Monday, June 20, 2011


So as I'm sure you're all aware of by now, about two months ago I had the bright idea to plan another half to get my season rolling. Preparation is just about done and the Welland Half is now 6 days away. Whatever happens in the race - because as I've learned, you never know what's gonna go down in long course - I'm really happy with how my training has gone in my prep for it.

Since I couldn't race last weekend I had to find one more tune up before the big one. So I headed down to the Leamington Triathlon with *cough* (pretty yoga buddy) and her coach for Age Group Sprint Provincials. Southwestern Ontario has a ton of small independent races that seem to have a cult-like following, and with it being a AG Worlds Qualifier it was going to attract some fast athletes.

So we crashed at LPC secondary headquarters just outside Windsor and had a short 30min commute to the race site the next morning. It's an interesting course with the swim in a marina with a surprising amount of chop and current and even more seaweed...then a flat but windy ride and a fun two lap 5k run course.

I tried starting on the outside since it was a slightly more direct line to the buoy...and found myself wondering why virtually nobody else was thinking the same way at a championship race. But the swim turned out to be surprisingly challenging with a lot more chop than this photo does justice, and I was fighting the current pushing me further to the outside.

I was in pretty bad position coming around the first turn and was forced to play catch up through the last 500m. I can really feel my increased swim fitness in open water and made up a lot of ground through the last 400 getting stronger as I went. Which made me even more frustrated with my tactical mistake that cost me missing the leaders' feet.

I got out of the water in a little chase pack (with the leader over a minute up on everyone) of some UWO tri club buddies. It made for a bit of chirping in T1. One guy in particular, Alex Vanderlinden has made some incredible strides this year and I've watched him quickly become one of the guys to beat in the local racing scene, and an incredibly fast runner.

So I got on the bike with Alex just ahead of me and some fast riders behind. I really focused on getting my heart rate in check and establishing a strong rhythm quickly, something I really struggled with in my last race and will be critical in my half this weekend. The wind was blowing on the way out and my newest toy (Garmin Edge 500) had my average speed at 34.0 at the turnaround. But the way back was fun with a good tailwind, and thanks to Multisport Zone I had the chance to roll Zipp 808/1080s which helped too :)

I got off the bike with my Rev3 buddy Thierry who is riding like a man possessed these days, with Alex (who was in 2nd place) about 5 seconds up on me out of T2 and the leader Josh Seifarth about 2 minutes up the road. I ended up with the 3rd best bike split behind Josh and Thierry and I headed out of T2 in 3rd. I knew it would be a monster task to make up any places with Josh well up the road and Alex in 16-mid 5k shape off the bike. But I was interested to see what my 5k speed is like with all my training geared towards a consistent half marathon pace.

The two lap run course was great. Lots of support from spectators and athletes, I got to see my position with 3 turn arounds, and I even got to cheer on my road trip pal as she was heading out on her first lap while I was suffering through the final mile.

I'm definitely lacking the sustained top-end speed I want for short course racing...I'd like to be 300-320W avg on the bike for such a short race and running 3:2x's on the run. But despite my completely different focus in training I felt fit and had a pretty consistent race (decent position out of the water, 3rd bike split, 2nd run split) for 3rd place behind Josh who was just too far in front, and Alex who had another monster race and top run time on a course that was 400m long.

There was a great LPC contingent at the race, and everyone raced well and fun times were had. My road trip pal had another awesome result for 3rd overall woman again, 1st in her AG and won a spot to Worlds. 3rd place buddies!

I felt like I should have gotten back on the bike for a few hours after such a short race, but as of my race finish I'm officially on my taper. Leamington was the perfect final tune up and gave me a bit more confidence in my fitness. I'm much better prepared for this half than my feeble attempt at STX last year and I'm looking forward to showing some mental toughness out there. After Welland I'm looking forward to getting fast again :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

More Training

Greetings peeps.

I usually try to write something more substantial than just training updates but training has me brain dead of that's all I got.

The big event on the horizon right now is the Welland Half Iron June 26. And once again I have to thank John from Multisport Canada for the big props in his June newsletter with Welland coming fast.

Training has been going really well for my latest attempt at long course racing. I've been as consistently strong over the past 6-8 weeks as I ever have been and my fear of the distance, fear of my results, fear of failure etc. is slowly being replaced by quiet confidence in my fitness and excitement to see how all my hard work translates on the road.

After my weekend in Connecticut for Rev3 (and 5 hours of training the next day) I put in another solid week before planning to hit my final tune-up race in Woodstock. Unfortunately I pushed my luck a bit in training and woke up on race morning on the verge of sickness. Rather than risk digging a hole two weeks out from a goal event I pulled the plug and spent the morning cheering on that pretty girl from yoga to a breakthrough result.

Another week of big miles is almost done including a 5 hour swim/bike/run simulation and the longest bike and run of my life, along with some dreaded 400 reps in the pool. I'm now in the perpetual zombie state that comes with 20 hour training weeks and burning more calories than I can possibly consume in a day. But just a few more days and I'll get some recovery before Welland.

This weekend I'm heading to Age Group sprint provincials for a short tune-up on a flat and fast course. It sounds like there will be some fast dudes, some friends trying to qualify for AG Worlds in Auckland next year, and plenty of fan support so it should be a fun weekend.

After Welland I'll have a mini break before getting re-acquainted with Black Beauty and gearing up for Elite Provincials, one of my favourite events from last year. Based on how the race goes I'll have a better idea of where I want to take the second half of my season - another half, an Olympic non-drafting event or possibly a Continental Cup. Or all of the above?

