Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Biggest week

Last week was my biggest for this 18 week program to Ironman Whistler. Just a tad over 20 hours and 400kms clocked. Not that I've not done such hours and mileage before - the biggest weeks in my past Ironman training programs were sort of similar. And I have logged in around 18 hours for the past few weeks so this wasn't too much a shock to the system.

With forecasted rain on Saturday, I had to swap my long ride to Sunday and do my long run on Saturday instead. I had 3 hours on the program and the skies looked a bit ominous when I started my run. I wasn't sure how long the weather would hold but thankfully it did, apart from a short period of drizzle. It kept my body temperature cool too. I did 4+ loops around my neighbourhood and did not stop for water until 2 hours into the run. I clocked just under 37kms, which is my longest training run ever - with an average pace of 5:52 per km, a bit quicker than the previous week. It was a nice change having to run on fresh legs without a long ride the day before. 

So Sunday morning I did my long ride - 180km was on the program. I did the extended Lakeside loop, 3 times through. Because of the swapped days, my usual partners in crime were not able to ride with me. The weather started off really promising with clear blue skies but the dark clouds started forming towards the end of my ride. It was pretty windy throughout most of it. Managed to clock 182kms in just under 6 hours. And the rain held off until after I did my 30 min brick run - my legs were feeling pretty sore but I managed a decent average pace of 4:48 per km.

I was meant to have a cross fit workout on Monday but I decided to take a full day's rest to recover. Sometimes it is important to listen to our body and not get caught up with what's on the schedule. Just under 4 more weeks to the big show, let's not take any chances.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Itchy backside

I've just signed up for Ironman 70.3 Muskoka! I've been eyeing it for a while now. It's less than 4 hours drive from us. No need to dismantle and box up my bike. No need for airport check-ins. No need to worry about what can or cannot fit into our luggage allowance. Just pack everything you need and leave the house at our own time, on our own terms. Only thing that was stopping me was the race is two week's after Ironman Whistler.

Not sure how quickly I would recover post the Ironman or what sort of shape I'll be in. So I gave myself a little test. I had quite a big load of training this week post the Musselman half iron triathlon last weekend. I was going to see how I fared before I sign up. But I was also conscious that because of the additional 70.3 World Championships spots - increased to 100 this year, the event might sell out. I may not be fit enough to contend for a spot and I generally do better at the full iron distance than a half iron distance, but then again, you never know!

So my first session during the week was a 2 hour easy paced ride on Tuesday. I probably took it up a notch to a moderate steady pace and completed 60km in that 2 hours. Wednesday was the weekly Splash N Dash but I did a 50 minute warm up run before as it was in the program. The weather was warm enough so most of us swam without wetsuits. My swim time was 3 minutes slower for the 1.6km distance but my run time was close enough to the previous weeks. Thursday I had a 3 hour ride - I went out really went with the wind on my back but struggled a bit coming back in the headwind. Still I clocked 93km with an average pace of 31kph, pretty happy with that. Friday was 3.7km swim set, didn't have much issues there.

It's the mega weekend training that gets me anxious. I had an 180km ride in the program on Saturday, my first ride of this distance this year. Thankfully, I had some company with me - Greg, Clare and Peter. So the long ride went by pretty quickly and we finished in just a little bit over 6 hours. Sunday was the litmus test - long run of 2 hour 45 minutes. Although I generally do well in the run part of the triathlon, it's my least favourite training session. Maybe because I put too much pressure on myself. It is a very different scenario, running on my own and running in the race atmosphere with lots of cheers and support.

Anyway, the long run turned out really well. The cool weather helped. I did 33.5km, averaging well below 5 minute per kms. Pleased with my training scorecard this week, I jumped straight onto the computer and signed up for Muskoka.

I think I have an addiction... hehehehe.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Musselman half iron triathlon

Before I start my race report, I'd like to draw attention to a tragedy that occurred in the Mini Mussel sprint triathlon the day before. Michael Coyle, a participant from Rochester, New York sustained fatal injuries on the bike leg. We were informed of his death at the welcome dinner and took a moment of silence on race morning. My deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of Michael. May he rest in peace.


Musselman - hosted in Geneva, New York in the Finger Lakes region and named after the zebra mussels that inhabit the lake waters. About 4+ hours drive from us, that's for actual drive time. We spent about 1.5 hours queuing up at customs. When we arrived in Geneva, we were quite amused at what a quaint little town it was with its historical looking buildings. We were housed in the dorms of Hobart & William Smith Colleges, about 3kms from the race site. Li-Ann and I were lucky to get a 2 bed dorm so we had a bit of privacy. 

The race briefing was at the Smith Opera House in downtown Geneva. The race director, Jeff Henderson is a funny guy. I especially liked it when he posted the course for Tour de France as the bike course rather than the actual one. He also asked us to watch out for horse pulled carriages on the course as it is the mennonite area. I thought he was joking but I later found out he wasn't! 

