Monday, 28 July 2014

Week 17 of 26

So the number of weeks left to Ironman Malaysia has now gone into the single digits.

I started the week with a swim session on Monday. Legs felt a bit tired but it was refreshing to be in the pool. Main sets were 2 x 400m swim, 2 x 500m pull buoy, 2 x 600m swim. Tuesday morning I did a weights and core session in the gym, it has been 4 weeks since I've gone to the gym and I was pretty sore after. In the evening, I did the usual 90km ride to Lakeside and back. It was hot and windy but still managed over 30kph average.

Wednesday was Splash N Dash in Lake Whittaker. I did a two loop warm up swim, had the leaky goggle issue again but wasn't too bad this time. I got dropped off the draft pack in the swim and came out about a minute behind. I worked really hard in the run but just couldn't reel in those in front. I got a PB though - 45:54 overall finish time, 25:19 for the 1.6km swim and 20:35 for the 5km run.

Thursday morning I slept in instead of doing the morning swim, which meant I gave up my full rest day on Friday. I ran in the afternoon in Springbank for 90 minutes, nice day and bumped into Mike running from the opposite direction. I had interval sets of 7 x 7 minutes fast/3 minutes easy so that made the run go by quicker.

I finally did my second swim pool set on Friday evening. Main sets were 5 x 200m swim, 5 x 200m pull buoy, 5 x 200m pull buoy/paddles. The lanes were a bit busy and I had to slow down on the some of the sets because of the traffic.

On Saturday I did my long ride of 165km. The weather forecast kept on changing and initially I was about to swap my ride to Sunday because of rain, so I wasn't prepared to ride that morning. Left the house 30 minutes later than usual as I needed to get the bike ready. Weather was mainly overcast and there was a brief period of drizzle but nothing too heavy. Legs felt much better than last week and I averaged just under 30kph for the ride. The 30 minute brick run wasn't too bad either, 6.6km in 4:31 per km pace.

Sunday's weather was hot and humid, and thunderstorms were forecasted later in the evening. I started my 2 hour at 4.30pm. I went pretty hard at first, probably too hard. Averaged under 4:30 per km for the first 75 minutes but had to slow down to about 4:45 per km after. Total distance covered was 26.2km with overall average pace of 4:34 per km.

So, somewhat lighter week this week with only one mid week ride and reduced duration for the long run. Next week will be a heavy one with the training camp in Niagara for the Civic Holiday long weekend.

Week 17 of 26 statistics:

Swim 10.4km (2 hours 56 minutes)
Bike 255.9km (8 hours 31 minutes)
Run 58.2km (4 hours 21 minutes)
Gym (0 hours 55 minutes)

Total 324.6km (16 hours 43 minutes)

Monday, 21 July 2014

Week 16 of 26

Pretty big week. Started of with 3.7km swim session on Monday afternoon. For some reason I didn't have good sleep the night before and felt groggy even up until the next evening. Main sets were 6 x 50m, 5 x 100m, 2 x 200m, 1 x 400m. And then, repeat with pull buoy.

Tuesday I did a 90km ride to Lakeside and back. The clouds were dark but it wasn't forecasted to rain. However, it showered for about 10 minutes about an hour into the ride. Left me shivering for a while but the sun came up soon after, drying me and my bike up, so I felt okay for the rest of the ride.

Wednesday was Splash N Dash at Lake Whittaker and most of the gang were back. So the competition was on! Did a 2 loop warm up swim. Stayed pretty close to the draft pack during the swim but my goggles kept leaking and I had to stop a few times to let the water out. Got out of transition ahead but Matt was breathing down my neck. He overtook me on the descend just after 1km into the run. Our gap remained relatively the same though. Overall time was 46:11 - my best time so far, 25:15 for the 1.6km swim and 20:56 for the 5km run.

Thursday I did the same ride as Tuesday. Only difference was there were sunny skies. Friday morning was a long swim session with 1000m swim (16:54), 2000m pull buoy (35:28), 800m pull buoy/paddles (13:01). In the evening I ran for 80 minutes in Springbank. My Garmin was almost empty, so I ran with it half way and turned it off and just used the clock to gauge the time back. Just a steady run with no intervals, a bit under 18km clocked.

