least has no sense of customer service. We are after all paying $400 to TriCan for the right to race for Canada, before even paying for the race fee.



On a more positive note, its pouring rain and I'm racing Guelph Lake in a few hours. Typical. Oh well, shouldn't affect my race strategy of going fast. Race report will come tonight/tomorrow.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A few pictures from Guelph

Speed River - if you don't understand my obsession with the Speed River you have yet to experience the awesomeness of the Hip's new album.

Baby ducks that can draft better than I can


I even get to do hill repeats on my way to the pool!


My stallion getting race prepped...


My pets. I named them Ingred (right) and Raul (left). I watched them grow up from the day they were born in a pot outside my back door
...they flew away on Tuesday :(

I hope these pictures convey the perpetual exhilaration of living in the metropolis of Guelph

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuesday Workouts

Today was a pretty big day. Not crazy hard, just a long day. I wasn't feeling 100% since I missed most of last week, but at least I'm healthy now and can actually do the workouts. This is what I did today.


AM:
45 min spin up to Guelph Lake


3-4k open water swim:
700 warmup
5x(4x50 as - start speed, tempo, tempo, easy)
6x200 descend 1-3 on 3:20
warmdown

75 min base ride home

PM:
Spin to track, 12 min warmup + drills and strides
8x400m on 2:30 - 71-72" pace
warmdown, spin back home

Total: approx 5hrs

I hope Craig doesn't get mad at me for relinquishing all his secrets. Looking foward to Guelph Lake in 4 days, and I'm healthy on race week for the first time this year which is always a bonus. But for now...its sleepy times.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Upcoming Week

Ok I'll actually write a real post this time. I'm on another day off hoping I'm over the cold that's been bugging me for over a week now. I'll guage how it feels tomorrow with a fairly light swim and short base ride. I'm hoping to finish a swim workout for the first time in 5 days.

Next week is going to be a relatively light training week as most of the squad is off to Quebec for junior provincials or the continental cup. My motivation in struggling through the tough swim workouts is to be able to join the guys at continental cups some day. But next Saturday Guelph Lake sprint is on tap for me. Last week at Lakeside was my first tri since the stress fractures in my spine last year, so I held back a little bit just to get a feel for things until I learn how to really push myself again...my average heart rate for the race was a pretty lazy 165. I was also coming off injury and a big training week so I wasn't sure how I would hold up if I tried to push my luck. I had a decent result there and felt great, so I'm hoping to build on that feeling then push things a little further this time.

My goals for Guelph Lake are sub 1:00 overall time, and sub 18 minute 5k run. But I wouldn't be devastated if I did 1:02, as I'm not sure if I have the fitness for a 30 minute bike split on a tough course. I really just want a solid effort, get into a rhythm and see what I can do on the run. But it would be nice to win...

No more amaz-o-juice :(

I've been informed that I shouldn't joke about blood doping and human growth hormone on my blog. For the record I only endorse fruit smoothies and NOT cheating in sport (and if Magic Bullet wants to sponsor me I'll endorse that too). I don't want to have to pee in a cup any time soon. So unfortunately I deleted quite possibly the most ridiculous thing that my mind has ever conjured up. But the good news is that if you read my last post then you really need to find something better to do anyway, so now I get to tell you. Go read Connor's blog for much more insightful posts.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ryan is steaming mad!

Mere words can scarcely express the fiery hatred eminating from the depths of my soul...

Not really. But its been a frustrating week, things haven't been clicking at all. Most likely for two reasons: 1. I raced this weekend, and 2. I shouldn't have raced this weekend. I haven't allowed myself much recovery time after my first real race since last June, and I found that I wasn't 100% over the cold I had last week (I convinced myself that I was so I could race). My training has been really limited by this lingering chest cold and its caused me a lot of problems in the pool this week. I had a lot of trouble catching my breath swimming open water yesterday...which was a bit scary. I felt good for the first 2/3rds of our swim this morning until it hit me. I finally accepted today that I need to stop trying to push through it and just take it easy for a couple days. Therefore...I really don't have much to talk about at the moment.

The good news is my swim form feels like its improving. Its going to take me a while to get used to the volume and the short rest in our workouts. I haven't been paying attention to my pace in the pool lately because I'm still so far behind everyone else, but I think its getting better. Its been a much smoother adjustment in the bike and run workouts, and there isn't quite as strong a "what the hell am I doing here" feeling with those.

I have tomorrow off to try to recover enough to get some more big days in before my next race at Guelph Lake on the 20th. Unemployed bum athlete with the day off + living in Guelph = extreme boredom. Maybe I'll play guitar on the street or buy a puppy to occupy my time.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Lakeside


I had a great start to the season today at Lakeside, despite the illness and injury I've had to deal with in the last two weeks. I had been feeling sick for a few days before the race but I got in a couple light workouts yesterday and felt pretty good. After my swim I went for my follow-up at the hospital for my wrist (trips to the hospital are rarely part of my race weekend routine) and I was cleared to race!

I got to the race site and caught up with some long lost friends from Worlds last year, then down to business. I finally got my race morning routine down both in terms of nutrition and warm-up and I felt great standing on the start line for the first time in almost a year. My race strategy was pretty simple, race smart and be in control, and I also wanted a swim PB. I had a strong swim and got out of the water in 11:19 and hit the mat at 11:27...and for the first time ever I got out of the water in touch of the leaders! Flew through T1 - no wetsuit stripping issues today.

