Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Family and Friends,

Meredith and I are now sitting back in beautiful west coast of Maui enjoying some great R&R, sunsets, fine wine, beer, and great cheer! Ironman Hawaii has come and gone and WE BOTH survived. Craig Alexander, the men's champion and NEW COURSE RECORD holder said in his acceptance speech:

"a great friend of mine Simon Whitfield said 'Great things happen to people who make great things happen. Well, I would like to say: 'Great things happen to people who surround themselves with great people"...

I have been so fortunate to meet and become friends with GREAT PEOPLE. Meredith is GREAT PEOPLE, and I thank her for her patience in another Ironman pursuit. Her greatness comes from her being such a great friend. She is amazing. She conquers. She supports. She empathizes. She listens. She toughens up (NOTE: do not FK with Ms. Mere. She had a root canal and crown 3 days before we left, then an emergency root canal the day before we left! I say, total CHAMP!)

She affords me to pursue more of myself than ever thought possible before we met by being her. Every stroke, pedal, stride is brought to you by Ms. Mere-:)

A few key people along the way support and help as well. You know who you are. You have big hearts. Big Sis and daddy who are always a rock of family; Clarke and HCK who toughen me the FK up; YT and her words of wisdom; Stud T (NOT what you think!) for her positive vibrations; C3; Shepley; Le bike team; Endurosport; New Balance Toronto; Cervelo bikes; the list continues. All are GREAT PEOPLE. Nothing is possible without that support period.

So the race report itself.

Swim: 1:06 - HOLY S***!!
I didn't swim a lot in training but I knew I would get by. This said, there were points in this swim that were flat out scary. This swim at one point required some serious rugby scrum tactics to get through!

I got into the water 20 minutes ahead of the start. I did a quick warm up and found some space about 3rd row dead center of the group. To the right are usually the fast crew; to the left slightly slower and given I had space I felt confident this was where I wanted to be. The gun sounded, I started fast and had clear water and thought "GREAT!". Then we came to the first buoy where it was complete fight for your life stuff! The swim actually stopped as we tried to make it through on the left of the buoy. No going right, that is illegal and the surfers are very, very strict about not letting this happen. OK, one will be easier right? NOPE....repeat all the way until about 500M to go on the way back to the pier. It was insane. But, we survive, take a deep breath and remember to smile and stay positive! 

I started swim just behind and left of the blue surfboard.

Bike: 5:12 - piston legs turn, turn, turn.
I made a very conscious decision to cover up my shoulders and arms on the bike after my race here in 2003 where I literally cooked like bacon! The ZOOT arm coolers and team kit Hincapie cycling jersey really, really helped keep me cool as I soaked them every other aid station with cold water. My bike leg goal was to stay within myself, this is not a bike race, and enjoy the climb to Hawi into the wind. On the way back into headwinds stay low and remember how lucky I am to do this, to be here at the Kona Hawaii Ironman, and never complain.

These goals were made easy as my mantra began to sink in..."Just smile" and "to not do my best is to sacrifice the gift". I wrote on my bars three quotes:

  1. To not do your best is to sacrifice the gift - Prefontaine
  2. If you are going to go thru Hell, keep going - Churchill
  3. I'm so bad, I make medicine sick - Ali

I felt great the whole way. Twice negative talk entered "OMG, a marathon? seriously? Control-ALT-Delete self talk and back to smiling!If I got negative at all I read my bars, reminded myself how lucky I am and I need to honor that "luck" by doing my best.

As we reached town I really did feel amazing and was looking forward to running! That never happens but my Power Data told be I did a very smart, controlled bike ride and that I should be able to run well.
note: hands, arms, shoulders, neck all covered from sun!

Run: 4:32 - So that happened!
I knew it 50 metres into my transition off bike to the transition tent. Instantly my ab muscles cramped. Not a stitch, actual ab muscle cramping! I stayed in the tent for over 8 minutes, stretching etc. to try and loosen it up then hit the road. I then stopped immediately and waited for my GPS watch to link into the satellites because I was still cramping. I figured, 2 minutes here can save my race. So I waited, and waited, and waited...the watch got going then so did I but my cramps were brutal. I suddenly was problem solving and thinking fast, fast, fast what to do? I realized missing my E-Load on the bike was now killing me (I stopped for my bike special needs bag in Hawi, I then got off my bike to look for it myself, I then thanked the volounteers and rode off without said bag! They didn't have it, that's racing so move on!) Now I was paying.

