Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Triage: to determine priorities for action.

Triage as a word means the determination of priorities for action in a state of emergency.

I don't think my triathlon career was in a state of emergency for anyone....BUT ME.

Hawaii 2011 reinvented myself as a triathlete. I had taken 3 years off. I was burnt out. But training for that race I loved it all over again. So much so, IMC 2012 I really set a course for doing everything I could to be ready, while ensuring an resolute balance in my life at home. I had finally figured out what makes me tick. Balance. Love. Family and a huge sense of self worth in the challenge. So I charted the course, plotted and planned. And in a training camp with Meredith and Gatsby in Lake Placid enjoyed the journey, the wine, the dinners, the love, the family and the test of myself as an athlete to get ready for an Ironman. I nailed a nutrition plan 100% committed to liquid diet for morning and race day. There was no room for GI distress. I had so much, so dialed, and all my family on the ready I just could not wait to prove to myself what I can do.

Then at mile 2 on the run in Penticton the same pain in my right side abdominal wall as Hawaii kicked in. I did everything but to no avail. It was a torturous 4 hour 26 minute marathon. I was saddened and frankly pissed off.

I spent the fall not really committed to anything sport related. I took care of home, Meredith etc. and pondered all the WTF questions one has after failure.

Triage: to determine priorities for action...

Enter my sister. Joanne sent an article on sport hernias. I read it. I went to go see Dr. Grant Lum in Toronto. I got an ultrasound from the best in the business in this space. Those results pointed me to Dr. Irshad, an expert in Sport Hernia surgery.

December 4th is knife day. A small day surgery to fix a sport hernia in my abdominal wall. A few weeks down time. A rebuild of core and mental strength. 2013 game on for a season to test the limits of what I can do after finally fixing what is the ailing issue. It is not mental; not nutrition; not poor fitness; not too much wine (though I could argue I should lay off a bit!!) is actually an acute injury. It is real. It is physical.

I dream of what may be around the corner. I want to shock myself. I really want this to work and go for it.

If it does not. That is life. These aging lines on my face are not that of age; they are smile lines. I have had a good run. Sorry, a good swim, bike, run!!! But I know I have more lines to give and more lessons to teach myself in the depth that is the Ironman test.

Yours in sport,


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Right to Play Ironman Canada Race Report.

Friends and family,

August 26th was leg one of my three event Right to Play Charity Challenge. I decided to get involved with Right to Play because I am learning as I get a bit older that the nonsense that is triathlon is actually quite a gift. A gift both in the physical ability to compete, and the mental capacity to do the work and get the job done. It is a gift to have the financial ability to fly out to Canada's most beautiful place and spend a week plus with family. And these gifts are given because we are first world adults and kids that have so much opportunity. Right to Play help the too many that can't do that and Right to Play does everything it can to create access, to build social skills, to give kids who otherwise have no chance a chance, to succeed in life.

Sport can change lives. I am witness. It changed mine.

If you haven't, please donate to this great cause by clicking this link!

swim start. Just 2600 friends!
Swim: 58:09 - 11th in age group and 72nd overall.
calm before the storm!
I spent a lot of time since last fall building swim fitness with the Kim Lumsdon swim and tri club here in Toronto. My goal was not to get necessarily faster in the water per se, but more efficient such that I use less energy on Ironman day. I had a bit of a shocker start and after about 1KM in began to find a good groove. As we came closer to the buoy at the far side of the swim course the swells felt like they were pushing me around a bit. Sharp right for a few hundred meters and then a right to come home I felt really good but for some reason felt like I couldn't keep a straight line in the swells. My pack put distance into me as I regrouped. From there I led the next group with one other gent. I figured we were doing ok because he was on my left and I breath left so could see his very, very solid swim form! Looking at his form and after putting in a surge or two I realized this was our pace. I was not dropping this group so stayed efficient and calm. Overall I am happy with the swim. Many asked if the swim was long but I think the swells really slowed us down about a minute or two. I am happy with the swim progress.

Big sis, nephew Bryan, and niece Sarah!
Bike: 5:03:14 - 5th in age group and 32nd overall.

After fiddling around in transition deciding what to wear and if my watch was working (it wasn't) I finally got going to my bike. I instantly felt great on the road. Riding out of town I rode through a few athletes along the Skaha Lake to McLean Creek Road.

 Once up and over the steep pitch on McLean Creek a few athletes came by and I decided to let them go. It wasn't too hard of a pace but I was worried my heart rate was 10 beats above where it usually is at the 225-230 watt sweet spot. I didn't want to wreck my race in the first 30KM's of the bike ride. As we dropped down into Okanagan Falls and turned left on highway 97 to head to Osoyoos and the fame Richter's Pass I was curious: "WHERE IS EVERYBODY?" Usually when I do IMC there is a train of riders by this stage but I was solo. I had one rider I could see up in the distance that I used as a carrot but along this road no one was ahead or behind. It was odd but I just stayed to the plan of 225-230 average watts that I reset every 30 minutes. Get the gels, Salt Sticks, and fluids into me and take deep breaths.

Once arriving to Richter's Pass I could see a pack up ahead climbing the pitches of the pass that I assumed was the lead swim pack. One by one I picked them off staying very close to 290-300 watts on the 7% grades and back down to 225 along the flatter sections. My legs just felt so great!! I was praying for stiff headwinds once up and over the pass I felt that good and with great legs in triathlon you want wind. Wind hurts. The more wind, the better for my bike legs to try and create distance between me and the others. Up and over the descent was a thrilling bomb ride to the bottom and from there its seven rollers, a flat section, and then the out and back. It is this part that is usually viciously windy. Today there was no wind! Like ZERO wind in this section!

Some of the riders from Richter's descended well and we formed a group of about 6 along the rollers. As we moved through this section we picked up a few of the women pro's that start 15 minutes ahead of the amateurs. One was Janelle Morrison who frankly is lucky to be alive never mind racing Ironman.
Click that link there and take a read, it is an amazing story; truly.

Once upon the flat section toward the out and back I put my head down and conserved as much energy as possible because my experience with the out and back always sucks. It saps the life out of me. I don't know why so I was preparing for the mental strain that was ahead.

I saw Nigel Gray on the turn into the out and back section. His cheers gave me strength as I headed along the patch that usually strains me. I kept a very acute eye for bees as that has ruined a race. Wild turkeys as I have seen that out there. Riders ahead and behind at the turn. Surprisingly I got through the section pretty good and headed off to Yellow Lake climb. It is here I struggled slightly. My legs started to become tired and the wind up top was picking up. The good news once on top of Yellow Lake there is pretty much descending all the way home. Put the head down, and roll with it!

