Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Glad That's Over

I hope Santa was good to everyone and I hope all of my competition ate just as many sugar cookies as I did over the holidays. Otherwise I'm pretty screwed. I love the holidays (mostly for the presents and sugar cookies) but I'm relieved to hear normal music again and have my training follow something that resembles a schedule again.

Speaking of music, I haven't posted any in a while! So here's one of my favourite artists covering a Smiths song that, dare I say, is better than the original (Johnny Marr on guitar):



As for training, after a disastrous fall I've put together a good month of work heading into the new year. I just got back from LPC world headquarters where I had 9 workouts in two days (if you count in Brownlee terms). Day 1: 4k swim, 2hr ride with CP5, run off the bike, core. Day 2: 60min base run, easy swim with Mr. Lockdown himself, 60min ride with some work at FTP, short run off the bike and core.

I'm happy with my progress in the pool lately having put some decent workouts in the books. Stroke is getting there, taking things one set at a time and maybe one day I won't lose my races in the swim. Done a few tests on the bike lately and I'm not where I want to be but apparently not too bad for this time of year. If I can't make a pack in the swim I damn well better be able to ride faster solo than a paceline, so that's the plan. And running has all been pretty unstructured given the four feet of snow in London, but things seem to be rolling along well.

Stay tuned for my tentative 2011 schedule. Til next time, counting every rep until I get faster.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Insider's Guide to the Tri-Geek

Perhaps my last post requires some form of definition. So given the popularity of my exposé on the highly secretive (and true) lifestyle of the professional triathlete, here is an insider's guide...for the outsider's benefit.

The common tri-geek (citius fortius geekius) is a harmless and generally pleasant creature but highly complex in it's social and behavioural characteristics. Considered nocturnal for their ridiculously early AM workouts, the tri-geek is rarely seen by the public eye as they are also typically in bed by 7pm. However if one is spotted in it's natural environment they are unmistakable for their key characteristics:



Class 1 Tri-Geek: "Not yet a triathlete"
The fact that someone is merely entertaining the thought of doing something as ridiculous as a triathlon makes you a geek in some way. The class 1 geek will often spend hours on the internet searching though mountains of information to determine whether or not a triathlon is in fact a life or death activity.

Class 2 Tri-Geek: "What am I becoming?!"
Once past class 1, the tri-geek has participated in triathlons and purchased a few of the "essentials" such as a $7000 tri bike, one piece tri suit (similar in form to a standard unitard, but often flashier colours and over $200) and owns an increasingly ridiculous collection of pool toys. The tri-geek is becoming capable of self-awareness: "I think these carbon brake levers are going to make me faster."

Their entire lexicon and thought process are beginning to be consumed by training concepts and goal events, and math capabilities are reduced to counting down the days to NBC's Kona coverage. However the class 2 remains a fully functioning member of society and will still have a few social acquaintances who are not triathletes.

Class 3 Tri-Geek: "What the **** is wrong with you"
The class 3 tri-geek has given up on attempting to conceal their identity (either forced or they just want everyone to know). Easily identifiable through: compression socks and recovery sandals in public, eating organic granola cereal, extensive napping through the day, and owning any combination of:
1. Normatec MVP
2. aerodynamic water bottles
3. freestyle snorkel
4. Ironman credit card (I assume they have a $4 million limit if WTC makes them)

Perceived value of national currency becomes clouded as the class 3 will often own multiple 4-digit bikes and spend their disposable income on flights and race fees. The class 3 is generally considered a social outcast to all but their fellow tri-geeks. The only good news is, if they find someone willing to listen to their droning about triathlon, they are rather entertaining and interesting beings given their passion and drive to be awesome.

Pro Triathlete: "The closet tri-geek"
Professional triathletes often attempt to mask their identity as a full-blown class 3 tri-geek, but trust me, they're friggin' dorks. The simple fact that they consider triathlon a job provides all the evidence necessary. Social capabilities are entirely replaced by an obsession with training numbers (see bel0w).

The pro triathlete will attempt (unsuccessfully) to talk about things other than themselves, and will often attend post-race "social" gatherings...consisting entirely of other triathletes. While the pro tri-geek occasionally takes on a better-than-thou attitude for their exceptional fitness level, many remain humble and relatively pleasant in company (unless the perpetual scent of chlorine makes you nauseous).

Monday, December 13, 2010

Today in Training

Being the tri-geek that I am, I always need my training "numbers". So here are today's tri-geek training numbers for all my tri-geek bretheren (and sisteren?) to mull over. Nothing crazy, just a fun mid-December day.

AM ~3k Swim:
Main set - 400 moderate, 300 PP steady, 200 tempo, 100 PP hard, 50 sprint
(I told you there would be a lot of numbers)
Down to 1:11 for the 100 PP and :33 for the 50 (I also told you I can't swim)

PM Brick @MultiSport Zone:
75 min Computrainer ride
Main set - 3x 8 minutes on, 2min easy Dec 1-3 from 230W to 290W
1. 236W (36.9km/h)
2. 254W (37.9km/h)
3. 309W (40.7km/h)

30min run off bike
Main set - 5x 2min hill @ 5% grade, 1min easy
10-11.5mph (3:42-3:14/km)

Oh and some core too :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fall Training

I'm not sure why the media feels it necessary to draw comparisons between a snow storm in Canada and the end of the world, but thanks to "Snowmageddon" there is a crap load of snow in London ON. The entire city was shut down for a few days which disrupted my swim workouts this week but I've been getting some good work done on the rollers (has anyone else ever done 2x20 on rollers?) and although the four feet of snow has made 4 minute k's a bit ambitious runs are going well too.

There's no question it's been a pretty inconsistent fall for me. First I broke my foot which put running on hold for a few weeks, then it was a bad cold, then the world apparently ended via snowfall. The good news is I'm not going to be a Chrismas Champion (unless there is a category for most sugar cookies consumed per Kilogram of body weight), and my fitness is right about where it should be for this time of year.

Run training is pretty light right now, mostly base effort with the odd tready run off the bike at Multisport Zone's top notch training facilities, and some snowy/windy hill reps. Based on some 2k reps in the Guelph Arboretum a couple weeks ago my run fitness is just about where I left off in September.

I've always considered myself a runner but over the past year cycling has probably become my strongest discipline. It's a direct result of my training with the PTC (now RTC Guelph) when I simply decided I wanted to become stronger and thus completely redefined my effort level, dedication and pain tolerance on the bike. My passion for riding and messing with my bikes hasn't hurt either. My power to weight seems to be pretty good right now so hopefully after another winter on the rollers and Computrainer I'll be throwing down some strong rides next season.

Next spring I'm looking forward to an awesome new training and racing opportunity on the bike. Apparently all my sign sprinting paid off and I'll be joining the CoachChris.ca road cycling team here in London. Coach Chris has a very strong group and I look forward to benefiting from training with some real cyclists, as well as trying my hand at road racing. Depending on how cycling events match up with my tri schedule I hope to make the jump to Cat 1/2 road riding down the road.

But since I'm not the type of person to focus on my strengths, the majority of my effort in training through the fall has been in the pool. If I didn't already know I was a weak swimmer my sub-par swim splits all season reminded me I have a lot of work to do before getting serious about draft legal triathlon. With the help of some video analysis from Coach James I have completely revamped my swim stroke over the past month. I have to focus on it every stroke of every workout but I already feel more efficient in the water and I have a much better idea of what swimming should feel like. I will be hitting the pool very hard in the new year and I'm hoping for some significant improvement over this past season.

Other than all that...I'm close to hammering out a tentative training/racing schedule for next season. No distractions with long course events and a good number of draft legal races. And even more exciting, thanks to Multisport Zone I have a new toy for the winter and I've started building up a new ride for my non-drafting races next year! More info to come soon...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

...Holidays

While it seems that everywhere else in Canada has been under a blanket of snow for some time now, my 5am drive to swim practice today revealed that London is finally looking the part of holiday season in Canada. And here at Ryan Power world headquarters all holidays are celebrated in a non-denominational, non-discriminatory manner, devoid of anything meaningful or joyous (I don't want to exclude all the depressed and lonely folks over this holiday season).

So have...holidays. Just holidays. Brought to you by a band I usually don't like but they have a pretty cool ...holiday song. Complete with Bono looking like the Geddy Lee of Christmas Past.