I went about 2 to 3 miles along Alii drive and finally saw Meredith!! I walked up to her and gave her a big kiss and hug. Melissa Spooner was cheering athletes with Meredith. I looked over and said, "Wait, is your name Melissa?" .... "Why yes now get running!" Meredith and Melissa then looked at each and realized "yes, we HAVE met!"....after much fun and banter I was off and running/walking. 7 miles into the run I found a great groove and knocked a few 7:45 miles but the cramps were coming and going and I reverted back to my mantra


My goals were to have fun, and learn about myself. I learned that the this race was my most enjoyable race because I smiled the whole way! I had FUN OUT THERE! I cheered on friends! I cheered on competitors as they passed me. I was NEVER negative on the run. I was having too much fun! Sure it wasn't fast, it wasn't crushing it, it wasn't all was so, so much more.

It was learning that competing against a clock is just that. IT'S A CLOCK PEOPLE! Who cares?? Competing against yourself and how focused you can get when actually going slower vs. faster is quite surreal. I learned that sport is fun, enjoy it! It's a gift. You might not be here ever again; enjoy it!

cramps passing, time to run!
cramps are back, SLOW!
cramps are gone again! Time to run!

Finish! 11:03:39 

This is the superbowl of triathlon, a sport I really haven't competed in for 3 years. I suffered the last mile of this run as the cramps began to really take their toll. I could only walk Alii drive into the finish shoot because the pain was so intense. It was horrible; AND I LOVED IT!

Nothing beats finishing the Ironman.

last 200M. thank god!
and that's that!
I did my best
I loved every minute of it

"If I could, you know I would, if I could I would....let it go..." Bono from song, Bad.


But then, to do that is to make it easy which it isn't. You get out what you put in. Mental and physical. The biggest lesson on the streets of the big island is that being mentally trained is critical to meeting goals. 

Stay focused.
Have fun.

See you out on the roads friends!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Kona Diary day 6: ...Not even a mouse...

Friends and Family,

This is it, twas the night before Ironman and I can say, this town went ghost! Not even a mouse!!

Anyway, my main post for game day inflection was yesterday's. Today, it is short and sweet to say a few words of thanks.

First, thanks to the support staff:
  1. for their amazing speed machines.
  2. for the amazing speed shoes, training clothing, and great service.
  3. for their support of my sport pursuits and our bike team 
Second, THANKS TO all of you! There is no web link to that. It's an old school THANK YOU shout out. You keep me even and I hope to do you proud
Thank you to the people of Kona for gracing our pursuits on this land. We owe you so much and I will do everything I can to give you, your land, Madame Pele and company complete respect tomorrow.

So what did I notice today?

Today at bike check in I noticed something very cool. While Specialized had their super team in town all week and launched a new super bike with much fan fare and spend of $$$, Cervelo had their staff including CEO at the bike check in shaking hands and handing out shirts to all the riders checking in a Cervelo. I love that style of marketing, direct to the people. Well done CERVELO!

My "Then-Gen P3" is below but honestly the "now gen" bike all others still copy.

Cervelo P3 with Zipp 303 front/808 Powertap back
Pro Missile bars
Ultegra kit with FSA 172.5MM crankset

Last, one slice of motivation I learned on twitter today. 10-14-1066 was the Battle of Hastings when the French army of Duke William II of Normandy beat King Harold II of England, killing the English king in battle and changing history. William's army did what the Roman's couldn't and Norman rule began.

My bib number is 1066. I'm ready for battle.

"Never ever give up! We will never surrender!" - Churchill

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kona Diary day 5: The Champ(s)!

friends and family,

It is getting close. I know because I am getting quiet. Unlike other big races though, what I am finding is a sense of calm. Inspecting what I expect of myself.

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift" Prefontaine

It is a star studded field here, the Superbowl of the sport. I mentioned in earlier posts about sipping coffee beside Olympic and world champions. Today I found calm in asking, 'what does it take to be Olympic Champion? To be world champion?" I then found these two guys and I must say, both were incredibly kind and nice to take the time and give a shout out.

Frodeno, yes that guy who outsprinted Simon in Beijing for Gold. I did tell him no one in Canada was cheering for him but we are happy for him all the same!

Chris McCormack (MACCA) 2 time Kona champ and an ITU World Champ in 1997. Also a huge boxing fan like me.

I suspect these boys, to be champs, go to places I will need to visit Saturday. I say thank you for the inspiration.

"If you are going to go through hell, keep going" - Winston Churchill

It has been three years since my last Ironman. I was way more prepared, I was younger, but I was flat. I didn't want to be there. I was there out of habit, I wasn't there for the love of sport, for the places one goes to learn more of themselves, for the process of winning against only yourself. Today I found myself smiling out how inverse this experience is. I am so focused, happy, mentally prepared to go into myself and ask very, very dark questions but I am no where near fit like my mid 30's racing. 