Back into town I pushed the false flats and gained a bit of time before one last gel 5K from transition and prepared for the run. I was ready and damn excited to get going.

First mile was 7:30. Felt great!
Run: 4:28:54 - 107th in age group and 677th overall

I came out of transition thinking, 'WHOA I FEEL INCREDIBLE!" My legs have never felt better starting an Ironman run! I ran a 7:30 to start that included a quick stop to kiss Meredith and another to hug nephew Bryan. I wish I knew why, once taking the turnaround to head back along Lakeshore Rd. my right soas muscle felt a twinge. 500M later my right ab felt cramping. Exactly the same spot it did in Hawaii. I had no stomach cramps or distention so my nutrition was getting absorbed. I slowed the pace to 8 minute miles and the pain was manageable. But it never went away. I just persevered and played math games from that moment all the way to the 10 mile marker. Just a game within my head to try and keep pace for a 3:30 - 3:40 marathon. Just keep going, keep going. Suck it up. This is a gift. This pace easily beats your PB. You can still do a 9:50 flat Ironman and that is HUGE if you just keep this pace. Shut up Mr. Negative brain; wake up Mr. Positive brain. YOU CAN DO THIS. Look up. Straight ahead. Still on track. You ROCK.

Last mile was 14:00. Felt TERRIBLE!
Then at mile 10 the soas really pulled. The pain sharp as a knife went from the soas up to the diaphragm. One big giant rip along my right side. Bloody hell that hurt! WALK. Stop. SHIT. Regroup. Stretch. Breathe deep.

I went from 3:40 marathon pace to 4:00 hour pace in 3 miles. Run/walk/run/walk to the turn around. I just wanted to get there and get my special needs bag to grab my Tums and chew away. I crushed 5 of them to try and release some gas in my stomach hoping that would alleviate some pain. It worked, for a mile. Things were not good. My brain went in many different directions. As I jogged out of OK Falls up the mile long climb I just thought of Meredith, Dad, Big Sis, Bryan and Sarah. I had to keep going. The disappointment I was feeling was draining away and I reminded myself the gift that is DOING THIS.

I played math games all the way home. Can I beat a 11 minute mile? No. Ok, 11:30? No. OK, 12? YES! Ok, keep going...literally, all I remember for the 2.5 hours it took to run the final 13 miles was the white line. The bloody white line on the road. Head down. Slow jog is faster than walking. White line. I only had the one thought at the turn around re: quitting; the rest was all self talk to keep going and be positive and enjoy life because I CAN. Others, they cannot. This is a gift.

The math became painful with 10KM to go. Initially I thought, 10K is easy. I do this every day. Then I did the math. 6 miles * 12minutes per mile = 1 hour and 12 minutes???? O-M-G! Just keep going. The final mile is easy with the crowd and you will see your family so its an hour. One more hour. Just keep going!

Meredith, Bryan, Dad, me, Sarah, Joanne
Finish: 10:39:01 - 34th in age group and 350th overall

The final mile took my 14 minutes. I was done. I saw Meredith, Dad, Joanne, Bryan, and Sarah and just couldn't look at them. The disappointment was just too much after staying so darn focused just to finish the past 2 hours. As I passed I just covered my face and started crying. Emotions come in different forms for different reasons when you are putting yourself to the test. I felt the test was a fail at that moment. Not to them, to me. 8 months of work, hard miles, quite a bit of money and I just didn't have it.

Big Daddy reminds me stand tall, shoulders back, be proud
I ran the finish shoot and a great girl sprinted past. She was so HAPPY! Once I crossed the line and was caught by the volounteers I walked by her and she said aloud, "OMG. That is SUCH A GREAT FEELING. OMG. I LOVE THIS!" She was on the moon!! I loved it. I turned around and said, "thank you. You're awesome. Thank you." I was thanking her because she reminded me there is no better feeling than finishing an Ironman. Its just you and the test and the ultimate test is the finish line. My mood changed. My tears turned to smiles. I got my photo taken. Chugged back a cola, sat beside Nigel Gray and Steve Fleck and stared out to space. Ironman; whether a great personal performance or a dud, is still the single greatest moment you can bring yourself and test 'what's possible'. Today, 10:39:01 was possible and bottoms up to that!

Epilogue: When thanks is due....

Product support that needs to be called out. They do help me and provide a great service. 
More importantly, none of this is possible without Meredith; period. Thank you. And of course to big sis Joanne and her kids for coming out from Atikokan to Penticton and Dad who came all the way from the UK. It really made for a special experience and when desperately needed, for great motivation to get 'er done! Family makes it all worth *it*. Thank you.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Toronto Triathlon Festival race report

On July 22nd I commuted with Meredith the 8KMs to Ontario Place on the shores of Lake Ontario in Toronto to race the inaugural Toronto Triathlon Festival.  I had the real pleasure to meet the organizing team, referred race announcer Steve Fleck to them, and generally give some advice on minor athlete issues. It was a real honor to be associated with the tireless team and provide however little value I could with the first time race in my city. I was excited and wanted to do well as a thanks to the organizing team who I knew put a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and money into this!

It is extremely hard to get roads closed in Toronto. The TTF not only did that, they were able to close the Gardiner Expressway and Down Valley Parkway east and northbound respectively. This was huge!  It just doesn't happen to get the bike portion of a triathlon on closed roads never mind the main artery for Toronto traffic. We also swam around Ontario Place in a very sheltered and fast section through a marina with million dollar yachts. And finally, we ran along the the Martin Goodman Trail on the shores of the lake that I train on multiple times a week.

Swim: 20:10 (PB) for 1500 Meters.
I had a rocket of a swim! I felt fantastic in my new Highway Nineteen Rogue wetsuit and kept drilling it right to the ramp to exit the water. I was loving the swim and feeling I was on a good day. Some thought the swim was short but my PB was by a slim margin. There were a few turns and the water was a constant depth adding to the speed. If it was short, only by 50M.

Bike: 1:00:23 for 40KM
My bike was interesting. I was turning a top gear and feeling great but wasn't pulling a whole lot of riders back. I know I passed a few in the swim but was fighting self doubt on my bike legs. Turns out I was doing pretty darn good with 5th fastest overall for the day. I was focused and determined to catch the final two guys in sight. I got one just before the no pass zone, and the second I had to hold up for 10 seconds while we went through the no pass zone. Safety first! These ten seconds or so do come up later!