Training updates, new toys and tentative 2011 race schedule all coming soon.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Guest Race Report

Once in a while when a friend has a particularly inspiring performance I like to share their race report. Since my races are generally a matter of survival rather than of triumph, and my story of a professional triathlete pursuing his athletic dreams via unemployment and extensive videogaming in his parents' basement is rarely described as inspiring.

This time it's LPC teammate Thierry Guertin's race report from Ironman 70.3 World Championships. Thierry has lost 85lbs since joining LPC and has become an exeptionally strong long course athlete over the past year.

Just before leaving for Clearwater Thierry dropped me hard on a cold and windy 3.5hr ride...in my defense it was my first long ride after breaking my foot, nonetheless a major hit to my ego. But after seeing the bike split he posted in Clearwater I didn't feel nearly as bad. Enjoy:

http://www.tguertin.com/blog/2010/11/21/clearwater2

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Real Ryan Power

It has recently come to my attention that I have an imposter, or perhaps I have uncovered the central character in a diabolical clone plot that threatens my very identity.



Lurking in the kid's 3-5 year old division, this "Ryan Power" completed his 15 yard swim/500m bike/100m run at the Milton KOS...significantly faster than I can swim 15 yards. I'm in danger of losing my title of "fastest guy in the world named Ryan Power" and all the fame and riches that come with it. And I bet he even writes more worthwhile blog posts than I do.

He's trying to take me down, but you must believe me. I am the real Ryan Power! If I ever meet this identity thief in competition, calling him Ry-guy should piss him off enough for me to defeat him.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Clearwater

As mentioned previously, a lot of people are decidedly displeased with the WTC these days. Sure, you can express your displeasure by not signing up for an Ironman event next year (rest assured, someone else will take your spot). But how about Jodie Swallow showing up to Clearwater, wearing her ITU uniform, and sticking it to a stacked field of long course athletes on their turf?



Even leading out swim/bike superstar Julie Dibens by 90 seconds out of the water and holding her off on the bike - on her road bike with shorty aerobars, 38mm rims and a road helmet - on what should be a pure time trial course. How's that for showing the triathon world that WTC is NOT the be-all end-all in our sport?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dear Triathlon,

I think it's time we have the talk. I know the talk is an awkward crossroads in any relationship, and I know you're already all over my facebook profile, but I'm the type of person who needs definitions and labels so this is something that has to happen. Where are we headed together, and what are my goals with you?

I'm going to be brutally honest. Sometimes you really screw me around. I know you're just giving me tough love because you're trying to make me a stronger person, but you kind of piss me off sometimes. You really raise my blood pressure, albeit temporarily. Then you leave me alone in the cold rain, 60km from home with tired legs. All I want is some warm coffee (and a hug if that's not too much to ask), but all I can do is hold back the tears and take the lonely road home.

I'll admit, I'm not all that "experienced" when I strip down to a speedo and let my hips do the talking. But a little gratification once in a while would really boost my confidence...perhaps that elusive sub-20 1500m, or just once catching the back of the chase pack.

But we've also had some great times together. You take me on trips around the world and let me experience things - both outside and within myself - that without you I would have never known. And every time we're together I feel my heart beating out of my chest for you.

I've given it a lot of thought triathlon, and I've decided I want to commit myself to this. I'll stop distracting myself with useless stuff like girls, a social life, grad school, or getting a job. You have my unequivocal dedication for at least two more Olympic cycles...I really want to make those World Cup standards one day.

I'm going to live in my parents basement for the next 10 years, so when I'm not with you I'll either be sleeping or playing video games, no other distractions. I'll do that for you. After 2020 I'll reconsider and perhaps do something with my life. But until then let's give this a shot to work out.

Sincerely,
Ryan

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Leading Life From The Hips

A recent video analysis session with Coach James uncovered something interesting in my swim stroke: It sucks.

More specifically I'm still not engaging my core and leading through the hips. It was pretty evident through the video why I suffer from back problems in swimming and why a 4k workout is usually a near-death experience.

So it's one of those one step back-two steps forward times with my swim training. Short technical workouts, no watching the clock, and focusing solely on driving my stroke from the core rather than my typical forceful and horribly inefficient form.

Bike training is resuming...it seems I missed one of the best fall riding seasons since I started the sport and now I get to train in negative temperatures. At least until the snow flies and I dust off the rollers. I spent most of last week training in Guelph where we got a couple big rides in, and given that I hit a new sign sprint PB (clearly the strongest indicator of fitness) it seems I haven't lost much bike fitness through my month off.

Running is another story. Technically I'm not supposed to be running for another two weeks, but of course I've disregarded that little piece of advice from the well-meaning doctors. There are few things more frustrating than going from the best run shape of my life (I was well under 34 minutes for a cross 10k) to feeling like crap after a 20 minute run/walk. But I'll take fresh air over water running or the ellyptical and choose to disregard the pain.

Other than all that, I've started to put together next year's race schedule. I'm planning at least one winter training camp before once again starting my season in style with a May race in the Caribbean (sadly not St. Croix 70.3 this year). Then I plan to hit the Coteau du Lac Pan Am Cup followed by a new Pan Am race in July, before winding things down with my perennial favourites. Once again next year is all about training development. I don't expect any life-changing results but I look forward to another strong building year.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Breaking" News

Well, I was way off with my Kona predictions. But that's what makes triathlon such an exciting sport. Fitness can be trumped by innumerable external variables. And the race "on paper" never reflects what happens out there a few hours into a race.

Onto my breaking news...my plan to get some serious run mileage in my legs this fall had to be cut short. In my attempt to train for some cross country I got a little over-ambitious with my trail running and broke my foot in what was surely a very stupid and comical manner. My foot has been placed in a space boot until further notice. So no more running this month, and I'll find out tomorrow from the specialist when I can attempt to resume any form of training.

In the mean time I'm bored out of my mind and am considering my options for new athletics avenues. I've narrowed it down to lawn darts, shuffleboard, or downhill cheese racing.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Podium Picks

For whatever my opinion is worth, here's my breakdown of Saturday's events.

Men
1. Craig Alexander*
2. Chris McCormack
3. Terenzo Bozzone

Look for this to be the marathon battle we have been waiting for the last two years between two of the best runners in the history of our sport. It's going to take a course record to win this year, and with the expected weather conditions my bet is Crowie will once and for all show Macca who's boss on the run, with Terenzo breaking through at the Ironman distance for a close 3rd. A lot of people are picking Rasmus Henning for the podium, but I think he's going to cramp on the run. Others like Lieto and Bockel will have strong performances, but won't match the run strength of these three.

Women
1. Chrissie Wellington*
2. Rebekah Keat
3. Tereza Macel

No one is going to be close to Chrissie once again this year. With no one in her zip code look for her to set sights on her own course record and demolish last year's 8:54. The other girls will be forced to go for it on the bike rather than let Chrissie slip away for the fourth straight year. Runners like Mirinda Carfrae and Rebekah Keat will push themselves beyond their comfort zone and lose their chances of making up time on the run. Keat will settle for second with a heroic effort. Tereza is one of the strongest women in the world on the bike and will be in touch with Chrissie to the run and hold on for third with one of the most consistent races of the day.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Kona Lowdown

I have mixed feelings about race week getting underway in Kona this year. While I usually look forward to the live coverage and count the days to the TV special, as I become more involved in the triathlon world through coaching and working at a tri shop, I find the vast majority of triathletes (ie. age groupers) are irksomely naive to anything but Ironman racing.

How are you a pro triathlete if you don't do Ironman?
Isn't short course pretty much just a running race?
Isn't short course pretty much just a bike race?
You're allowed to draft?? That's so easy.
There's no way you can run that fast.

Just a sample of the daily comments I get from people who are either shocked to find that there is a world outside of Ironman, or are so caught up in mainstream or "pop" triathlon that they don't realize Olympic distance racing has more prize money, more international press coverage and stronger elite competition than long course.

While I could ramble about training volume, race tactics and overall talent of successful athletes at either discipline (maybe another time), I'll let the Iron-people have their week in bliss. And I still enjoy the lead up to Kona and will be glued to my computer screen for 8-10 hours next Saturday. So here's my take on the race this year:

Men

The obvious choice:
Craig Alexander - knows how to get it done on the Big Island, has never finished lower than second. He hasn't race much this year, but at a race in which he faced some of the biggest names in the sport (Rev3 Quassy) he ran down everyone to take the title. You can bet Kona has been the only thing on his mind all year. Plus I met him in St. Croix and I have a bit of a man crush.

