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:

3k swim - main set 8x150 as 25 sprint/125 tempo on 2:30, alt. paddle pull/free
17k easy run
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
Drill swim
Recovery ride
15k fartlek run
3k swim - 200 band, main set 2x400, 2x300, 2x200, 2x100
2hr ride with RTC Guelph - hard paceline+crit work
Open water swim w/ RTC
RTC track run w/ 12x400 dec 1-4 from 80 to 66-67

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:
~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)