"The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have" - Vince Lombardi

I have a great life. I have a great wife. I have great friends. I have a great job. I have health. I have healthy family around. I have my mom's spirit. 

"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life" - Muhammad Ali

I hope I live up to what I have and do those that I trust and respect around me proud Saturday. I will take risks. I will be courageous in the battle. I will go to hell and back.  I have Welsh blood. I have Canadian blood. Those two pieces together create a proud fighter. I hope to be crowned CHAMP in my own battle with myself Saturday.

In Canada we say Game on.

In Wales we say Kick off.

In Ironman we say FINISH: "you can quit, but no one cares and you will always know" Collins, Ironman Founder

Kona Diary Day 4: Blazeman and Super bikes!

friends and family,

The show that is Ironman Hawaii goes on, each day the intensity of this place grows! Some of it is truly hilarious, like guys running in speedo, compression socks, no shirt. Sure, they have rock bodies but please, get a grip!

I heard a great quote yesterday: Training hero; Race day zero. That happens a lot here. Guys hammering their runs and bikes along Alii Dr only to be absolutely bullocks on race day.  Bad for them; good for me-:)

So, what did day 4 bring Meredith and I?  First and foremost an incredible 20 minutes with Bob Blais, the father of the passed Jon Blais, ALS Warrior poet. If you don't know what I am talking about, please click through here: and also watch this 6 minute video on You Tube to understand what Jon did to put the discussion about ALS into the sports space:

I get inspired by people doing extraordinary things. Many have probably read my experience with as a great example of my being inspired by everyday people doing extraordinary things.

Jon Blais did an extraordinary thing; he did an Ironman with Lou Gehrig's disease. 12 months later Jon returned to Kona in a wheelchair; 6 months later from that, 18 months after finishing Ironman Hawaii Jon was dead. But his legacy is far from dead. He and Team Blazeman are spreading the awareness message about ALS and recently in partnership with Northwestern University funded a major research breakthrough re: the common cause of all ALS. Knowing the cause is the first step to understanding how to treat it. To put this work into perspective, no breakthroughs from 1939 when Lou Gehrig died to 2011 now the Blazeman Foundation has raised funds since Jon's passing and in 5 years have a major breakthrough.

Stopping by the Blazeman booth and sharing time with Mr. Blais was inspiring. Want to join the cause go to the website above or email Bob at

After passing by the Blazeman booth I sought out what I term "the super bikes". The next generation of aero fast bikes. I dropped into the Specialized booth to see their 1 day old Triathlon Shiv. My initial thoughts are: BLAH. If you are going to build a super bike 100% dedicated to triathlon, PLEASE GO FOR IT! Don't take your current model, add a few bells and whistles with no aero data to support it and call it the fastest there is. From there I visited the BMC booth and really dug the Swiss precision. Clean lines, integrated front and rear brakes, dropped rear triangle. Integrated aero cockpit. Only thing missing was BB30 (Cervelo version being the BBright) bottom bracket to shave weight, and add stiffness/power. Then onto Trek to see their Speed Concept and like the BMC very clean lines, integrated brakes, great aero cockpit but they have not integrated their own BB30 bottom bracket system.

Last I visited my bike support crew where they had their wind tunnel tester with a vague promise for January 2012 launch of the NEXT GEN P series. I ride currently the "THEN GEN P3" (see picture right side bar of blog.) NEXT GEN P will have the Cervelo BBright bottom bracket but otherwise they are tight lipped re: bike features!!!!

Here are some photos of those bikes:





Last, we finished off a great day with the team dinner. Great night with great friends!!!

Tomorrow I start the day again in the ocean! YIPPIE! From there, hope for more surprises!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Kona diary Day 3: legends....

friends and family,

Day 3 here in Kona has been a bit of whirlwind. The winds are up, the swells in the ocean are up, the local surfers are happy; the triathletes are nervous!!

For those not too far off their rocker and into this sport like me (all of you clearly smarter!) today was unveiling of the new Specialized Tri specific bike. Essentially this little rocket is causing a stir in the sport because they signed Craig Alexander to promote the bike. I don't know all the details other than Craig was riding Orbea for the past 7 years, showed up at the half Ironman world championship in Vegas 3 weeks ago on a Cervelo causing major internet forum buzz, and is now front center on Team Specialized. Personally the marketing cynic in me believes Specialized paid him to show up at said Half Ironman on a Cervelo to create the buzz then held the secret until today about he joining them as day one of Super Bike launch....but that is just me. I hate marketing...anyway...

