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 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


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 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


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 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


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:

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

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

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 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.