Run: 40:39 for 10KM
I started the run and did my best to stay contained. I wanted to test my nutrition and my issues with stitching. After a KM I opened up and the side stitch issues came and went. I worked through my 3 strategies to take care of this; first, deep breaths from the belly and aggressive exhale from the diaphram. Second, move from left foot to right foot on my inhale and exhale. Third, slow down slightly. Strategy #2 was really working and I picked it up again as Cameron Bush passed me. I tried to hang on but that lasted 10 seconds! The boy can move! Staying within myself I pushed pace and tried to cap a 40 minute 10KM run. Coming to final KM my stitch really bit me and I forced as best I could the pain to the side and ran into the line in agony. I loved it! Awesome run for me!

Overall I finished 4th and won my age group. Good enough to take my spot and join my fellow Canadians at the World Olympic Distance Championships in London England in September 2013! And those 10 seconds? View the results link above and see that 3,4,5 were separated by 2 seconds!!! But, because I am an old guy at 41, I wasn't racing side by side with the other two guys because I started 5 minutes after them in swim wave #2. I am actually quite happy about that, I don't think I wanted that hard a sprint at the time-:) 

Post script:
On reflection it was just so great to race in my home city, on closed roads, with my wife Meredith and little pooch Gatsby alongside. I really enjoyed the race and highly recommend it to my fellow athletes next year. Are there areas for improvement? Of course there is. But overall, for an inaugural event, this was an amazing experience. 

Next up is Ironman Canada. I am ready. Time to put the old weary bones to another Ironman!

Thanks for checking in.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


As some of you may know the Morning Glory Cycling Club was pulled over on a group ride recently and told that they were in violation of the Toronto by-law stating that cyclists must ride single file. The MGCC was told that if they were found riding 2 or more abreast in the future, the riders would be fined.
The MGCC and I have been doing some digging: While there is nothing in the Highway Traffic Act stopping cyclists from riding side-by-side, it is against city bylaws.
Since that incident, I’ve been working with Dan Egan and Christina Bouchard (both of whom work for the city in Cycling Infrastructure and Programs Transportation Services on the best way of getting this bylaw dropped from the books.
Dan and I worked together on the recent Coroner's panel on Cycling death in Ontario. He’s a very good guy. Dan thinks our best bet on getting this law changed is to email the City’s by-law working group. As Dan pointed out to me "The Coroner has sent a letter to the City identifying Recommendation 9 as something the City should address”. Coroner’s recommendation 9 suggests the City do a “comprehensive review of ... City by-laws... to ensure they are consistent and understandable with respect to cycling and cyclists and therefore easier to promote and enforce."
The city now has now formed a working group to review the city's cycling-related by-laws. Several of the panel members in this working group are very sympathetic to this issue. Christina Bouchard (one of the members of this working group) has kindly offered to collect any letters sent on this issue and bring the letters to the group’s attention.
Below is a copy of the letter I sent to Ms. Bouchard (
Dear Ms. Bouchard,
I would very much appreciate it if you would pass on the concerns outlined below to the cycling bylaw working group.
I have reviewed Toronto’s cycling bylaws (as found at: and several of the existing bylaws are of particular concern to those of us who use our bikes for training and competition as well as commuting. As you are probably aware, there has been a marked increase in recent years in the number of road cyclists and triathletes who use City roads not only for commuting, but also for training. This is consistent with the general growth in popularity of road cycling across Canada. Indeed, a recent article in the Globe and Mail (reported reports that the growth rate is in the 10% range and commented that Canadian road cyclist Ryder Hesjedal’s recent victory in the Giro d’Italia is likely to contribute to the continued popularity and growth of this sport:
In particular, I would like to draw the working group’s attention to the following 2 by-laws:
1) No person shall operate a bicycle upon a roadway other than by riding in single file except when overtaking another vehicle.
2) No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle, or article which prevents the rider from keeping both hands on the handlebars
As any cycling club will tell you- riding single file increases (not decreases) the risk to cyclists. A group of cyclists needs more room on the road than an individual cyclists in order to avoid the usual road hazards as well as the cyclists in front or behind them. For this reason- The only safe way for a car to pass a large group of cyclists is to switch lanes. Riding single file adds to the temptation of car drivers to attempt to pass the group without changing lanes, which is not a safe way to pass a larger group of cyclists.
When a group of cyclists claim the lane and ride two or more abreast- it increases their safety in several ways:
1) It sends a clear message to drivers that they must switch to another lane in order to safely pass the group
2) By riding 2 or 3 abreast, the length of the group is shortened by ½ to 2/3, making it far quicker and easier for motorists to pass the group.
As any experienced group cyclist will tell you, Riding in formation with 2 or more cyclists abreast is a standard safety procedure performed by any large group of cyclists. This procedure is so well established that the various formations cyclists use (which are dependent on the wind direction and the speed of the group) have a universally used set of names and the same formations are used by cycling clubs throughout the world (see the following websites for some examples of the formations use):
I should also add that group cycling is supported by the cycling safety research, which shows that increasing the density of cyclists improves their overall safety. Researchers refer to this as the “safety in numbers effect” (
I am also concerned about the bylaw preventing cyclists from carrying any “article” that prevents them from keeping both hands on the handlebars at all times. Presumably, this means it is against the law for cyclists to remove a hand from their handlebar to eat and drink while on their bikes. There is no evidence that eating and drinking while riding is unsafe and as someone who drives a car and rides a bike. I can say that it is at least as safe for me to eat and drink on my bike as it is in my car.
For these reasons, I believe the bylaws noted above should be dropped.
Chris Cavacuiti
Staff Physician, Department of Family and Community Medicine
St Michael's Hospital
Toronto, ON
M4X 1K2

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Welland Half Race Report: another half iron beats me up!

WOW, that was super fun, then sucked really bad, then was fun again.....!

That is how I would describe my Welland Half Iron Experience this past weekend. I was gun shy coming into the event because I have never really been able to nail a half iron distance event before. For some reason the wheels (or sneakers) fall off every time I do one. Given I have done about 20 of these that speaks to how much I just can't figure it out!

Race morning I ate my oatmeal, banana, maple syrup and coffee and then hit the road sipping my bottle of Powerbar Perform. More on this later....

As I arrived the sun was shining, the wind was calm, and some familiar faces abound. Nigel Gray's formative NRGPT crew were there and I teased my old coach about my goal for the day: arrive within 30 minutes of his finish-:) My more serious race plan was to:
  1. test my race day nutrition
  2. get out of swim in good shape up front
  3. ride conservative until Jim Sunners caught me
  4. ride with Jim (LEGALLY!) 
  5. Run hard and fast
Checking previous races I figured a PB was a real possibility given the flat course and shaded run. I was looking at 4:20 to 4:23 as a really good goal to hit.