The contenders:
Chris Lieto - second last year, has had strong 70.3 results this season. Continually proves that if you ride fast enough you don't have to worry about running.
Terenzo Bozzone - ripped up the 70.3 scene all year and second at Ironman NZ, look for him to have a big day at the Ironman distance.
Andy Potts - has found success at every distance, having won his first Ironman at Coeur d'Alene this year. Watch for him to lead out the swim and stay out front for a while.

The dark horse:
Chris McCormack - cocky as hell and almost as full of himself as Normann Stadler, when Macca decides to finish a race he's one of the most successful athletes in history. Won three years ago, DNF (mechanical) two years ago, last year blew up at 10 miles running like an idiot trying to stay in front of Crowie. If his ego doesn't get in the way, Macca could be back on the podium this year.

Women

The obvious choice:
Chrissie Wellington - she did 8:19 this year. Need I say more?

The contenders:
Mirinda Carfrae - based on her recent Slowtwitch swim challenge she can't swim to save her life...but that didn't stop her from breaking the run course record in Kona last year. She's more comfortable on the bike this year so look for her to be fighting for second place again.
Tereza Macel - She's won four Ironmans over the last two years, finished fourth in Kona last year, and she's cute as a button.

The dark horse:
Sam McGlone - I need another Canadian in here. Second place in her Kona debut, she did not race on the Big Island last year but managed a win and course record in Arizona the following month. Look for her to be back at it this year.

Stay tuned for my official podium picks coming later this week.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Nothing new or worthy of mention on the training front, or life for that matter. But since I feel obligated to all of my approximately three dedicated readers, here is another picture of the week.



Tri season is done, ironically just as I'm starting to feel fit. But I plan to hit a couple road races through the fall, and maybe even try some cross, so a real update will come in the near future.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Recovery

A lot of people don't take it seriously, even fewer take me seriously when I tell them I lead a mysterious double life of elite triathlete by day/elite napper the rest of the time. Terenzo knows how it is...



My hero.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Esprit Tri

I started my race season on May 2nd, and it took to mid-September for me to perform to my potential and be completely satisfied with a race. I was happy with my race at provincials, considering I knew I would be relegated to the back of the race given my swim fitness. But Olympic distance is a whole other beast, and it seriously hurts.

I've had a string of bad luck with the Olympic distance over the last two seasons. I was sick for Worlds in Australia last year, and this year I had to pull out of Guelph Lake with injury, then was lapped out at Nationals. Prior to that, I had a good race at 2008 Worlds...but the swim was cancelled there. I have to go back to 2007, my first full season of racing, for my official Olympic distance PB - 2:28.

I finally managed to put together a good race over the distance today at the Montreal Esprit Triathlon festival. The race is unique in that there are five different races that go on the same course (even an ironman!), on the same day. I was a little worried about congestion and drafting, but I was very impressed by the organization and the one of a kind venue.

My race didn't get off to a good start...the pre-race instructions were all in French and there was no countdown. Just a bunch of instructions I couldn't understand, then a half-hearted horn went off a few minutes later. Needless to say I was caught off guard, and got my ass kicked in the swim start.

The swim course is only about 10 meters wide on an out and back course in the Olympic Rowing Basin, so after my late start and getting punched in the nose, kicked in the junk and full on horse-collared and pushed under, I was stuck behind a group for nearly 800 meters before finally finding my way through. I've been in 1000+ athlete mass starts, draft-legal and ITU races, and this was the roughest swim I've ever been in.

I managed to make up a bit of time in the last 700, came out of the water a bit slower that I had hoped but I was happy to be alive and getting on the bike. Now the fun begins. The Olympic course is 9 laps of the wicked fast Gille Villeneuve Formula 1 track. Everyone was keeping honest with drafting, and while I spent my entire ride weaving through long course guys, the multiple laps was a lot of fun and made the ride fly by.

I rode my Powertap so James and I figured if I was feeling good I could aim for 260-270W average. So I locked in at that effort keeping an eye on any wattage spikes and put my head down for 40km. I had by far my best ride of the year - and probably ever - averaged 270W and did 1:02 (edit: Powertap data had my split at 59:23)

The run course wasn't quite as interesting as the bike with two laps around the rowing basin. Which meant 2km of painfully flat and straight pavement, then back...twice. Pretty boring, and very easy to lose focus with my legs burning from a hard ride. I took it out with (what I considered conservative) 3:30 km's which I held up to about 6.5k where the wheels started falling off. At that point it became a matter of survival and a real gut check. I motivated myself by playing this riff in my head (4:33...seriously the coolest riff in the history of music):



The last mile was the longest one I've ever run, but I managed to hold on to a fairly respectable 37 low, and a total time of 2:04:15 for 9th overall at a very competitive race. So officially, a 24 minute PB :) Glad to finally get a decent time beside my name and get the monkey off my back. I will likely end my tri season on that note rather than race Lakeside next week, having finally satisfied the standards I set for myself in racing.

On the international front, some great racing today at ITU World Champs Grand Final, and tomorrow promises to be even more exciting with Paula Findlay gunning for the win and Alexander Hinton competing at his first World Championships in the junior men's race. Best of luck to all, and all age groupers racing in Budapest tomorrow!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Training With Power

No, I haven't changed the title of my blog. Although that would be a rather witty choice of words...

I finally joined the 21st century this week and got a power meter on my bike. The benefits of power-based training and analyzing the quantitative data a power meter provides for an otherwise subjective activity are well documented and practiced throughout the sport...so I'll just tell you how funky it is :)

I decided to go for a Powertap hub laced into a Shimano training rim. I figured this would be the better setup for me, having a couple bikes I train on so I can just swap rear wheels. And also because unless you're nationally carded an SRM will cost you 5 grand.

The system itself is very clean and simple to use, everything is measured internally from the hub so there are no speed/cadence sensors or wires cluttering my pretty bike. The computer head isn't too complicated but displays everything you need on the fly. I had trained with power through the winter on a Computrainer so I already had a general idea of what I was doing on the bike, but within the first 10 minutes on the road I was a convert and found a power meter to be one of the best investments I've made in the sport.

...I wouldn't recommend a power meter to anyone else though, so I can train better and beat you.

Here's my power data from my ride a few days ago. 20min warmup, 5x 2mins hard/2mins easy, then 10mins steady at ~275 watts.



Averaged 349-387W for each 2min interval, then 283W for the tempo (exactly 4 W/kg) which worked out to 38.8km/h. Then I posted a new sign sprint PB in my cooldown: 1288W, 63.3km/h. Fun stuff!

In other news, I've managed to find the motivation for another week of training and I'm headed to the Montreal Esprit triathlon this weekend (I'll be rocking the Powertap to get some race data). I've had my eye on this race for a couple years now, the course held ITU World Champs in 1999 and is known as an exceptionally well run event. Depending on how the race goes and how I feel it will likely be my last tri of the year, but if I feel up to it I might hop in my hometown race at Lakeside the following week.

After that it'll be a bit of relaxation before starting a run focused training block and hit a few 10k's through the fall. I know I'm in the best running form of my life, having PB'd the run at provincials (with a time that included transition) so I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do in a fresh 10k.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Another week, another race

It's a good thing employment is against my principles, otherwise I wouldn't have time for all this travel and racing. Now I just need to figure out a way to pay off this fancy new Powertap.

This weekend I was in Cobourg for my favourite race in Ontario. It's quite the ordeal driving through Toronto on a Friday night to get there, but it's a beautiful little town and the race course suits me perfectly: challenging bike, fast run...and an occasionally cancelled swim.

After a slow start to the season I've now had 4 events in just over a month, not to mention spending a bit of time in Guelph training with the RTC. So rather than another tedious race recap, here is my race in pictures (thanks to professional triathlete/photo journalist Angela Quick).


3rd out of the water

Having some trouble with the borrowed wetsuit

that's a pretty cool bike

I went by this guy like he was standing still at 15k and he came in transition with me...he may or may not have been sucking wheel....

Clearly I need to lose some weight if I want to be competitive

I'm glad there is no photo evidence of the later stages of the run where I was doing my best Michael Raelert impression of rolling up my top and pulling down my shorts. It really does make you run faster.

Second overall with a strong run. No complaints.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kelowna ITU

My homestay buddy Tom "Lockdown" Lokody has been waiting for this post for a while so here goes...