One last thought on is Thierry's far more in depth and thoughtful race report on his half. Great read, lots of photos and more than enough detail on our little adventure.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Rev3 Crazy

After 268 days I finally have another triathlon race report! The last one was the Montreal Esprit...I had a breakthrough race at the Olympic distance with a sub-hour ride and 2:03 time. I decided to end last season with that - a little earlier than expected - because I knew that was my best race of the year and that's how I wanted to end the season.

I was looking forward to starting this season where I left off last year with a healthy winter of training, numerous PB's in the pool and CP tests on the bike, then a two week training camp with lots of quality miles. But then my first race (a USAT Elite series event) was postponed six weeks before the race date...and while the race staff were all too happy to promote the presence of a Canadian pro at the event, they conveniently ignored me when I explained the new race date wouldn't work for me and I was out a few hundred bucks in travel expenses.

Then I was going to head down to Trinidad&Tobago at the end of May for a small event with a ridiculous amount of prize money. But two weeks before the race they quietly announced that the prize purse had been cut to less than half of what it was. All of this left a pretty bitter taste in my mouth with the amount of work I had put in to get my season going, then have two of my key events for the year scratched at the last minute.

When the opportunity came up to head to Connecticut for Rev3 Quassy I jumped at the chance and finally committed to my first tri of the the Olympic race, while the feature event with the half ironman the next day. So no prize money and not quite the stellar pro field of the half, but a very competitive race on a hard course, and a world class event (yes, Rev3 puts WTC to shame).

I hit the road with LPC teammate Thierry, a strong age group athlete racing the half the day after my race. I stole some of his photos (hope you don't mind!) to document our journey. This was my side of the hotel room...

I had no idea what to expect from this race. I knew the courses were extremely hilly, and while bike/run training has been going well I had been a little inconsistent in the pool and I really didn't want to start the season off with another disappointing swim split. But my race was overshadowed by the awesomeness of the professional transition with my own spot beside many of the biggest names in the sport.

There were only a few pros in the Olympic race but it was still pretty cool to get the special attention for a day. Unfortunately that also meant there was no pro wave, and unlike in my Multisport Canada races they didn't group the pros in the first wave. So I went off with my age group in the second wave. We went off 3 minutes behind the first age group wave, but as you can see some of us bridged the gap within 100m. Not to complain...I know fast age groupers have to deal with this at every race. I'm just commiserating that it's a pain in the ass to swim through hundreds of people doing whip kick and double-arm backstroke, or quite literally trying to grab on to a faster swimmer as they go by.

I was weaving through swimmers the entire 1500, trying to maintain something that resembled a swim stroke. But when I made the last turn I saw that there were only a few swimmers in my wave who were ahead of me (or at least a lot less than I'm used to), and even less of those who had started 3 minutes ahead, I had a feeling that I was going pretty well. When I hit the beach I was feeling more fresh than I ever have exiting a swim and posted an open water PB at 22:04.

And that's where the fast splits ended for me. I was ready to throw it down on the bike knowing I'm riding well right now. But it turned out to be one of those days where nothing was going to work. Prior to the race my Powertap computer crapped out on me, so Thierry being the engineer frantically got his Garmin 500 on my bike and had me ready to go. But despite our best efforts I couldn't get any power readings during the race...not a huge deal but I had been planning to stick to power targets on the crazy hilly course. Not to mention I dropped my chain twice.

I wasn't about to blame a bad ride on my legs simply did not want to work, and that course kicked my ass. There were no flats on the course at all - you were either going 12km/h up a hill, or 70-80km/h down. No in between. My bike training has been focused on pure time trialling (for a flat 90k) and I really struggled to get into a rhythm on this course. I was glad to get off my bike after quite possibly the longest 41km I've ever done.

The first two miles of the run were entirely downhill, and while I passed everyone who had gone by me on the bike I knew the worst was yet to come.

Theirry got some awesome shots of me doing my best Paula Findlay "show no emotion while running" impression. And don't start criticizing this heel strike...I was running a downhill 5-min mile.

The first major climb back up was at 5k and was about a mile long between 5-10% grade. My 5k split was under 16 minutes but that meant nothing considering how much climbing I had back to the finish. After that climb I was still on 6 minute-mile pace which I felt was a decent goal for the first race of the year. After that there were a few downhills so steep that I had to slow down to almost a walk just so my legs wouldn't buckle. Then the final climb was another mile again up to about 10% grade and by there it was clear that running sub-40 on this course was a feat. Here's another awesome shot Thierry got of me where my stride were about a foot long trying to survive the last uphill...apparently he was yelling at me but I was pretty out of it at this point.

I stopped the clock with a ridiculous 2:19 time and 40 minute 10k. If someone had told me that I would start my 2011 season off with a 2:19 I probably would have retired. But I'll take that on this course. Having lost some time on the bike to the leaders I didn't place as well as I'm used to but I'm happy with my swim and run, and I'm confident I'll get the bike figured out for my next race.

The Olympic distance is finally starting to feel normal, and while I pushed it hard I still managed to feel pretty good throughout. I can tell my fitness is there and I'm happy to start my year off with one of my most consistent races.

The next day I was lucky enough to catch all the action of one of the most competitive long course fields you'll see this year. It would have been fun to be a part of such a big event but I'll take things one step at a time. This was by the best run event I've done and I'm looking forward to building the back half of my season around one of Rev3's feature events.

I'll try to post some photos from the pro race soon. But I also have to mention that Thierry had one of the best races of his life, with an awesome 4:44 on the crazy course and a top-10 in the super competitive 35-39 age group. Great racing all around, back to training.