Swim: I parked myself beside Nigel as in other races we have exited together. Behind me was Andrew Boldon whom I exited with in Woodstock and Binbrook triathlons. The gun went off and Nigel was gone. Humbling moment #1! Then I felt water all in my arms and across my back inside my wetsuit. I was concerned there was a hole, or the zipper wasn't done up correctly. I was making calls in my head "do i hit the shore and take this off and jump back in or will it drain with my lightning speed!?" As we hit the first bouy and turned I felt the water draining. Not sure what it was all about but I will test the good 'ol HWY 19 suit this coming weekend in Lake Placid camp for sure. After my head cleared of all the doubts of sinking with water in my suit, I found a great pair of feet to draft from the remainder of the swim. Sure enough as I exited Andrew was on my feet. It looked like Jakub Macel, me, and Andrew plus a top female swimmer made a good group and my marker man Nigel was 30 seconds out already. Overall I was quite pleased with my swim and felt generally comfortable throughout.

T1: My goal was to be quick and for me I was! Most of my competitors were only a few seconds faster vs. the usual 30 to 45. I felt good and things were thus far on track. Once I hopped onto my bike and tried to get into my bike shoes a gap to Jakub and Andrew occured. I was watching how good they get into their shoes and how absolute crap I get into mine! Humbling moment #2!

Bike: I tricked out my Cervelo P3 for speed and therefore had no power meter or HR monitor to measure the effort. I was racing *naked* for the first time in years. I had the Zipp 808 front wheel and Mavic Disc on the back. No spare tube or extra weight. Just flat out speed. Once I gathered myself and got going I ate 1/4 a powerbar at the 5,10,15, and 20KM marker and by 30K had drank a bottle of Powerbar Perform. At 35, 55, 75, and the end of the bike leg 90K markers I took a Powergel. Overall on the bike I drank 3 bottles and took an extra 2 Salt Stick tablets to top up electrolyte reserves plus the 4 gels, and 1 bar. I felt good about my nutritional plan but looking back that is probably too much. That is about a 10% carb to fluid concentration and simply too high.

At about 10K I caught back up to Andrew and we rode legally (no drafting) together for 20K. I let up to have him pass and said we should trade leads every few KMs and keep the tempo high. For a young kid he was pretty impressive to hear out the tactic and play along. I'm impressed with this young guy, he has talent and smarts about him. I was also thinking how long until Jim comes through. My plan was not to push pace till he caught us, assess how hard he was riding and decide if I should tag on or not. Jim caught the two of us just before the 35K marker and it wasn't hard to stay close. I drifted to the back of he and Andrew and assessed how hard the riding was and can I sustain for 60K. It didn't feel that bad so I laid back there (LEGAL) for quite a while. Lets face it, even if we ride legal in triathlons it is still easier than up front so I let Jim take lead!

As the marshals came by they gave me the thumbs up then went forward and handed Andrew a drafting penalty. I have to say, it was the right call BUT he was caught in a time when he was drafting. He was, for most part, quite legal all day. That's racing, I felt bad for him.  As the KMs passed by and the only hill all day reared its head I made the call the spin past Andrew through the hill and bullet down the other side. As that happened Jim gapped us so I had to chase really hard to get up to him. Once I did I looked back and Andrew was dropped. We now had 25K to go and it was Jim and I rolling along at a really, really good clip. With 10K to go I passed Jim. He must have been resting a bit because I was not changing effort and a few K later he passed me and that is how we rolled into to T2. I was feeling really, really confident as the ride was up tempo and I put hard efforts in. My legs felt great, my mind was fresh. It was game on! I came off the bike 6th overall.

Run: I was running without a watch and had no idea what my pace was. I was keeping Jim's gap steady and could see Jakub up ahead as well. I was loving my New Balance 1440s courtesy of New Balance Toronto and feeling confident in the progress being made.  My diaphram started to cramp so I stopped to pee at 2K and things really felt great after that. The next few aid stations I jammed back some coke and water and was feeling controlled. I wasn't gaining but I wasn't losing either. I knew a few folks were flying behind and I would get caught but was feeling good. I was passed by one racer at 7K, another at 10K but then I could see Jakub walking and was like "right, catch him and were back in this". I pushed a bit and that is when the wheels (ur, sneaks!) fell right off. My stomach locked right up and my ab muscle went into spasm just like Hawaii last year. I was really bloated and started the run/walk approach. I tried a Salt Stick to get electrolytes into me but that just made it worse. I tried gulping fluids but that made it worse! Soon I was from 8th place to 12th. I battled and hoped I could come around and knock out a solid final 5K to hold onto to top 10. As I hit 15K I was definitely in trouble. My run walk went like this:
  • run 90 strides; walk 20
  • then run 65 strides; walk 15
  • then run 50 strides; walk 15
Finally after I dropped out of top 20 I mailed it in at a pace that kept the cramping bearable. Probably 10 minute mile pace at best.

Finish: 4:38 and change with a 1:51 run. I was hoping to run 1:30-1:32 and get that 4:20 barrier. That's racing.

Congrat's to Nigel on his 4:01 finish and win. He makes it look so easy!! Congrat's to all the racers, Andrew Boldon for jumping into the half iron distance at 20 and really gutting it out. Jim Sunners for his fast 3rd place overall finish, and of course thanks to all the volounteers and organizers and community of Welland.  Last, again major thanks to John Salt and his team. They put on AMAZING races and by FAR, have the BEST apres race buffet with Recharge with Chocolate Milk, and HERO BURGER!

After thought: Complete overhaul of my nutrition plan is already in play. Steps to include:
  1. gluten free again into my next race and test how that works out
  2. no oatmeal breakfasts. Works for cycling yes, not for running off the bike
  3. at Lake Placid camp this weekend I will test run two different breakfast plans that consist of breakfast and racing mostly on fluids.
The one consistent to all my stomach issues is my breakfast. I always have an oatmeal breakfast. I really hope it is that simple!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Words of thanks for Binbrook Tri and Ride for Ilijia


I've too damn tired to post. Yes, that is how I know I am doing the work for Ironman! Today's post has two updates.

First the Binbrook triathlon 2 weeks ago. Rain greeted us in the morning but the temperatures were warm so for me, I was happy. I could care less if it rains so long as it is warm, it is the cold I can't stand! Familiar faces greeted me again in Eon Dornellas and Steve Fleck over the PA and I got down to thinking of the task at hand.  I wrote down learnings from the Woodstock triathlon and pulled them out for one last read through. Things like "better transition" and "read course map" were very clear in my mind but other more subtle changes were in the mix to. At Woodstock I could not get over my gear and I felt like I was leaning into something on my seat vs. on top of my seat on the bike. I adjusted the saddle for/aft position over a few interval rides (for/aft = angle of saddle) in between the two races and felt dialed in. Come race day it made a big difference. I also wrote down "surge" in my race notes. By that I meant to put in some surges on the run to test my speed. Otherwise the game plan was the same; swim hard, bike hard, and try to run sub 30 minutes for 7.5K.