Someday this is going to be one of those inspirational "look how far he's come" stories. For now it's another hard lesson learned in a tough season of racing, and I'm left with a taste in my mouth as bitter as the crappy $3 coffee I had at the airport last night. So here's my most detailed race report of the season.

My training leading up to nationals was as good a training block as I have ever put together. I wasn't swimming as well as I had hoped to by this point of the season with my injury problems stemming from swim training, but overall I was happy with my fitness and was confident going into the race. That is, until I hit the deck hard on my last training ride before packing up my bike and getting on the plane. It was just one of those freak accidents that you can't do anything about (which I was well overdue for having never had a serious crash in training), and as per my luck it came three days before the biggest race of my life.

I managed to shred my jersey and shorts, not to mention my entire left side, and there's a chance I've fractured my scaphoid again. But I wasn't prepared to start making excuses so I packed up my bike (a little worse for wear) and showed up to the elite pre-race briefing covered in bandages. I got a few looks and some "I can't believe you are still racing" comments, but I was taking inspiration from a bumper sticker I saw at the Kelowna airport: "Are you gonna COWBOY UP, or just lie there and bleed?"

The weather in Kelowna was beautiful all weekend...that is until 2pm on Sunday when it began pouring, air temperature dropped to about 15 degrees, and very strong winds made the water reminiscent of Vancouver 2008. No worries, time to cowboy up! I warmed up in a wetsuit then immediately dried off and put on pants and a winter jacket while most athletes were shivering as we began lining up. When we were called to the start line I was more focused than I ever have been for a race. I hit the start hard, not letting anyone push me around and had relatively clean water for the opening 250m.

I settled into a decent rhythm around 400m and found some good feet to sit on. Prior to the race James and I had discussed race strategy, and we both noted that fellow Ontario athlete Jonathon McMillan would be a great guy to find in the swim, as we're similarly weak swimmers but very strong riders. As we came through the opening 750m I saw that it was McMillan who I was with: "Perfect, now stay the **** on his feet!"

After another rough and cold 750 (or more...many commented on the bouys moving, and the men's swim times were slower than the women's so something must have happened) we got out of the water - not last! - and I had to battle my hamstrings locking up from the cold swim as we ran into T1. I had a fast transition, relaxed while Jonathon bridged back up and we got to work. We were working well together, riding very hard and seemed to be gaining time on a few riders up the road. The atmosphere of an ITU event with a multiple lap bike was very cool and kept me motivated to keep the hammer down until we could find some more company.

On our third lap I was starting to get through the cramping and was ready to really start making up ground. I was happy to be executing my race strategy very well and was completely focused on our effort. About half way up our third time on Knox hill my focus was broken by a motorbike pulling us off the road, and about a minute later a monster lead group rolled by. Jonathon and I looked at each other wondering what the hell just happened. Despite our hard riding our race was over and we headed back to transition.

It turned out that our swim times were a full 5 minutes slower than what we did at this race last year (despite both being stronger swimmers now than a year ago), and a ton of guys were lapped out by the lead group of 10 or 12 world class athletes. I was disappointed that I couldn't show off my run form but I knew getting lapped out was a possibility and there was nothing I could have done differently. Even though our race ended abruptly I have to give a lot of credit to Jonny Mac on his work out there.

So I went to the med tent and got my various injuries bandaged again, got another "I can't believe you raced like that" comment and left with some valuable experience in the tough world of ITU racing. I really like the draft-legal side of triathlon, but there is absolutely no room for weakness.

I'm taking this week easy in training and unless I find out that I have a fracture in my wrist I'll race Cobourg on Sunday with something to prove on the run course. I'm looking at my options for one more big race this season, right now I'm leaning towards Ironman 70.3 Syracuse.

A few pics of my shortened race:




Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Race Week

I'm in full taper mode now with my A-race just 5 days away in Kelowna. I've had this race marked since I won the age group sprint race last season and I'm looking forward to stepping up with the big boys. I've fought a bit of inconsistency this year with injuries and lack of training partners, but overall I'm happy with my fitness and confident in my preparation for Elite Nationals.

The start list looks exceptionally strong this year so I have no expectations in the results. This race is going to be about learning how to mix it up with some world class athletes and have some fun while gaining valuable experience in elite racing. It appears to be a relatively large field (~70 men) for ITU which can only help me since it increases the chances of finding company on the bike. I don't want to have to force things on the bike like I did at Provincials, I'd much rather ride within my comfort zone and put in a huge effort on the run.

When I get back I'll take a week to relax before heading to my favourite race in Ontario, Multisport Canada's Cobourg triathlon on the 28th. Since I had a slow start to the race season I'm looking to have some solid performances late in the year. I'm no longer going to PATCO with it now being a qualifying race so after Kelowna I'll decide what I want to focus on...possibly another Continental Cup, or maybe even another crack at a 70.3 (pending coach's approval!)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The 7 Disciplines of Elite Triathlon

I know what you're thinking..."errr, triathlon is three sports." Well you're in for a lesson my friend, on the grueling and intricate lifestyle of an elite triathlete. While I'm generally an advocate for simplicity in training and racing, sometimes there is more than meets the eye when it comes to professional athletes. This is my exposé on the secrets of triathlon success.

Swim/bike/run are the easy parts, just get your butt out the door and train (discipline #1: training). Transitions can be thrown in with training; it seems obvious to me to practice them (it has been well documented that even when I have a crappy race I always have the fastest transition splits), but if you watched Vancouver Int'l or IM Hawaii on TV this weekend you'll have realized that pretty much everyone sucks at transitions, even some world class pros.

I also often preach the importance of nutrition and awesome Canadian music if one wants to succeed, so those are numbers 2 and 3.

But all those are the obvious ones, and anyone can figure that stuff out. It's the other four secret disciplines that must be mastered if one is to achieve greatness and/or world supremacy in the sport of triathlon:

4. Video Games:
Recovery is essential to consistency in training and in turn performance. A critical aspect of recovery is becoming a loser and shutting out all social activities, and the first step is playing video games. Get some tea and omega 3 cookies, put your legs up, and waste those Nazi zombies. If you're really good you can ice or use your foam roller while playing.

5. Unemployment:
Also related to recovery, having a job is a waste of time that could be better spent napping, or better yet playing video games. Above this, going to work is just a drag in general. To many the thought of quitting their job to train full time is a daunting and life-changing decision. But really it's quite simple: quit your job-->train and recover effectively-->win Hy-Vee.

6. Sleep:
9 hours per night, plus 60-90min napping throughout the day. No exceptions. Beauty rest is critical to looking awesome while training and racing, and studies have shown looking good is the most accurate determinent of winning a triathlon. If you've ever seen Magali Tisseyre race you know this to be true.

7. Hot Yoga:
You may scoff at this one, but this discipline is two-fold in it's benefits to the pro triathlete. Not only does stretching, core strength and muscle stability directly relate to health and performance while training, but hot yoga makes you feel like you've done a workout when really all you did was stand there and stare at girls. Speaking of which, an elite athlete's entire social life consists of saying hi to the hippie communist server at Starbucks who calls you "comrade", and going to hot yoga. So don't miss it.

Master the 7 disciplines of triathlon I will see you on the podium.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Big Week

So after getting dusted at provincials - and enjoying every minute of it - I've got a fire lit under my bottom in training and I'm highly motivated and excited for my ITU debut at Elite Nationals in two weeks. I'll get dusted there too, but I'll give it hell. This is what my week in training looked like, my swim mileage is still low but I'm getting some good efforts in each workout:

Monday:
3k swim - main set 8x150 as 25 sprint/125 tempo on 2:30, alt. paddle pull/free
17k easy run
Core/prehab
Tuesday:
3+k swim - 10x50 on 45, main set 2x300 start speed/300 easy
2hr ride with 6x1min hard, then 5x1km hill climb in big chainring
20min brick with 5min tempo
Core/prehab
Wednesday:
Drill swim
Recovery ride
15k fartlek run
Core/prehab
Thursday:
3k swim - 200 band, main set 2x400, 2x300, 2x200, 2x100
2hr ride with RTC Guelph - hard paceline+crit work
Friday:
Open water swim w/ RTC
RTC track run w/ 12x400 dec 1-4 from 80 to 66-67
Core/prehab

Here's a cool GoPro video from our Thurs ride by Coach James who is leading the RTC this week


White shorts/white jersey: yours truly
Green jersey: Ang Quick (aka let out at provs)
Black/blue shorts: Ian Donald (holy crap this guy can run)
Black/grey shorts: Zander Hinton (booking his ticket to Budapest)
Black shorts/Milram jersey: Tyler Bredscheider (the guy who is going to lap me in the two-loop swim in Kelowna)
The rabbit: Tom Lokody ("I love triathlons, they make me happy")

Thanks for the training guys.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Wheels for Sale


Fulcrum Racing 5 training/racing wheels:
-1750g
~500km on them, in perfect condition
-retail $600+$150 for Hutchinson Fusion 2 Triathlon tires, selling for $300


Mavic Cosmic Carbone Pro race wheels (I've removed the ugly yellow stickers, now just a pure black carbon weave):
-1500g, 52mm carbon tubulars with carbon/titanium hubs
-used for 10 races over 2 seasons, recently trued and new front tire
-retail for $3600, asking $1200 with Conti tubulars, wheel bags and all tools

Email me if you're interested, rpower4(at)uwo.ca

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Provincials








Photos courtesy of Craig Taylor, supporter and coach extraordinaire.