The upside of the Super-Bike Specialized launch was having the pro team in town to do the promotion. The best part of triathlon is our culture where pro's start the same course amateurs do, and sleep in same hotels and eat at same restaurants. It's not cycling elitism; its community. This morning at Lava Java, the local hangout in town for great coffee and food, Meredith and I shared breakfast with:

- Olympic gold and silver medalist Simon Whitfield
- World and Olympic champion Emma Snowsill
- 3 time world champion (duathlon, junior tri, elite pro) Tim Don
- 2 time world champion Javier Gomez
- Multiple world series race winner and 2012 Olympic favourite Paula Findlay
- Fastest Ironman record holder  at 7:45 Mario Vanhaucker (before it was lowered to 7:41 by Realart)
- 2 time Kona Ironman Champion Norman Stadler

That was the breakfast crowd! Fine company and yes, I was a little star struck truth be told. Mostly by Javier, he oozes class mate, he really does. He is to the right of this photo of Simon and Paula.

I also got to have a quick chat with one of my top 3 favourite Ironman athletes Norman Stadler. He retired this year after open heart surgery. He's a class guy in my opinion. A two time champion. He put Kuota bikes on the map and owns the Kona bike course record riding 180kms in 4:18. Yes, I typed that....4:18. Ridiculously FAST!

My day was book ended with an ocean swim out the Coffees of Hawaii floating espresso bar; a 45km ride into 40-50km/hr winds to Hapuna Beach and ending with a Team Canada dinner at the Kona Brewing company. Great evening to cap off a great day.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Kona diary day 2: Energy lab

Day 2 started like day 1 today; a nice 30 minute 2km swim at the pier. Plenty more people there this morning that yesterday and I suspect the anticipation will only grow as the week goes on.

From there I met Meredith and headed for the breakfast buffet and then onto Lava Java for coffees/teas. Lava Java has been taken over by Team Commerz Bank and Scott bikes. The whole team was there this morning for breakfast including 2 time winner Norman Stadler and favourite for the 2011 race Mario Vaunhaucker (spell is wrong there for sure!). The place was a buzz with energy and might be avoided later in the week.

I then head out to the Energy Lab to experience that section of the run in the peak of the Kona heat. Suffice to say, this was a bit of a confidence sucker as I felt like I was going to melt into the asphalt coming back out. Literally, COOKING!  Legs felt great running though, but man, that was really hot!!!

A nice meal to close out the day with the Endurance Sport Travel team at Bubba Gump's and a few purchases along the walk and voila, day 2 is complete!!!

of course, we had an ice cream watching the waves and sun too....see below:)

Kona Day 1: Inspired already....

Welcome friends to my first of daily journals from Kona, this being Sunday evening October 2nd after a pretty long journey in yesterday. Our flight to LA on Air Canada = GREAT; our flight from LAX to Kona on UNITED = well, typical United.....landed safe though which is what matters after a pilot announces "making a fix as the whole flight is over water"

AH, yes please, FIX THAT!

Ended up sitting beside the Rachel Joyce family support team from London, England. We talked rugby more than Ironman I think-:) Great group and her 5th place last year was no fluke, the girl can run like wind. Be great to see how she does.

We were picked up at Airport by Ty from Endurance Sport Travel and then again this morning to join their crew for a great home cooked breakfast. There we met the first few of the 100 or so travel guests the crew have as clients this week. Among them, Tara Costa from The Biggest Loser TV show of which Meredith works out to religiously.  You can learn more about Tara by visiting but what I would like to say is, she was given a chance to do better for herself on the Biggest Loser and she took it by the you-know-what's!!!! She then took that learning to do better for others. Her Foundation is now working on educating and changing America's childhood obesity problem. Example I said to her today, at my work vending machine a Dasani bottled water is $1.25. A can of coke is $1. They are both Coke products and Dasani is tap water bottled so tell me, how is that possible?   She is out in schools, communities, local races, even F-100 companies educating the impacts obesity has and how we can do better. In the short 30 minutes I learned quickly, Tara Costa has my and Meredith's RESPECT. And yes, she is racing Saturday!!! INSPIRED!

Workout wise today I started with a 30 minute swim in my new speed suit! It ROCKED! Water was nice and warm and the salt water+suit kept me flying through the water...good confidence boost. Late morning was a 70km ride up to Hawi and back. The winds were very manageable and my legs felt sweet! 

My biggest stress right now is two fold:
Kona Brewing Company Lager or Pale Ale?
What kit do I race in Saturday?

Tough choices!!

That's it for tonight. Hopefully I can get some inside scoop on Specialized press conference tomorrow that has none other than Simon Whitfield in attendance. Yeah, Simon says LONDON2012WIN!!