Swim and bike: Andrew Bolton and I again exited the swim together after I had an awful start (again) and a choppy swim across the top of the reservoir. For the first time in 14 years at this sport I stepped on a large rock as I stood up in the water! That bloody hurt!! Andrew pipped me out of transition but I was still on much better footing than Woodstock with my in & out of T1. Out onto the bike Andrew proceeded to ride a minute into me out on the road. Jim Sunners, Francois Cote, and Andrew Buzzell passed me on the bike so I was in 5th coming into T2. I did keep them within 20 seconds throughout the final 10K and felt pretty good coming into transition. Andrew Buzzell in particular was very impressive on the bike and watching Francois run out of transition I realized his 30 years was going to trump my 41. So I focused on Andrew to start.

Run: I hopped out of T2 in my New Balance 1440s (which I LOVE!) and felt far more snap in my legs than I did in Woodstock. The run was a mix of winding grass trail and an out and back road section. Catching Buzzell was a morale boost and closing in on Jim gave me hope for a podium. I decided to put in a surge to pass Jim on an uphill and was feeling pretty good. My diaphragm cramps were lingering and while I felt I could run faster, I had to keep that in check. At the turn around I saw a fast, fast flying Brandon Habermehl charging toward me. I did math and thought to stay with him when he comes. Not a chance!! He flew by me! I tried a surge at the next hill and my side stitch that had been lingering below my diagram decided it was time to say HI! I tried the breathing techniques and slowed down, finally stopping a top the reservoir dam with about 750M to go. Suddenly I was worried about Jim catching me! Finally the stitch passed and I was able to run home for a 4th overall finish. Immediately I took off my shoes as the rock I stood on was now a swollen contusion on the arch of my foot! It was quite painful I have to admit and didn't really subside for 5 days after.

Overall Binbrook has a great race vibe and again the Multisport Canada team put on a safe race with a real community vibe to it. I really love this series. It feels more home than others and the people seem far more friendly and outgoing.

Binbrook Results:

The second update is the Ride for Ilijia Petrovski. Ilijia was a main stay on the Ontario Master riding circuit. A multiple provincial Time Trail champion, great patron of the Ontario Peleton, and deep family man.  I always respected how Ilijia carried himself in the group. I talked a lot more with his team mates in the group, Kevin Davis, Brian Kelly etc. just out of where we usually are in the peleton but Ilijia was always there smiling and passionate about our great sport. Unfortunately he crashed this past winter. His injuries severe from head trauma. So, his friends and family put on a charity 100K ride to raise funds for his health care that OHIP does not cover to the tune of $75/day*365= $27,375 a year.  Ilijia was the family bread winner and recently left his TSN job to be a full time cycling coach so money was needed to keep him in good hands, and his family in decent financial position.

My team mate Cary volounteers with the Share the Road campaign and called Brian Kelly up to offer their services in putting the ride on. What went from a small charity ride and BBQ turned into a LARGE ride and BBQ! What transpired last week exemplified everything that is right about cycling. 300 people turned up and raised close to $50,000. Then 3 anonymous donors matched that and over $100,000 was raised for Ilijia's family. Some days I am really proud to call myself a cyclist. This was one of those days. The riding was hard, driving fast stuff that Ilijia would be proud of. Thanks to all that volounteered, participated, and shared the road to make it possible.

Tomorrow is the Welland Half Iron-distance event. I absolutely suck at this distance. I hope to pull one out of the hat and right some more next week!

Till then, ride safe my friends.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Race Report: Woodstock tri!


After a few years off the short stuff I jumped into the Multisport Canada Recharge with Milk Wasaga Beach Olympic distance race last September to get ready for Hawaii. That was a very rude reminder how much speed based triathlon racing hurts! Apparently I forgot all about that because this past Sunday I raced the Woodstock triathlon as part of the Recharge with Milk triathlon series.

The first thing I absolutely loved about the race was how chilled out it was. Everybody was really social. The conservation area was small and tightly spaced so everyone had to gather around and share laughs. The Hero Burger food and Recharge with Chocolate Milk booths were hopping and the expo was jammed packed with great deals. It reminded of racing when I first started! I loved the vibe instantly.  Add onto that Steve Fleck's very personable announcing, complete commitment to give updates to the days real event (Ryder Hesjedal's Giro winning Time Trial!), perfect racing weather, and well, we had a great formula for success here!

My goals were modest but firm. I wanted to swim well, bike hard, then run under 30 minutes for 7.5KMs finishing under 1:30 total.

I started in the first wave with pro, under 39 men, and elite age groupers and boy, I was SHOCKED how fast these kids were to start the swim! HOLY! I thought I did great work this winter getting my swim up to speed but WOW!! Instantly gapped. I rounded my swim in just over 11 minutes and by the looks of quality swimmer times either the swim was a tad long, or a current kept us at bay on the way back to shore. I came out of the water about 9th with some work to do.

As the bike started the sensations were odd. I am used to flying and flying I was not. Getting over on my gear proved difficult but I smiled and enjoyed the pain. Embracing the power of lactic acid I did everything to try and get to the front but only got to 5th coming off the bike. Generally I was pleased. My heart rate told me I was racing hard, about 95% of threshold the whole way. I can't really ask for more. I just need more threshold bike work and maybe, just maybe less wine-:)

Out onto the run I was prepared to feel serious pain. First the legs felt great, then they felt like they were on fire, then they felt great again. It was on/off. I loved it though! The run course was hard packed gravel pathway and was really inviting to almost get lost in what you were doing vs. those darn road out and backs so many races have. A beautiful winding pathway provided plenty of distraction from the pain chamber I was in. Slowly but surely I was reeling in 4th place when I took a wrong turn in the loop. I went left not right. Getting turned around I lost about 45 seconds all told and ran a bit angry for 800 meters. Then my legs asked me what the hell I was doing as I really locked up!

I was then passed by a 26 year old kid; ah, man. I learned his name is Art Hare and the dude can run. I was talking to myself to stay with him but then I laughed at this thought:

  • Dude, you're 41. 

The final few km's I kept my pace steady and prayed the suffering would end! As I turned the corner to finish I had to laugh, 1:30:20 finish time and just over 30 minutes for my run. Losing my bearings cost me but that's racing. I shrugged it off. I was having to much fun! 

As I shrugged it off the kid (like Art at 26 is a kid? To 41 it is!) was all sportsman talking to the race director John Salt telling him I misfired a corner. John took that really seriously and asked his race course lead to come talk to me. We shared our thoughts all in the name of continous improvement for next year. I will tell you this, no other race series I have raced takes that opportunity to listen to the athlete. I was very impressed. the Multisport Canada team really have taken their series up a level. I am impressed. 