Over the past six days I've travelled 23 hours and raced twice, but I felt great for my race today. Draft-legal provincial championships was supposed to be an A-race for me this year, but given my injury troubles from late-June to mid-July it simply became a race to gain some valuable experience in a drafting format against some of the best young athletes in Canada.

My swim training has really been limited over the past six weeks so my plan for the race was to swim my own pace and get out of the water feeling good to throw it down on the bike in hopes of catching someone, then have a decent run. I did my best not to get annihilated through the first 300 meters but I got knocked around quite a bit until I found some friendly feet to sit on. I exited the water about two minutes down of the lead group...a little disappointing but I was feeling fresh and ready to hit the bike hard.

I buried myself through the first 3k on the bike and managed to catch a couple juniors. I immediately started my barking orders but we quickly dropped one rider and were stuck trying to chase with some limited firepower. I thought second chase pack was in our sights, but with the main packs working together with 5-10 strong guys we didn't have much of a chance to make up time. I went through a few more stragglers who couldn't hang on to do any work, and unfortunately my bike fitness is not quite where I want it and I couldn't put time into the larger groups up the road.

By 10k there were two main packs well up the road from us, so I focused on riding smart and holding back a bit for the run...a nice aspect of draft legal! I led our little group of three or four into T2 and dropped them through transition. I focused on running relaxed and staying light on my feet, and to my surprise my body agreed with me today. I made up a few more places through the run and ended up with a 17:46 5k. In a perfect world I would have liked to see a slightly faster run but it's my best so far this year so I can't complain with that in my first drafting race.

Overall I was happy with how things went today. My tactics were good (or as good as they can be when riding mainly solo) and I executed well given my fitness. Two solid efforts in two weeks after 3 months of frustration...I can't complain. Back to the grinding stone for a couple weeks to hammer out some speed in the water then off to nationals.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bala Race Report

My season finally got rolling again this weekend with the Bala Falls tri, or the start of a new season as I like to think of it. After six weeks of physio, rehab and a reset on my attitude I was genuinely excited to race for the first time this year.

So I had one last stop at physio on Friday to tape up my back and off I went to "The Cranberry Capital of Ontario" (I didn't see any cranberries) for one of the classic small-town races in the province. Just like St. Croix I was inundated with hospitality; I stayed in a cottage that was bigger than my house, was treated to some good food and wine, and I have decided that jet skiing is an integral part of my pre-race routine.

I drove the race course the night before to check things out and I figured it was going to suit me pretty well (I was wrong). I was going a little retro this time...no wetsuit, road bike setup...because this was simply a test and a tune up for draft-legal provincials next weekend.

On race morning the water temperature was measured at 75 degrees (cut-off for wetsuits is generally 78 for age-groupers, 76 for elites) but I decided I would go non-wetsuit since I've never done a race without one. There were a couple very strong swimmers at the race and I was in 4th position in a nice little pace line through 400m, until the guy just ahead of me decided that 400m was enough and completely stopped swimming. That type of thing may happen in the middle of the pack at these races...but I was a little surprised that someone in a paceline holding ~1:25's would do that. Unfortunately I couldn't bridge the gap after being forced to swim over the guy so I took the rest of the swim pretty easy and focused on feeling good coming out of the water.

I was 6th onto the bike and made up a couple places in the first 5k. As a prep for next weekend's sprint I went very hard from the start of the bike up to 20k, but I paid for that for the rest of the race. The course was constant long steady hills which I thought would be in my favour on a road bike, but they weren't steep enough or technical enough to really be better off than the guys on tri bikes. I could tell I wasn't as fit as I'd like to be, but I limited my losses and was off the bike 5th. I saw the leaders coming off the bike and I could see they were not runners so I was feeling good with my position.

By the first k I was in 3rd and I could see 1st and 2nd up the road. The leader off the bike was 4 minutes up when I started running and I made up 3 minutes through 3km, but 2nd place had come off the bike just ahead of me and we were running the exact same pace. Unfortunately I really started to feel my lack of race fitness around 5k with the very difficult run course. At every turn around I could see that I was putting time into the leader, and I could tell 2nd place was a strong runner but I had him locked in at about 100 meters up the road. My plan was to bridge up with about 1k to go and make a move on the last hill, but my lack of hard efforts in training lately showed on the uphills (there were about a million of them) as my legs were cramping whenever I tried to dig. I had to settle for 3rd about 20 seconds back of the leaders...but we all were beaten by Martin Rydlo in the second wave.

So 4th. Not bad all things considered, and I enjoyed racing for the first time this year. I haven't lost too much fitness over the last month, just felt a little rusty out there. Hopefully I can get some feel back in the water this week, and with a good effort on a very challenging course yesterday I should be ready to rock in Ottawa this weekend. I probably went too hard on the first half of the bike and run, but considering my race strategy for provincials is "race to the brink of death", that's probably not a bad thing.

I won't be where I had hoped in the swim but the plan is to annihilate myself on the bike until I bridge up to a group, then run a PB 5k off the bike. I can't wait!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dear Triathlon Canada,

There must be some sort of mistake. The start list for the Kelowna ITU Pan Am Cup (ie. Canadian Elite/U23 Nationals Champs) was released this morning (here), and in between such athletes as Brent McMahon, Kyle Jones and Simon Whitfield, there is some poser named Ryan Power.


What the F*** am I getting myself into?!? I still haven't learned how to swim!

...maybe I can apply for an exemption to wear paddles and fins, on the basis of inexorable suckyness.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Green Light

Spondylolisthesis:
-anterior displacement of the vertebrae in relation to vertebral column, caused by stress injury or degeneration
-an awesome combination of a stress fracture and a slipped disc...I like to think of it as the Transformers of injuries
-the underlying cause of my reduced training and lack of racing over the past month, and what I'm referring to when I talk about my gimp back

So it's a funny sounding injury that I have, which unfortunately flares up from time to time when my training volume or intensity increases. It's something I've had to accept and deal with over the past two years, and will continue to do so if I want to keep racing.

Some minor muscle imbalances on the bike and poor swim form has caused it to flare up a couple times this year, but after a month of base training and no races I finally have the green light to hit the start line. Just in time for Elite/U23 Provincials and Kelowna ITU.

My patience has been tested the past few weeks but this week I finally got to test my legs instead...and it went well. Test #1 was an open water swim then brick into 2x20min intervals on the bike, and averaged 38.2 and 37.8 at tempo effort. Today was some brick intervals for test #2, and with a little help from motor pacing I did 2x 5k bike/1k run in 9:35 and 9:12. Fun stuff!

Unless something goes terribly wrong this week I'm going to race Multisport Canada's Bala Falls tri next weekend, and will enter my first elite race in Ottawa on the 31st. And despite the speed bumps lately things are still looking good for my A-races in Kelowna and Puerto Vallarta.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Bright Side of Rehab

Visit to my physio confirmed that things are progressing in terms of muscle imbalances. I still have a lot of work to do to get healthy in the pool, namely a ton of backstroke to become a more balanced, therefore fitter, swimmer. I'm realizing it's not as simple as just jumping into 20k swimming weeks in an attempt to race ITU...with absolutely no swim background. Feeling pretty good on the bike and I finally get to - gently - test things out on the run. I was getting desperate to run fast for the first time in a month and the legs felt good.