We met up with the rest of the London triathlon club people at the welcome dinner and then proceeded to rack our bikes. Nice touch by the organizers printing out each person's name and the reason we're doing the race (we filled this in the online registration) on the racks. Then, it was time for bed. Now, this is a first for me. I do sometimes get pre race nerves and usually take some time before I fall asleep. But this is the worst case of pre race insomnia I've had! It wasn't until 2 hours before my alarm was set to go off that I fell asleep.

Team Sheri and London Triathlon Club members. Picture taken from Sheri Fraser Coaching facebook page.

Remember why you do this, Kevin - Training for Ironman Whistler!!
So race morning came and the alarm went off at 4.45am. I tried not to get myself too worried about my 2 hours of sleep. I did Google whilst I was lying awake that it's the few nights of sleep before the race which is more important, rather than the night before. There was a bit of a queue getting into the park but I managed to set up my transition without too much drama. A last minute visit to the toilet and surprisingly no queue there. The swim starts in Seneca lake in anti clockwise direction and finishes through a canal. I was in the 2nd wave - two minutes after the elite. There were only about 60 of us in our wave plus the 20 or so in the elite. So it wasn't very crowded and I was swimming in clear water after a couple of hundred metres. Water visibility was good too and the buoys were large and easy to spot. Once we got into the canal, it was a bit more murky and there were a lot of weeds. I had to pull some off my face mid stroke. I came out the water in just over 30 minutes, a couple of minutes better than I expected.

Not much drama in the transition. Though my pedals with my clipped on shoes were positioned not exactly how I wanted as I pushed the bike to the mount line. Took me a while to mount the bike but only a few seconds lost. The bike course is like a distorted figure 8. Yes, I did see some Armish people in their horse pulled carriages on the other side of the road! We rode into the headwinds for the first 20km or so. It was tough and I found that I did not have much power.  Having said that, not many were overtaking me until about 30km, and even then only a handful of guys. There were some small climbs but mostly rolling.

The tailwind in the opposite direction was most welcomed and my average speed went up again. But it was shortlived. It didn't help that we came to a 3.5% climb that was about 3.5km (coincidence?) long. But I knew soon after that we were in the last 30kms stretch home in the tailwind again. But... the race organizers threw in a twist - we rode into Sampson park with a long stretch of gravel road, I was lucky not to get a flat! Out of the park, only a few more kms from home, I was impatiently waiting to get off the bike. My bike computer was showing over 91kms and we were still cycling.

Finally got to transition, almost went the wrong way but luckily the volunteer quickly pointed me to the right direction. Got off the bike in 2 hours 41 minutes, not great but pretty happy considering the course. A quick T2 and it was on to the run - where my race usually starts! But it was now pretty hot, and I found myself struggling to keep up a quick pace. Still, I knew the others were struggling as well. The distance markers were of course, in miles. And my GPS could only last 3+ hours so I decided to turn it off and use the basic stopwatch function instead. My mental arithmetic was put to the test at each distance marker, I was converting the miles to kms!

The run course was tough with many climbs and gravel paths. I had a few John McEnroe's "You cannot be serious!" moments. There was a part infamously called the goat trail - only goats go up there! But the local community totally embrace the event, we ran past houses where the locals spray their garden hoses to keep us cool. There were many sections where local bands were playing music to keep us going. What comes up must come down - the last few miles, we had a long stretch of downhill running before we run into the park again. Li-Ann was there to greet me in my final mile and I briefly muttered to her her how tough the course was. I had about a minute before the clock strikes 4:55 so I decided to give it a sprint finish - crossed the finish line with 4:54:59! Clocking 1 hour 41 minutes for the run.

I finished 5th in my age group and 28th overall. Not my quickest half iron distance finish and a bit far off from my 4:45 target but I'm pretty happy with the result. Click here for full results. A great practice race for Ironman Whistler in 6 weeks time. The finishing area spread was good, sponsored by Red Jackets and Wegmans but I wasn't in much of a mood to eat. I gave most of it to Li-Ann, which is far less than what she deserved given she had to endure the hot long day waiting for me. Love you!

Cold ice bath at the finishers area, just heavenly!
I did sleep much better that night, in fact I knocked out just past 8pm and didn't wake up until 6am the next morning. Now, I'm back in London and enjoying my couple of days break before I get back into training again.
Slightly alternative finisher T shirt and medal, which is a recycled bike cog

Monday, 8 July 2013

Week 11

So it has been a week since the Niagara Camp. I had a lighter training load this week. But it doesn't mean that it was much easier. I felt good at Wednesday's Splash N Dash - 1.6km swim and 5.2km run in 48:19, my fastest time so far. Not a huge improvement but I had been pretty consistent and the speedwork doesn't hurt as much now. Thursday was the usual 3 hour ride to Lakeside and back, which I surprised myself with another great pace of 33kph.