Thanks to John Salt, his team, Steve Fleck for great announcing, all the sponsors of the event, my personal sponsors or Endurosport, New Balance Toronto, CerveloIFG, and Rudy Project.

Last, a really big shout out to Eon Dornellas.  It was great to catch up my friend and glad you are doing amazing!!!!

Next up is Binbrook as part of the same triathlon series June 9th.

Train safe friends and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Humpty Dumpty & race season plans....

Friends and family, thanks for checking in!

So first things first; humpty dumpty is pieced back together!! Well at least good enough to give 2012 a crack. I am still stiff in my back at times, but the work Dr. Barbara Brown at the Balance Health Care Center has been doing is nothing short of remarkable.  Dr. Brown focuses on an innovative technique called Matrix Repatterning, an innovative technique that I am 100% bought into both in theory, and now in practice. A little word on what it is:

  • Matrix Repatterning™ is a process of detecting and releasing significant tension patterns within the tissues of the body. These patterns are created primarily by forceful injuries to our body structure, like car accidents or big falls, or from scar tissue resulting from surgery or injury. Due to the network of connective support tissue throughout the body, one area of strain can transmit strain to multiple sites. These sites, under this stress, can then manifest symptoms such as repetitive irritation of joints, chronic muscle tension, dysfunction of organs and simply local tenderness on the surface of the body structure. Simply put, the body is in a state of imbalance. Practitioners of this technique seek to find and release the primary sources of strain, thus releasing all the compensatory changes and allowing the body to return to normal.
After three visits with Barb I feel really amazing. Really freed up. If we take the theory behind her practice, add in the bike crashes and the rugby collisions, and the vicious contusion to my tail bone in rugby it really does add up to why my lower disc is a problem. She really freed up some areas and I am grateful.  

I also wish to thank Dr. Scott Howitt at Sports Performance Centers. Dr. Scott and I met in Kona in 2003 and I have trusted his advice and services ever since. He has a mind for fixing sport pain and a way with the acupuncture that really calms my intensity.  He is also a nutritionist and marathon runner so, he gets it.

Second, given the new found freedom to move; well I've been training! The past 18 days I have been able to get in a good block of training. My running will come as I build the long runs but pretty pleased to report yesterday's 25KM run was easier than the Monday before 25KM run! I did these runs on a Monday with the long weekend and various work commitments etc. They will probably move back to either Thursday nights or Sunday afternoons in my next block.

I am in a recovery week from today, Tuesday, thru to Sunday where I get my first hit out of the tri season racing John Salt's Multisport Canada Woodstock Ontario triathlon. It is a short and sweet 750M swim; 30K bike; 7.5K run triathlon.  Perfect to test the fitness and get the season started. 

From there my race consists of racing Multisport Canada's Binbrook triathlon June 9th, and then their Welland Half Ironman June 24th. From there Meredith and I will hit Lake Placid NY for a 4.5 day tear the door of the hinges tri camp. And finally, my last triathlon before Ironman Canada on August 26th will be the Toronto Triathlon Festival Olympic distance race July 22. 

It feels great to get things heading back in the right direction.

Hopefully next blog I can bring you all up to speed on some of the community events I am getting involved with alongside the bike team. 

Till next time, thanks for checking in and stay safe out there!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why Bruce Springsteen is important (to me & you)

Friends and Family,

For the first time on my blog I am moving outside my sport column to my other passion of music. I feel compelled to share why I believe, now more than ever, Bruce Springsteen is important. This is not a concert review, though it will share some highlights from what was, after 27 years of concert going, the single greatest night of rock 'n roll I have witnessed last Friday night at MSG (4-6-12 BTW: 23 years after my first Dead show!) No, this is a reflection on why his music resonates and why it is important to listen to in these times of loud headlines, little substance, short thoughts.

I didn't grow up with The Boss. I remember The River release. I definitely lived Born in the USA in grade 8. But I never absorbed what he was saying. Never understood what the deal was.  As I was rolling into my 30's I started to listen more intently to Bruce. It started with The Rising, his release post 9/11 and the first in 18 years with the E-Street Band. This record reminded me why I loved music like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, U2, and of course my beloved Grateful Dead. Simply put, music to me is about storytelling for our times. I learned listening to The Rising that through music we can tell stories that mean something that can, in turn, create change and enact action. I haven't felt that really ever on a mass scale like perhaps those in the 60s did. I always lived and breathed what I learned in my home growing up and on the road with The Dead; love, respect, hard work, giving. But as The Dead scene grew out of its skin and into a freak show those final years I was getting disenchanted with what music was becoming both within my scene, and outside on the charts.

Then I saw this video of Bruce & the E-Street singing My City of Ruins. As the story goes Bruce was on the Jersey shore watching NYC literally crumble. A car drove up and said, "Bruce, we need you now more than ever". That was it, Bruce put the band back together and wrote a record I think (now I have listened to all his records) is his best.  This song was in his pocket as I understand it, but he pulled it out and played that night and moved a nation.

This song moves me because yes we can create and enact change with these hands come on, come on, come on rise up

I finally saw Bruce in 2009 in Toronto at the ACC. I studied for that show and learned that the press are not over blowing how his music speaks for the masses; the middle hard working class that fight and scrap for every dog bone they get in life. I grew up from a family of coal miners. Hard work is DNA. 1 minute into Badlands that night I was sold. I turned to Meredith and said, "I get it now. I get why he's called The Boss". It shook me deeply that night from Badlands, to Rosolita I was all in. It was about Love. Respect. Hard Work. Giving.  Bruce sang it, played it. lived it. And the journey spoke to me as I was working hard at work to move ahead, to live and breath easy. I loved my job then and a year later I was closing shop courtesy of the USA meltdown.

Poor man wanta be rich, rich man want to be king, the king ain't satisfied till he rules everything

For the next few years I listened more intently to his music. From Thunder Road's this town's for losers and we're blowing out of here to win to the new album Wrecking Ball's Gambling man rolls the dice, workingman pays the bill his music rings a solid truth in our culture. That is, what gets us by is love, respect, hard work, giving.

Now to be clear, The Boss makes more money than some up on bankers hill <where> the party's going strong but where Bruce separates himself from that top 1%; or probably 0.5%, is his uncanny ability to connect blue collar with white collar, and never ever forget where he came from.  I think that is what the connection is in this house. Never forgetting where I came from. The welsh valleys. Hard coal miner types. Rugby players. Beer drinkers!