Saturday it rained most of the day, so I swapped the long ride with Sunday's long run. I started the run at 5pm. I had 2 hours 30 minutes in the program. It continued to drizzle throughout, at some points a bit heavier but no downpour. My legs felt great since there was no long ride the day before and the rain kept me cool. Managed to clock 32.4km with an average pace of 4:37 per km.

So long ride on Sunday, 5 hours 30 minutes was in the program. I was a bit anxious as last week I felt empty and had to cut short my long ride. Plus, this week I had the fatigue and soreness of the long run the day before. Skies were overcast and the winds were pretty mild. My legs felt a bit sore but managed to keep the ride pretty consistent. 165km clocked with an average of 29.1kph. I then ran off the bike for 30 minutes, legs felt really heavy for the first couple of kms but got into rhythm after. This was after all, my first brick run after a 5+ hour ride this year. Managed to clock 6.2km with an average pace of 4:46 per km.

Glad I survived this week! Luckily, next week is somewhat lighter with only 1 mid week ride.

Week 15 of 26 statistics:

Swim 11.1km (3 hours 10 minutes)
Bike 346.6km (11 hours 33 minutes)
Run 61.6km (4 hours 41 minutes)

Total 419.3km (19 hours 24 minutes)

Monday, 14 July 2014

Week 15 of 26

So the first week of training post my half Iron triathlon last weekend. Wasn't sure how the body would hold but I took each session as they come.

Monday was a rest day which was very much needed. Tuesday evening I swam with some interval sets - 10 x 100m @ 1:40, 5 x 200m @ 3:20, 3 x 300m @ 5:00. Felt a bit out of breath but otherwise okay.

Wednesday was the Splash N Dash at Lake Whittaker. I arrived a bit late and could only do one loop of the swim course as warm-up, I usually do two. There weren't many people this week as most just raced the weekend before. I kept close to the front two girls and came out of transition only about 15 seconds behind the first girl. Once I overtook her on the run, I slowed down the pace. Overall time was 47:48 - 25:34 for the 1.6km swim and 22:14 for the 5km run. Not too bad, I guess.

I had only one mid week ride on Thursday with 90km to Lakeside and back. The winds were pretty mild.

Friday morning I swam with some long sets - 2000m swim (33:46) and 1500m pull buoy (26:48). In the afternoon I ran at Springbank for 1 hour 20 minutes and felt pretty good, just over 18km clocked.

Saturday was the long ride. The plan was to do 5.5 hours. But as I started the ride, I didn't feel too great. I started the ride to Thorndale and then turned around to head west and south towards Talbotville. Once I got to about the 80km mark, I decided it wasn't my day. My legs were pretty empty and I made the call to cut the ride short. I took a short cut and went through Sunset Drive all the way back to town. Traffic was pretty heavy and there were lots of traffic lights I had to stop at. Finally got home with 133km and about 8 minutes under 5 hours, a pretty slow ride indeed. But I didn't beat myself up too much about it, just have to let sessions like these pass and move on.

Sunday it rained a bit in the morning and I delayed my 2 hour 15 minutes long run until after watching the World Cup finals. Started running at 6pm and it was still quite sunny and warm. Legs felt good and was managing a decent pace of about 4:35 to 4:40 per km. Just before the 25km mark, my Garmin died - yes, I should have charged it before but I thought it would have lasted. Anyway, I had about 21 minutes left and I estimated a conservative 4:45 per km average for the remaining. So, just over 29km clocked.

Next week will be even bigger, both in mileage and time. Hopefully, the long ride incident is a once-off  and I'm more or less recovered from the half iron triathlon.

Week 15 of 26 statistics:

Swim - 9.9km (2 hours 51 minutes)
Bike - 223.8km (7 hours 47 minutes)
Run - 52.4km (3 hours 57 minutes)

Total - 286.1km (14 hours 35 minutes)

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Peterborough half Iron triathlon race report

If Ironman Malaysia was to be my final exam, this race is akin to a mid term test. We are spoilt for choices being in North America with plenty of races to choose from. I decided to go local this time, it was about 3.5 hours drive away. The race is also part of the Subaru Triathlon Series and entry fees were relatively cheaper at C$160 plus taxes. It has an undulating course and it sits right in the middle of my training built - perfect!