Friday morning I did a 3.6km swim in the morning - a bit of a pyramid set from 200m to 800m back to 200m. In the afternoon I ran for 1 hour 15 minutes in some pretty humid conditions. I could squeeze the a huge puddle of sweat out from my singlet after the run. On Saturday I only had a 3 hour ride in the program and I did it with Peter, Greg and Clare. We left from Lambeth. Greg and Clare rode there as they had a 6 hour ride to do. We rode to the Fingal area and came back with a decent pace, clocking just over 100kms in under 3 hours 15 minutes.

Sunday I had another ride of 2 hours 15 minutes. It was a bit foggy and the air was quite dense and moist. I tried on the Giro Selector aero helmet. It did feel a bit warmer than my road helmet but I was sweating in my upper body too, not just my head. I also tried on a 2 piece Champion System tri suit I bought at clearance price at the Guelph Lake race few weeks ago. Wasn't as comfortable as I hoped and I got some chaffing by the end of the ride. Hence, I decided to use it only for training. There was a bit of headwind coming back, so my pace slowed down but only a bit slower than Thursday's ride. Off the bike for a 1 hour 15 minute run. My legs only felt good for the first 30 minutes. After that it was a slow jog to the finish. I did almost 1km less than what I would normally run in that time.

I'm racing the Musselman Half Iron triathlon in Geneva, New York this coming weekend. It's about 4 hours drive from where we are and we'll be crossing the US border for the race. I'm pretty excited and hope to do a PB. It'll be a good lead up race to Ironman Whistler, which is only 6 weeks after this one. How time flies!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Niagara training camp

Picture taken from Sheri Fraser Coaching Facebook page
So it was the Canada Day long weekend and what comes to mind of most triathletes when there is a public holiday? More training! Coach Sheri organized a 3 day training camp over the long weekend in the Niagara region. Li-Ann decided to come along and it turned out to be quite a writer's retreat for her. We stayed in the Welland Residence and Conference Centre along with the others. We had just over 10 units booked altogether, each unit has two bedrooms. The place is a residential college but it's pretty decent, with complimentary breakfast and room cleaning service. And for $170 per unit for two nights, we had no complaints!

The journey to Welland was about 2 hour 15 minutes drive. The first session on Saturday was a swim in the Welland canal. It was a refreshing swim and for once we get to see past our hands underwater, a pleasant change compared to the murky water of Lake Whittaker which we are used to. We had to be careful and watch out for rowers and paddlers as they have their back facing us, so they can't see us! After a quick lunch, we then head out for a nice and easy 60km ride in the St Catherine area. We did the infamous Effingham (what an apt name!) hill twice. The average gradient is 11% with most of it at 14-15%, peaking just over 16%. Dinner was a pot luck BBQ where plenty of laughter from funny and some embarrassing race experiences were shared. Li-Ann baked chocolate brownies which were an instant hit.

The next morning, it was quite a fight getting breakfast in the dining room. As if having 20 over hungry triathletes in a small room wasn't bad enough. Becasue it was the long weekend, the place had plenty of other visitors including a tour bus from USA and a conference group from Bangladesh. Still, I was able to get my two servings of bagels and cereal in very quickly. We had a long day ahead of us. Only a few of us were training for Ironman, so the rest had shorter rides but we had to ride for 6 hours. We rode to St Catherine again, to Balls Falls and did the second half of the ride by doing laps of Effingham hill - we climbed that hill about 8-9 times, I lost count! One of us had a flat resulting from a cut tyre, 100km into the ride. But with a bit of sealant from the support station, we were good to go for the remainder. We finished 160km in just over 6 hours and did a 8km brick run to the canal and back. Yes, we did sleep well that night!

Final day of the camp, everyone had tired looks on their faces at the breakfast table. Another 1 hour swim in the canal was on the program. But not before the trademark pyramid photo for every Sheri training camp! After the swim, we checked out of the residence and drove to one of our locals for our long run. She had a nice big field of grass in front of her country house, where we could park all of our cars. It took me a while to locate her house though. I was a bit late as I dropped Li-Ann off at McDonald's, and the rest already started running. I wasn't sure where we were meant to run but I remembered Sheri saying something about Short Hills park. So I ran to Short Hills and did the trails.

Boy, was I in for a shock! Some of the trails were pretty technical and you know how much I hate getting my shoes soiled. There were some parts where there was more than one direction to take and it wasn't clearly marked. I was glad I came out alive! I ran back to the car to get some water, it was already almost 18km by then. I was tempted to stop at that but as the weather was quite cool, I decided to head out to make it at least 30km - on the road this time! But that doesn't mean the route wasn't challenging, there were some climbs which we rode the day before. Finally, I finished with 31.2km in 2 hours 45 minutes. Sheri was just driving out as I was running back in and everyone had already left!

A quick lunch at Pizza Hut (yes, you can say I'm not the best example when it comes to my nutrition) and then it was the drive home. Over the 3 days, I swam 7km, rode 220km and ran 39km but shared many moments of fun and laughter. I'm glad I have an off day from my training schedule today as I'm feeling pretty sore and tired. Still have to work though...