But for now the weekly training hours are pretty low. It's a good thing I have become an expert at the art of post-workout laziness...uhh I mean recovery (as outlined Pt 1 and 2). The best part about rehab is sitting my bottom in front of the TV for hours at a time. I get to watch Canadian Ryder Hesjedal work his way up to 3rd in the Tour, and I can spend my mornings with Canada's greatest TV personality, Jay Onrait:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Quote of the Month




Ok this story is a little dorky for typical blogging material, but FF to 1:35 into the video for my favourite triathlon quote of the 2010 season.

In other news...there really is no news. I'm still stuck spending more time watching Le Tour while doing prehab than actually training (at least it's very cool to have a Canadian 4th on GC!). It's getting a little frustrating with some of my big races for the season on the horizon and being limited in training for three weeks now. I'm feeling strong on the bike again, runs are coming along but swims are still very inconsistent. Some days its just a no-go when I get in the water. Which is not a good thing when I'm trying to race ITU.

I have another visit to my physio tomorrow to get a better idea of how things are progressing, and hopefully figure out how to get back into training and racing. But when it comes down to it I am more concerned with getting healthy and getting back to feeling good - physically and mentally - in training. Even if it means having to take a few steps back and reconsidering my races this season.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Limiting Losses

A theme I'm sharing with a few of the Tour favourites after today's prologue. It's the most wonderful time of the year!

I'm still in rehab mode and getting a little impatient given that it's the mid-season and I'm restricted to base mileage and haven't gotten the green light to race. But I'm making the best of my training and worrying about what I can control - not doing anything stupid and really put myself in a hole.

Today was my first little test of how things are feeling with the LPC Training Day. 4hour workout with a main set of 2x ~300m swim/11k bike/2.6k run on the Loaring Tri course, with my focus being to push the first ~2mins of each leg then shut things down. It felt great to run fast for the first time in a few weeks (maybe a little too fast), but overall I feel that I'm not yet ready to hit the start line despite getting very anxious to race again. Step one is getting the mileage back up in the pool.

My plan is still to race elite provincials on the 31st as one of my key events for the year, and I'm hoping to sneak in a small race before then. But for now I'm forcing myself to hold off for a little more rehab, and then get a few hard yard sessions in before racing again. I hold myself to very high standards in racing - not always a good thing - and I'm not satisfied with my fitness even if I was feeling 100%.

Seems like a bit of mid-season chaos, but I've had a good early season of training, and I'm taking all this as an opportunity address all my weaknesses. And I still have all my big races ahead of me.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Reminder

What this crazy sport is all about and why triathletes are so awesome.

From Triathlon Magazine Canada (full story) on Multisport Canada's Welland Half Ironman:

In the classy move of the day, Toronto's Nigel Gray sacrificed his race (was in the top 5 at the time) to assist Orangeville's Richard Pady who was taken down in a collision with a vehicle. Gray offered immediate attention and stayed with Pady until paramedics arrived. Pady had a brief stay in the hospital and was left with a broken arm, abrasions, a few stitches to his lip, and a possible injured knee.

Another highlight from the race...my good friend and training buddy Chris Pickering (who is coached by Rich Pady) had a great race for 10th overall and one of the top age groupers in a very competitive half-iron event. He's going for a Kona spot in Lake Placid in a few weeks, and he is going to be a force in long course racing.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Weekend

It was a big weekend of racing in Ontario (and Quebec) and ironically I missed two events that I had planned on competing in. My focus the past week has been #1 get healthy, #2 get back to having fun in training and racing...in that order. It's going to be tough going back to base and technical training in the middle of the season with my A-races coming up. But it will force me to stay postitive.

I still managed to have a busy weekend despite not racing, training, or having a job. The ongoing issue/defect with the BB30 system on my Kuota has finally been resolved with new bearings and a little ingenuity (ie. loctite). The Kuota Kult is the best bike I've ever ridden in terms of ride quality and overall awesomeness, but to be quite honest BB30 is a little fussier than a standard BB. But Kuota were great to deal with and ensured my bike was up and running flawlessly again.

Saturday was MultiSport Zone's megaday at Pinery Provincial Park with an open water swim, transition practice and a short bike/run. I like to keep the mood light when I come to MSZ workouts (ok I'm a total goofball, but focus #2 was having fun!) but I was still able to provide some instruction and demonstration for open water and transitions. Because the truth is...I'm actually not fast at all, I just do the little things right.

Today I attended one of OAT's drafting clinics to allow me to race draft-legal later on this season (assuming I learn how to swim). Coach Chris Helwig - a well-known and respected name in cycling around here - was my evaluator, with part of my evaluation being a group ride with his squad. To my surprise I managed to hold my own with some real cyclists, and I will likely start doing some of my bike training with his group as well as the London Centennial Wheelers. Every July (coincidence?) I get the bright idea in the back of my mind that I should give up triathlon and just become a full-time roadie...I'm sure this isn't going to help.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Update

We're almost half way through the season now, and having only finished one race so far things clearly haven't been going to plan. The good news is I'm on my way to getting back on track.

A visit to my physio Elizabeth Fox (who is likely the sole reason I'm still in triathlon) this week confirmed what I had presumed: a muscle imbalance between my glute med, hamstring and hip flexor that is both stemming from, and contributing to my lower back problems. Sounds scary, but it is very common with triathletes (Hunter Kemper and Kirsten Sweetland to name a couple) and just means I have to be extremely diligent with prehab, internal core strength and stretching...for the rest of my career in the sport.

So I have to take a step back before moving forward again by scaling back the intensity of training for a week or two and skipping a couple upcoming races. But I'm not disappointed since my core/prehab routine will not only keep my gimp back healthier, but will make me a stronger and more efficient athlete. And with the World Cup on for the next two weeks and Le Tour starting next weekend...I wouldn't mind being "injured" for a while!

In the mean time I'm getting back to just enjoying training and competition, something I've been lacking lately. My real season still doesn't start until elite/U23 provincials and elite nationals so I still have plenty of time to get healthy and fit. I'll still get my ass kicked but I'll do it with a smile on my face.

I'll also use my spare time to try to make this blog slightly more interesting. It has become decidedly mundane since discovering that my sarcastic sense of humor is not always well received. So I'll work on walking the line of making this thing worthy of reading, and not offending anyone.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Learning the hard way

Seems to be the theme of my racing so far this season. The only difference with the Guelph Lake today was the weather was beautiful...I guess I jynxed it with my last race report.

I had felt off all week leading up to the race. I had been fighting some nagging tightness all week, and I really was not in the mindset to race this weekend. I was seriously considering skipping the race and just putting a good weekend of training in, but by Friday I was feeling good enough that I decided I would give it a shot even if I wasn't feeling 100%.

I was still a bit sore this morning and was cramping a bit in my warmup, but with some encouragement from the Multisport Zone crew I decided I would stay positive today no matter what. The Guelph Lake swim is never all that conducive to fast swim times with a 75m beach run between laps, 200m run up to transition and the potential for strong currents. I went through the first 750m at 10:57...pretty good for me, only 10secs of my race PB. The second lap I lost my way a bit, something I've struggled with a lot this year for some reason.

I was a little over 4 minutes back of the real swimmers like Bechtel, Yorke and Dave Sharratt...as much as that sucks it was about what I expected. I'm working extremely hard in the pool but I'm not yet translating that into strong swims in races. I'll keep working hard, and with some better navigating and drafting I'll be faster.

I didn't get a bike split but I know it was nothing worthy of mention. I felt like I was going ok and pushed hard, but Coach James and I deduced post-race that I've got some muscle imbalance and my glutes aren't firing as they should. Thus my power suffers on the bike. Something I need to get checked out at physio this week, and also need to tweak my TT position. As the ride went on I could feel that my hamstrings and hip flexors that had been bugging me all week, were getting tight and pulling on my lower back. My back problems really started to flare up as the ride went on, and by 30k I had basically decided that the day would become a swim/bike workout and I wouldn't aggrivate things by struggling through the run. But that's when things got interesting.

When I got off my bike I lost one of my bike shoes and only realized about 50 meters later. After a bit of profanity I dropped my bike to run back and get it (to avoid DQ) and in the process managed to cut my foot open on my spokes. At this point I was frustrated enough that I started my run, not realizing that my foot was bleeding through my shoe.

I was planning to stop at any moment as I immediately felt my back cramping. Unfortunately James was strategically placed to motivate me to run a little more. At the first hill I really started to feel it, and just as I had decided I would pack it in for the day...who is there cheering me but the legendary Lisa Bentley. "Ok well I can't stop beside Lisa Bentley, she's only about ten thousand times tougher than I am."