Bruce is famous for his Jersey roots. Here he links us back to where it ALL STARTED. Soul Music. 634-5789 with a few brown pops and a crowd surf at age 62! Love. Respect. Hard work. Giving.

And in closing, the connection between stage and crowd is what makes music so lifting, a gift of what is possible. The Boss is not forgetting what got him here. Him, his band, his fans and the Big Man.

We went uptown and the BIG MAN JOINED THE BAND! A celebration with his band mates, his friends, and hard working paying customers.

In conclusion, if you don't or haven't listened to Bruce Springsteen I encourage you to google search his lyrics. I will guarantee you will find a connection from what he speaks to what you live.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Injury. Broken. Humpty Dumpty time...

Friends and Family, thanks for checking in! It has been awhile since I posted mostly because I have been struggling with a thesis. I think I found one, so here it goes.

Injury: Harm or damage that is done or sustained

Old: Far advanced in the years of ones life

Athlete: A person gifted or trained in exercises involving agility or stamina

I am learning these past 2 weeks what attention to detail in my physical pursuits really requires for someone advanced in the years of ones ATHLETIC life. I am not old in the sense of a life span but I am old in the sense of athletic shelf life. 41 in 3 months means I need to be better at paying attention to body signs that, 5 years ago only meant "get a massage". Now those signs mean I need to back off, I need to stretch, I need to think about more strength work, AND, I need a massage.

Since I started sport in I have had the following injuries (that I can remember) in no particular order. None put me out for more than 6 weeks and all felt "fixable". 
  • IT Band left leg at knee resulting in lock knee
  • patella femoral syndrome right knee
  • strained/pulled whatever you want to call it, rotator cuff in left shoulder
  • pulled hamstring
  • 2 broken hands 
  • 1 broken nose
  • 1 broken toe (that hurt the most)
  • stress fracture left shin
  • stress fractures (plural) left foot
  • 10 stitches left elbow from bike crash
  • severely pulled/pinched left groin area (can't remember exact muscle!) from bike crash
  • Bicep femoris left leg pulled
  • right knee muscle sheath torn 
Today, I have the first injury that feels like there is no end in sight. The tunnel remains dark. That my time as an athlete may be running to an end. 

Sciatica nerve in left butt caused, we think, by S1 lower lumbar disc issue. The consequence is severe pain in the left butt and lower back that makes walking painful.  I can swim and that it is.

My mind is made up. This is not how I finish my deeply committed pursuits to kick ass. I will not go out like this. 

My new mantra:


I am committed to putting myself back together. To fixing the root causes of this injury. To being a complete athlete, not just an athlete that trains then races. To an athlete that adapts, adjusts, listens, to pull out of himself what is possible. 

Step 1: at least 7 days completely off exercise. Let the body exhale; relax; breath.
Step 2: expert advice and support
Step 3: ease back into training
Step 4: core and resistance training with stretching YEAR ROUND
Step 5: race when ready, not when available
Step 6: race to win

Tomorrow it's acupuncture from Sports Performance Centres with some killer Athletic Release Treatment. Early next week some more great massage from Helen at Athletic Edge Sports Medicine and hopefully by mid next week I can start to ride some. I suspect running to start April 1st. That would be full 30 days off running; truly sub optimal but such is Humpty Dumpty. Piece myself back together piece by piece by piece.

I will not go out this way. 



thanks for checking in.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Week in the life of DO THE WORK...

Friends and family,

I am liking this writing RE: the theme of *DO THE WORK* so I think I will make a commitment to continue this theme throughout the season.  If you are an Ironman triathlete and reading, think of it as free coaching maybe? If you are family, think of it as "yes, its true, he's crazy". Or if you are reading for giggles, I hope now and again I might motivate you to get outside and love fitness.

This week's theme is a week in the life of DO THE WORK. I've had an unconventional past 9 weeks.  I had 2 weeks of good training, then a week off with a bad cold. Then another 2 weeks of good training and again, a week off with a bad cold. Then back on training for a pretty good 2 weeks of training and BOOM, being 40+ rears its ugly head and I throw my back out. Again, another week completely off. This is not optimal DO THE WORK preparation. But it does teach me to live in the day, I can't change what I missed in training, I can only train what I can do today in preparation for tomorrow.

So my back got a lot better after some great massage and ART by my friends at Athletic Edge Sports Medicine. Helen is the best RMT; Rosti's chiropractic/Athletic Release Therapy (ART) put me right and of course, and Dr. Grant Lum is world class sport's medical Dr.  After a week with them, some acupuncture, ART, and massage I was ready to get back to work.

My past week of training, and in fact all my training, is available for full view on Training Peaks by clicking here. It also linked to the right sidebar for review throughout the year.

DO THE WORK lesson for winter training:

  1. Winter months afford the opportunity to improve your weakness.
  2. Winter months need a spring racing goal to keep you motivated.
Therefore, my two goals through to mid March is to, a) build swim fitness for the season; and, b) get ready for a fast Around the Bay. To that end, DO THE WORK this past week consisted of key swim and run workouts. 
  1. 5 swims totally 13.9KM with a key workout Sunday morning with the Kim Lumbson Masters swim club as follows:
    • 1000 swim
    • 1000 pull with paddles
    • 2*500
    • 4*100 on 1:35
  2. 5 runs including my first run over 1 hour since Hawaii
    • 3 treadmills runs for precise pace & HR training (minimum 1% grade at all times)
    • 1 run off the bike Saturday
Now it is Sunday night so I will sip a nice California Cabernet and take a look at my work and family commitments for the coming week and work my program. Again, family and work make the world go around so I can race. It is priority #1, and #2. So, Thursday night I have a family commitment at Duke's Cycle to get Meredith fitted on a new bike! And, I have an all-day business meeting which means my opportunity to get to the gym over lunch is not available on Wednesday. So, I build my program around that. 

When thinking about your training program, and what it takes to meet your goals, make sure you:
  1.  plan ahead
  2. believe
  3. execute
  4. and keep perspective (for example, if you miss a whole week of training!)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A fast Ironman essay: DO THE WORK LOOKS LIKE...

So a couple of people have asked as follow up to my last blog update re: DO THE WORK; what does "WORK" look like. Here is my take. I suspect the slowtwitch crew would shred this, but here it is.

First, where do I get off being an expert? I'm not an expert of science or physiology and in fact, I have had an Ironman DNF before and 2 run splits longer than my bike splits! I can say, walking for 6 hours and 20 minutes is still A LOT of work. And I can say I have learned a lot of what not to do. I suspect that is why my fast Ironman program is all about simplicity! This said, I have also done Hawaii twice, have two sub 10 hour Ironmans under my belt, two 3:15 marathons, a 1:23 half marathon, a bunch of bike racing podiums, and 10 years trying to get this Ironman stuff right. So here are my thoughts starting with defining 'do the work' then breaking down each part of that equation.