Pre race

Li-Ann had a conference in Toronto from Thursday, so I picked her up on the way from the nearest train station in Oshawa as I wasn't keen in driving into Toronto downtown. We missed the Highway 115 exit towards Peterborough - by about 40km! So we had to back track and added another 45 minutes to the journey. We made it just in time for race packet pick up before the 4.30pm close but there seem to be many still coming in to pick up theirs. Fairly low key with some local vendors. The organizers were great in keeping my goggles which I lost at Guelph triathlon two weeks ago. We briefly checked into our accommodation at Motel 6, which was less than 1km away from the race site in Beavermead Park. Then, we joined the rest of Team Sheri athletes for dinner at East Side Mario's for a bit of laugh and celebrate one of our team member's birthday.

It's not often I get such a low race number
Race morning

Up at 5.30am for the 8am race start. I didn't quite get a good night's sleep. The room next to us were pretty loud even past midnight. My left knee felt a bit uncomfortable and I had a slight limp as I walked. But I kept my thoughts positive. After breakfast, we took a stroll to the park. There was only 1 rack for my age group of 19 people and there were only about 250 entries for the half distance, and this includes triathlon, duathlon and relays. Pick up my timing chip and get number marked. My Garmin only lasts for 4+ hours in GPS mode, so I was only intending to use it for the run. I activated to signal then turned it off again so that it would be quicker to detect the signal again before I start the run. Just to be sure, I went to the toilet for the 3rd time that morning. Put wetsuit on, do a 5 minute warm up swim and soon it was time to go. But not before getting a few kisses from my wife!

Very grassy transition area
Ready to go!
 Swim 2km

The swim was a mass start with two lap rectangular course - anti clockwise direction and short 20-30m run in between laps. I felt I swam pretty well. There were so many people around me that I didn't need to sight throughout the outward direction. After the turnaround, I was veering outwards slightly and had to sight a bit to return in line. There were some sections where there were plenty of weeds, just have to remind myself not to freak out. I somehow had the urge to pee a few times and did so, just had to stop kicking a bit hahaha. My watch was in clock mode throughout and I did the first lap in 14-15 minutes. The second lap was less crowded and I swam closer on the return. Reached the beach in about 29+ minutes and after the 200m or so run up the grass, I crossed the first timing mat in 30:54.

Holding tightly to my goggles this time so that I won't lose it!
Transition 1

No dramas with getting the wetsuit off this time. The weekly practice in Splash N Dash certainly helped. Helmet went straight on without any issues too. I even left transition before a guy who came in before me, so a mini win for me! Just had to mindful not to run into trees as there were quite a few of them in the transition area. My clipped on bike shoes weren't quite in the position I wanted when I got the bike mount line. But no problem, just take a bit of care when mounting as to not fall over. And my right sock got stuck to the velcro on the shoe, which took me a while to remove. Time was 1:19.

Bike 90km

The bike course is a stretched out U shape, just one lap out and back. This was the older course as for the past few years, it was switched to a shorter 86km course due to construction. I prefer it at the full 90km so to make comparison with other half iron races more valid (yes, I'm picking knits that way!) There were some short steep hills, though not killer climbs but as there were plenty of them so it made gaining a momentum rather difficult at times. The elevation numbers on Mapmyride ranged from 300m to 600m, so it's hard to say how hilly it was.

At one point, some supporters were waving what looked like an Australian flag and I yelled Oz, Oz, Oz! Later however, I think it was actually a New Zealand flag - my Aussie permanent residency failed! On one of the downhills, I went low on my aerobars and as the speed increased, my bike wobbled so badly that I braced myself for I was sure I was going to fall! Luckily, as I sat up, it stabilized and stopped wobbling... phew! Not sure what caused it, maybe turbulence at the front end - not enough weight as I don't have an aerobottle set up and not enough weight on myself!