I called it a day at 2k, deciding that I wouldn't sacrifice a week or more of training. I've realized that the issue with my vertebrae will force me to accept the odd DNF when things are acting up, and I'll take that over risking long-term injury. The walk of shame back to medical wasn't pleasant but I know I made the right call today.

So this week will be spent with some physio, a bit of rest and a lot of training. I'm still hoping to race Welland next weekend with the sole intention of having fun and enjoying the race, rather than worrying myself with how the race might go, how fast I should be going, or putting too much pressure on myself to succeed. It will be my last race before a bit of a mid-season break from competition to focus on a hard month of training leading up to my draft-legal stuff. So it's a good time to get back to basics and just enjoy the sport again, for the first time in a while.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Waterloo suspends football"

WATERLOO, Ont. - It started with a property crime investigation. Along the way, police say they found a cache of several thousand pills, vials and capsules

Story here.

Big news for varsity sports and anti-doping initiatives in Canada. Even if CIS football isn't as big as its American counterpart, and even if University of Waterloo is a silver medal for those rejected from UWO.

Personally I applaud UW in taking what some are calling a drastic step to demonstrate the consequences of cheating. This is a clear example of why drug testing should not be limited to the upper echelon of any sport, but for all athletes at any level.

I chose not to pursue American track&field programs because there is doping at the college level - more than anyone wants to admit. I have heard personal examples of coaches forcing their athletes to dope or have their scholarship terminated. So I'm glad to hear Canadian schools are a little more proactive.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Music!

Haven't had any awesome music on here for a while. So I think it's time for a double shot from one of Canada's best song writers. Not my choice to get fired up for a race (much better used for recovery purposes) but two of the most beautiful songs you'll ever hear. I've been meaning to post this one for a while...



Off Blue Rodeo's latest album, "The Things We Left Behind". And one of Jim Cuddy's solo works:



Of all the reasons Simon Whitfield is my athletic hero, number one is he gets to hang out with Jim Cuddy. It's quite possible that I'm more jealous of that than his gold and silver medals.

Ok maybe not.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Training Update


Hitting the first hill in the Woodstock tri.

Big thanks again to Multisport Canada for a great new venue. John Salt and MSC are supporting me in races throughout the season, and I really can't say enough good things about them. They have the most beautiful race venues in Ontario with the perfect combination of a small-town race feel, and real professionalism. And they're giving back to the athletes at every opportunity.

I'm right back into some good training with a busy schedule coming up. I'm working race crew at MSC's Binbrook race this weekend, then racing Guelph Lake and Welland the following weeks. I've had to postpone my draft-legal racing debut but still looking forward to some hard racing this month.

I've really gone back to basics with swim training this week. Whatever I've been doing the past month hasn't been working, so I've focused on good form above all else this week and I'm starting to see some decent times for the first time in a while. I've always been a terrible swimmer, so the fact that I'm seeing improvements and am getting close to being able to race ITU is beyond anything I ever expected of myself as a triathlete.

The past few days of training have looked something like this:

Tuesday
3500m swim with 6x (2x100 hard, 100 easy)
60min recovery run

Wed
3k ez swim
3hr base ride...which became "I'll ride 100k under 3hrs" (2:42)

Thurs
4k swim w/ 12x50 activation, and main set adapted from RTC Guelph-
(2x100, 4x150, 2x100, 3x200, 2x100, 2x300, 2x100)
Track workout tonight with mile reps

3.5k open water swim tomorrow and hard ride in the afternoon. Just putting in the hours, and looking forward to getting faster.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Woodstock Tri

I have to admit it's slightly frustrating that the norm for my Ontario races is rain, strong winds and well below seasonal temperatures. In my past three seasons of racing I have not seen the sun for any race I have done in Ontario. Woodstock today was no exception, with a race start temperature of 14 degrees, rain and 30+km/h winds. A little different from St. Croix where it was 38 plus humidity...

Despite the weather I was very excited to get my season underway and make my elite racing debut. I had no goals for the race other than to put in a good effort and shake the cobwebs (and not embarrass myself having "pro" written on my calf). To be honest though, the race ended up being pretty uneventful. That's by no means a reflection of Multisport Canada's awesome new venue; it was a beautiful course and very well run as always. But things spread out very quickly so I did the entire race alone and my position didn't change after 20k into the bike.

I've been working my ass off in the pool for the last six months, and unfortunately I wasn't able to express my hard work today in the swim. I had a controlled start and hung with the leaders for the opening 400m until I got a good kick in the face that knocked one side of my goggles off. I didn't let it bother me, but after losing touch with the leaders I simply did not swim well. I wasn't feeling good and I couldn't get out of the water fast enough. I exited in 6th-ish, far from what I expect of myself.

I started slow on the bike but I could see a small group of the leaders up the road so I got to work making up the time I lost in the water. It was a very windy ride with cross- and headwinds all the way up to the turnaround. I stayed relaxed until we made the turn, then buried myself all the way back to get in a decent position going onto the run. I came off the bike 3rd with one of the faster rides on a very slow day.

The run was also a struggle, I was running ok but just felt rusty. Such is to be expected for my first hard effort of the year. I had no clue how to pace myself for an 8k off the bike, but a challenging run course and pushing the pace on the bike dictated things for me. I've been running very well off the bike in training but I couldn't find my stride today. I think that will come as I get further into my season.

Nothing really changed on the run, I finished 3rd overall and although I know I can be much faster I'll take that at this point in the season. I put in a good effort despite feeling like I was having a bad race, and I didn't completely embarrass myself in my first race in the elite division having only been beaten by a couple very strong athletes.

So at least I know I'm going in the right direction. Back to work.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

From Electronic Shifting to Electric Power

Well I'm far from breaking the news on this one, but it's all the talk in the cycling world and I thought I'd put in my two cents.

For those who haven't heard, Italian media broke news last week with an alleged pro cyclist's bike that housed an electric motor system that drives the crank spindle from inside the seat tube, controlled by a hidden button on a Dura-Ace shifter. Here's the video:




Fabian Cancellara is the accused rider in these allegations, and the fact that such an accomplished and highly respected rider is at the center of the rumours is raising eyebrows. Cancellara's response was merely that the accusations are "stupid", however his team Saxo Bank provided a more in-depth reaction (found here).

So I'll hop on the bandwagon of speculation and offer my thoughts. I'm not at all surprised that a system like this exists, in fact I'm surprised it has taken this long for something like this to come along and "shock" the cycling world. And as unfortunate and disgraceful as it is, given what so many pro cyclists are willing to put in (or take out of) their body for the chance at a tainted victory, I also wouldn't be surprised if the system has been used in a pro tour race. Pro cycling is simply in no position to dismiss the accusations as "stupid" given the recent history of the sport.

For Cancellara specifically I'm not so sure though. Watching that video, some of the accelerations seem very unnatural. Particularly on the final climb in the Tour of Flanders. But on the flip side, if there is one rider in the pro peloton who can make 1200W look effortless, its Cancellara.

He is also using a SRAM Red drivetrain as opposed to Shimano on the bike in the video. Not that the system couldn't be adapted to Sram, but his "suspicious" hand motions are really just the downshifting mechanism on a Red shifter. I have those on my bike too...so don't go accusing me of cheating when I shift!

The bottom line is UCI needs to take this as seriously as any doping scandal. Clearly the sport has come to an age where the bikes need to be tested as rigorously as the riders to rid the peloton of cheaters. But in Fabian's case specifically, I haven't heard anyone ask for this simple solution to clear (or incarcerate) his name:

For those who are trying to discern the grainy video for evidence, it's pretty clear he has an SRM power unit on his bike. Just get his power numbers from the team. Look at the data from the suspicious points of Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders and compare the numbers (watts/kg) to, let's say Stage 3 of the 2007 Tour de France, where he had a very similar acceleration on a bike that wouldn't have housed such a motor in the seat tube (Cervelo SLC-SL).

An analysis of the power numbers SHOULD show a discrepancy if a motor was providing 50-100W extra. So let's see the numbers, and hopefully see UCI take this very seriously. Everything else aside...the complete lack of morality and respect for fellow athletes by anyone who would even think of using a system like this is absolutely disgraceful.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Madrid ITU

Miguel Indurain turns to triathlon in Madrid

“Triathlon is a formidable and spectacular sport and I am delighted to be one of the guests at the Casa de Campo in Madrid for this impressive day of world championship action”

Full story from ITU here. Very cool, and good to hear that roadies are starting to respect us triathletes!