The bike was pretty tough. There was a strong easterly wind which is the opposite of what Lakeside usually is, meaning the longest stretch of the course was into a 30+km headwind. My bike fitness isn't great right now so I decided not to fight the wind too much and save my legs for the run. I had the fastest T2 (wooo!) and was in 7th about 3:00 behind the leader when I hit the run.

I'm pretty confident about my run fitness right now, and although I found I need to work on running fatigued, I had a solid run. I started picking guys off right away and at the turn-around I was running with a dude from C3 and we decided to work together to mow down the rest of them. With 500m left we had made our way up to 3rd and 4th so I decided to go and I outsprinted him for 3rd overall - :40 down from 2nd and 1:30 from 1st. The 2 guys ahead of me were both 10 years older and I won my age group by like 5 minutes. And I beat the only pro in the field.

What else can I say, things went really well today. I stayed relaxed and within my limits, open water swim PB and excellent transitions and that's all I wanted out of this race. My run pace wasn't great but HSBC races always seem to have slow run courses, so beyond that I'm really happy with this early season result. Huge improvement from last year in how I felt and my speed, and I'm only getting faster.


This is the only decent picture from the race

Friday, June 5, 2009

Off Day :(

I don't like days off. At least not when its supposed to be a big training day. When I got up yesterday morning for an open water session at Guelph Lake I just felt totally off. But I really wanted to get the swim in because I'm in love with my new wetsuit. It makes me much less sucky. The only issue I have with it is the arms are so damn flexible, and the lower legs are 5mm, so its taking a while to figure out how to get it off quickly. Ever end up on your bum trying to strip a wetsuit? Me neither, until of course the time that CT is watching. Notes - don't be so gentle pulling it off, DO NOT let it bunch up around my ankles. I know, obvious, but those will be my mental cues this weekend (if Lakeside is a go).

Anyway, I'm taking the day off because I felt sick yesterday and I'm still holding out for the off chance that I may actually race this weekend...for the first time in 51 weeks. Just as my wrist starts to feel 100%, I have a cold 3 days before another race. So today will consist of the rare and coveted morning shower, then sitting on the couch eating, drinking lots of water and tea, and watching SportsCentre a few times over. Maybe I'll have lunch in the park for some fresh air. I know, tough life.

Later on I'll actually be somewhat productive and get my bike race ready (hope I don't jynx it) - tune up, clean drive train, throw on the aerobars, change brake pads and put on my race wheels. If I feel better tomorrow I'll do a pre-race swim and light bike workout with some transition work. Maybe I'll work on getting my wetsuit off as well. If I'm still sick I will be very unhappy with my helper-T cells.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Adventures on Fairview

Today has gone well training wise. Did some drills and jumped in on a few 50s and 100 pull paddles with the rest of the group. Doing 100s on 1:30 hurts when you come in on 1:25, but it was a good workout. More successful than yesterday at least. I'll get there eventually. Then did a 2hr base ride with James Loaring and I'm off for a track workout in an hour (my favourite!).

Excitement for the day came when I got back from my ride in desperate need of a shower and a few thousand calories, and I realized I left my keys in my swim bag which is currently in Craig's trunk...despite this conversation as I was heading out for my ride:
RP-"I'll just pick up my bag at the run workout"
CT-"Are you sure you don't need it before then"
RP-"Nope, bye"

So I spent half an hour trying to pick my lock to no avail. My computer was in my room so I couldn't get Craig's number or my landlord's, but it didn't make a difference because my cell phone was in there too. My room is on the 2nd floor of our house, so after discovering that we don't have a ladder, I happened to spot one in our neighbour's yard. I had to stand on the top rung and popped out my screen (I swear it was bent when I got here), jumped through my window, landing gracefully on my desk and fell onto the floor. All of this was done in my dorky bike gear. But I've seen an abnormally high number of crazy people in Guelph so I don't think anyone took notice to me.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Day 1

Up at 6AM today to start my summer with the PTC squad. Things didn't get off to a great start in the pool, I've only been able to swim a couple times in the last 10 days between the car getting totalled, busting my wrist and moving to a different city. Warm up felt good, although kicking and Ryan don't get along at all. Then I proceeded to get f***ing buried in the main set. I've lost some strength in my wrist and it was bugging me quite a bit (thanks for being patient with me Craig).

Got home, 1500 calories worth of brekky and off for a 30min run before noon. I ran 3:59k's at 153 heart rate, it seems that my pace is increasing at low HR, but I'm still struggling at 3:20 pace for 5k, 3:10s for 3000m. Maybe I should be doing Ironman.

Afternoon session was a 2hr bike with 2x2o min @ 40k TT pace. I stuck with the group the first time through but wasted a ton of energy trying to bridge every gap myself. And I didn't drink enough and I cramped up on the 2nd interval, so I got dropped pretty quickly. Managed to average 38km/h solo and ended up about a minute behind them at the end. I pushed it hard today and still got my arse kicked. I guess I suck more than I thought, nothing like a complete loss of confidence coming up to my first race of the season. But I can only go up!

I was planning on Lakeside this weekend but based on how things felt in the pool today its still questionable. Don't really want to screw myself for nationals and worlds because I wanted to do my hometown race. I'll have to decide in the next few days.