  1. Effective 'do the work' = exercise output + recovery + nutrition.  This is to say that we as age groupers try to cram in the workload of swim, bike, run but eat like shit and don't sleep enough! This is because we lead busy lives with work and family and sport. But to be in the best shape you can be on race day requires attention to eating well and taking the time to recover as it does to doing the workouts.
  2. plan your workouts for each week on Sunday night. Look at your work schedule, kids soccer/hockey/dance schedule; date night with spouse THEN plan your workout schedule. When planning your workouts, have Friday as either completely off, or a light workout such as a 20-30 minute swim or 5K run. You want to be rested for the weekend.
    • TIP: you own your morning before you get to work. Use that to your advantage! Swim with a masters club; get up, eat a banana, get out for a run or trainer ride. The morning is your time before the day goes to pot.
  3. never under estimate the power of the 30 minute run: We are busy. I used to laugh at 30 minute runs and think why bother even putting shoes on. Now, at 40 years old I love the 30 minute run. I can fit it in just about anywhere. Traveling; lunch hours; Sunday night add on workout after a week I don't feel particularly proud of; tired mornings I am supposed to do intervals but just can't get at it. I replace and insert the 30 minute run. Kicks starts my metabolism. I feel good about myself. My day has started. 
    • TIP: 5 minutes easy; 5 minutes regular pace; 15 minutes of tempo or 1 to 2 minute pick ups; 5 minutes cool down. 
  4. It is all about the bike: No, this is not because I race bikes for fun on the side. Effective Ironman racing requires the ability to absorb a rediculously long bike ride of 180K and then run 42.2K. Folks, that is rediculous when you think about that volume. We are inside the bubble as Ironman athletes so we can be blinded by the fact, that is absurd! To this end, when I design my program, I am building my aerobic bike base A LOT. How do we do that effectively?
    • TIP: winter program in Canada is primarily on the trainer. January is about high cadence and building form and efficiency. There is only two ways to ride a bike faster; a bigger gear or the same gear quicker. January I really work on form and keep my HR at or below what I would on race day. February is about building strength. Long intervals of 10 to 30 minutes up and down the gears, lots of slow cadence high pressure on the pedals work. March is about upping the intensity a bit and hill repeats for strength NOT VO2 max though. By that, the hill repeats hurt the legs, not the lungs.
    • TIP: once the spring comes and you are outside riding PLAN AHEAD. Don't just ride out the door to nowhere. Plan your route and DO NOT BONK! Bonking is the biggest limiting factor as it kills us for potentially days afterwards. Always take extra bars and gels.   
  5. Working backwards from race day: This is as basic as it gets folks. 
    • TIP: Mark 8 weeks out from your Ironman. It is from here that it is game on training wise. Broker deals with family that this is the gut check part of season and you will need some leniency on day to day operations! 
    • TIP: mark 4 weeks out from your Ironman and put an X on it. That is simulation weekend.  Take a few days rest/easy workouts into this weekend. Saturday is your day to test 180K (I do 200K) with a 30 minute run afterwards and get your nutrition dialed in which includes breakfast. Schedule time to nap late afternoon. Sunday is your day to do a long swim and long run of up to 2:30
    • TIP: plan your race week nutrition. Do not show up to race site and think right, sandwich and pasta deals all week. Guaranteed death. That is all salt, all preservative, lots of garlic in pastas etc. See nutrition planning below
  6. It's an attrition war: Once off the bike, the fastest person to the finish is the one who breaks last. I have not nailed this yet and quite honestly it is why I keep trying! My fastest IM run is 3:43. I have done two marathons at 3:15, a half marathon at 1:23, a 10K in 37 off the bike. Some research tells me at that speed it should be possible to do 3:30 minimum and 3:20 as stretch.  The limiting factor is limiting the losses on the back half of the marathon. That is about strength not speed. 
    • TIP: hill repeats are your friend. They build form and strength.
    • TIP: Winter and spring plyometrics work helps if you can. In fact, I would argue drop two workouts from swim, bike, run to get these in. They can be done at home. Squats, jumps, lunges, bands, situps, pushups etc. Note: no weights required!
  7. Recovery is a sleep equation. I have seen people sleep 4 to 5 hours a night and be able to perform. Folks, they are not normal. 8 hours a night during big volume weeks is a general rule of thumb. Find a way. And if you can nap (my wife can't!) do it but no more than 1 hour. It's a quick recharge the batteries nap, not a deep REM sleep nap.
  8. Nutrition: My single biggest change for the 2012 season in what I put in because what you put in, is what you get out! I have gone gluten free and finally, slowing way down on alcohol. I am also staying with one nutrition product in Powerbar as that is what is on course and also carries best mix for me of sodium (200mg per gel and bar) 
    • TIP: I have learned after doing a few 6+hour Ironman marathons that the body just can't shove a bunch of stuff into it's belly and expect to run! Do math. 6-8% carbs:fluid ratio is the max the stomach can absorb on race day in my experience. Your blood is in your legs, not your stomach so anything more and the stomach cannot process it. 
    • TIP: day to day nutrition is an interesting paradigm. I read so much about protein diets; high carbo foods for athletes to store glycogen etc...I will get REALLY SIMPLE here. Each meal must consist of carb, protein, fat. Your high volume weeks there is more carb's on your plate, but it cannot be the only thing on your plate. The best way to get healthy protein and fats is to eat things like poultry, nuts, and color. Lots of veggies, lots of fruits. If you are eating fruit as a snack, eat with yogurt. The insulin spike of fruits by themselves (in my experience) causes a crash 30-45 minutes later. Yogurt (greek is the BEST!) buffers this.
    • TIP: race week limit fiber. Eat white bread with nutella. Add salt on salads. Poultry, rice is your friend. Don't overeat race day breakfast and drink an electrolyte bottle the hour leading into start of race. Small sips over the hour.

So, what do my high volume weeks look like? Here is a shell, but I also don't plan it necessarily by a 7 day increment. Usually 10 days, few days easy, repeat. But, my training logs show that I consistently in big volume weeks do about 18 hours of work. That is what my life allows.

  • Monday: easy swim of about 2K; 30 minute run
  • Tuesday: masters swim 3K; 2 hour brick or lunch time run and evening bike hill repeats
  • Wednesday: 2 to 2:30 evening bike with intervals
  • Thursday: masters swim 3K; 1:30 run
  • Friday: off
  • Saturday: Lake swim 30 minutes; 5 to 6 hours on the bike; 20 minute run off the bike
  • Sunday: long run 2 to 2:30
  • TOTAL: 18 hours.