This weekend also marks the start of Ontario's triathlon season with Multisport Canada's newest triathlon venue in Woodstock. Word on the street is it will be a fast and scenic course, and I'm looking forward to my first race as an elite triathlete. Training has been heavy but I'm surviving and getting stronger.

John Salt and the MSC crew always put on fantastic races and Woodstock will be no exception. Check out MultiSport Zone's tent at the race site, and come see me at the finish line and on the podium. Say hi, ask questions, and check out all my cool new toys from Kuota, K-Swiss and Rudy Project.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Happy Birthday!


That's right, my blog turns one today! And what a year it has been as I've shared my experiences of training and learning the ropes of elite-level triathlon.

We've shared the good times...


and the tough times...

And even times when my sarcastic sense of humour and arsehole opinions have (unintentionally) spurred public outrage and mass rioting. But through it all we've persevered and this blog has encapsulated my growth as an athlete and person. From no name age-grouper, to no name professional triathlete.

My goals last year were to win age group nationals and obtain my elite card (done and done), and this year's goals are even simpler: to make my ITU debut, and to come out alive.

It's been a fun year and this season promises to be even better than last. And I'll try not to break both my wrists (in two seperate bike crashes) this year. Thanks for reading, I'll work on coming up with happier and more worthwhile posts in the near future.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Poignant Reminder

60min recovery spin today, just out trying to find some half decent climbs around London. 5 minutes from home I was intentionally run off the road by an 18 wheeler, who promptly skidded his trailer through the gravel...just in case I was still upright.

Any cyclist in Ontario knows this is just part of the routine on training rides, and between reading the news and considering my own experience it seems to be getting worse. But this time it especially bugged me; not just because no less that five cyclists have been victims of vehicular homicide in the past two weeks in Canada.

Three years ago to the day I was having dinner with one of my best friends, who upon arriving home found that his mother had been struck and killed by a motorist on her bicycle. His tragedy was a shock to everyone, but especially hit home for me as I'm on my bike 12 hours a week, just trying to do something productive with my life, and have experienced countless examples of people who would rather risk murdering someone than add an extra six feet to their driving distance.

There is one single reason why cyclists are killed on the road. Drivers who are so stupid that their ignorance ends another person's life. Actually there is another reason: the provincial government is too busy with the largest tax increase in the history of Canada (despite being elected on the platform of no tax increases) to hear a bill that proposes a measly three-foot berth given to cyclists on the road.

It is probably those same unfathomably ignorant idiots who voted Liberal in the first place.

So today's angry ranting message is two-fold:
1. Dear drivers everywhere: contrary to popular belief, you do not own the road. Your ignorance kills, and by all accounts your idiocy is on the rise.
2. EVERYONE start giving a s**t about politics

Friday, May 21, 2010

Switching Gears

So I had my fun pretending to be a long course athlete for the past 4 months and traveling to an unforgettable race, now it's time to get serious. The last two weeks have been spent transitioning from base/strength training to prepping for the equally insane world of short course and my debut in elite racing.

As with most high-intensity training blocks, I felt superhuman for the first 10 days...until the residual fatigue sets in and all confidence is shattered. But after a few days of heavy legs and sluggish training I'm moving along well again. I was lucky enough to get a few workouts in with RTC Guelph (new name, same great squad) before they flew off to Ixtapa Mexico for Junior Patco/Cont. Cup. Good luck to everyone racing tomorrow!

In preparation for draft-legal racing I had a 400m swim time trial this week and learned two things: #1 I am getting faster, #2 I still suck. But I'm riding well and running is getting there too. Today's training was 2hr ride with 15k hard, then straight into 3km at 10k goal run pace, 10k easy. I negative split each km for a pretty effortless 9:48 3k...faster than my 10k pace but I'll take it!

Training alone for draft-legal racing can be quite tedious, but has forced me to develop a higher level of focus and accountability. And every new training block I start with Coach James forces me to rethink my idea of smart training and proper recovery. If triathlon incorporated recovery into competition I would be nationally carded. I've got my routine down to a science, it looks something like this:

1. Don't have a job
2. After every PM workout - stretch+core stability, ice bath, compression socks + Crocs recovery sandals, roll out the calves (some people spend money on TriggerPoint, "The Stick" and the like, I'm sure they work but due to step #1 I have no money, thus use a Nalgene bottle)
3. Eat a crapload of yummy food

There you have it, my recovery secrets. And so far its working well. Tomorrow is a well deserved day off after a solid week and my next race is Woodstock in two weeks.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Organic Money Grab

Going "green" seems to be the cool thing to do these days, regardless of the fact that the largest populations in the world have absolutely no practical legislative control on environmental issues, humans continue to contribute exponentially to Earth's natural carbon cycle, and no matter what your happy thoughts on the afterlife are the Sun is going to engulf our planet and wipe away any trace of us in about 1.5 billion years anyway.

So what's the moral of the story? Don't buy organic. It's been all the rage, particularly among the health-conscious population - including high performance athletes - for the past decade and created a market worth over $50 billion based on the promotion of a healthier and more natural product(1).

Scouring the plethora of information on diet and healthy eating available online from professional and high-performance athletes, including some of the most recognizable names in our sport, the trend towards buying strictly organic produce appears to be on the rise. While no one will directly attribute eating organic to better performance, the idea is that the "cleaner, healthier" option contributes to overall health, thus beginning the process of "healthy-->consistency-->performance."(2)

Nutritionists will often convince athletes that organic is the better choice for an elite-level competitor, despite the fact that organic foods are up to 40% more expensive than conventional produce, and many elite triathletes live on extremely tight budgets (3). The argument goes that "diet is no place to skimp."

The fact is organic produce has absolutely no health benefits in comparison to conventional food. The conclusive 2008 study by the London School of Hygeine found no quantitative benefit in spending more money for allegedly cleaner food, through a review of over 160 scientific papers on the matter (4). There has been no scientific study to conclusively demonstrate that organic produce has beneficial effects on the consumer's health.

That is not to say there is no benefit whatsoever to choosing organic produce. Stanford University found in 2006 that organic farms produce less waste and greenhouse emissions in comparison to conventional "factory farm" operations (5). Others will argue on a subjective basis that organic food tastes better. Unfortunately these marginal arguments are outweighed by the fact that organic produce yeilds approximately 20% less food per acre than traditional farming, and in a world that is quickly moving towards population crisis and climate change threatens the future of agriculture in lower latitudes...that's not a good thing.

In conclusion, my message to fellow triathletes: Leave organic to the hippies and those food connoisseurs who are wealthy enough afford organic and will gain a false sense of saving the Earth by doing so. No matter what you do, 99.1% of the Canadian food market (6) will continue to use "harmful" pesticides and destroy the environment to allow you to eat your 6000 calories per day without going bankrupt.

My advice? Certainly be conscious of what you eat, but don't waste your time and money on organic because popular opinion tells you it's the healthy choice. Choose wholesome (ie. whole grain) foods in their natural state (as opposed to processed) when possible, and tailor your caloric needs to your daily workout and recovery needs. Every athlete's dietary needs are different, but no one needs to waste their money on organic produce.

And if you want to feel good about yourself, buy locally from the guy in a straw hat on the highway. Chances are it will be cheaper and "cleaner" than the supermarket, and you can do your part to support the local economy.




Sources:

1. Daly, Jessica. Study: Organic food not more nutritional. http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/science/08/19/organic.cooking.pv/index.html Aug 21, 2008.
2. stolen from the decidedly expert coaching philosophy of Craig Taylor
3. Winter, CK and SF Davis, Organic Foods, Journal of Food Science 71(9) pp117–124. 2006.
4. Hirschler, Ben. Organic food is no healthier, study finds. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE56S3ZJ20090729 July 29, 2009
5. Fletcher, Anthony. Study supports benefits of organic food. http://www.foodnavigator.com/Science-Nutrition/Study-supports-benefits-of-organic-food Mar 6, 2007
6. Macey, Anne. "Retail Sales of Certified Organic Food Products in Canada in 2006". Organic Agriculture Center of Canada. 2007

Monday, May 10, 2010

"I had a job before this..."



Compression socks, ice packs, nap time, smoothies...what's missing? Awesome Canadian music for recovery purposes of course! Without a doubt the most awesome music I've posted.