One of my better looking pictures in the aero position
The course wasn't closed to traffic at all but the police stopped traffic at the intersections. There was a guy a bit further in front of me who crashed. When I got to that intersection, he was at the side with many people crowding around. I wasn't sure whether to stopped or not, as I didn't know if I would be of any help. Shortly after I saw an ambulance coming from the opposite direction. Apparently, he hit a tractor. I hope he's okay. On the way back, this same intersection was poorly managed. Cars were stopped on one side of the road and we had to move to the opposite lane to overtake the cars.

A very Canadian way to pose
We enjoyed a tailwind on the way out but soon after the turnaround, it was pretty tough. The wind picked up too. Even in some of the downhill sections I didn't feel like I was going fast. With the cross wind in some sections, I had to stay off my aerobars just so I could steer properly. My hopes of clocking a 2 hours 35 minutes bike split have gone out of the window, but my position didn't change much. I finally got back to transition with 2:40:45 for the bike. Not great but okay, given the conditions. Cycling is still my weakest leg and will continue to be a work-in-progress.

Transition 2

I timed the dismount pretty nicely and didn't freewheel for too long this time. It was nice to know that there were only 3 bikes on the my age group rack when I got there. Had a visual of what needed to be done - shoes and sunglasses on, visor and belt on the go. Total time 43 seconds.

Run 21km

The first 3kms of the run were on grass, around the park. I pressed the GPS button on my Garmin just before I dismounted the bike, hoping that it would pick up the location as I left transition. But it took forever to detect the signal, so I gave up and switched it to stop watch mode instead. There were km markers every 1km so there wasn't an issue. Just had to press the lap button each time to give the splits.

I've got a love-hate relationship with helmet hair!
Once we left the park, the course is out-and-back, just 1 lap. It was pretty exposed but thankfully, there was plenty of cloud overcast in the sky. It was the same course as the first section of the bike course, so some short, steep climbs again. My legs felt good, the funny feeling in my left knee was totally gone. I was clocking between 4:15 to 4:40 per km, the range probably due to the hills or maybe less than accurate positioning of the markers. But I knew I was on target for a 4:30 per km overall average.

Everyone in the house, put your hands up, put your hands up!

Getting jiggy with it!
The overall race leader was coming back and I estimated he was about 6-7 kms ahead. Which would translate to about 4:45 finish time for me, assuming he would finish in 4:15. Like the bike course, as there were 250 participants on the course, it can get pretty lonely out there. But after the turnaround, I was beginning to reel in those further ahead of me. This gave me a bit of a boost and I find myself running faster.

Bringing minimizing foot landing to a whole new level
As I got the finishing gantry, Li-Ann was there cheering and so was Coach Sheri. I noticed I was a few seconds before the time turned to 4:45, so I gave a bit of a sprint and crossed the line in 4:44:54. My run split was 1:31:16 but I noticed my final km was almost a minute faster than the others, maybe it's shorter by 200m but maybe not, as it could have been made up in the earlier kms.

Final sprint to the finish
Just... under... 4:45!
Post race

We were served Erdinger alcohol free beer and I went straight for the massage while it was still relatively quiet. I was 3rd in my age group (benefits of doing a small race!), must have overtaken someone in the run. An improvement on my personal best by 6 minutes. And the overall winner finished in 4:13:25, not a bad guess on my part! Click here for full results.

The Team Sheri rainbow T-shirt sure is a head turner!
We left soon after prize giving as we're both back to work the next day. Team Sheri all did well with some great racing times. I'm really happy with own performance and glad that I'm heading in the right direction for Ironman Malaysia in another 12 weeks. The mega training blocks are coming soon...

Aah... not quite the right order of a triathlon but...
Bronze medal in addition to finisher's medal for 3rd in age group

Week 14 of 26

So a fairly light training week with the half Iron triathlon on Sunday in Peterborough.

Monday was a threshold swim set - main sets 10 x 100m swim, 5 x 200m swim, 10 x 100m pull buoy. Tuesday was a 75km ride with some pretty strong winds. I split my ride into both east and west so I get a bit of a balance of the headwind and tailwind. At one stage, the headwind was so strong that even cycling downhill felt slow!

Wednesday was Splash N Dash at Lake Whittaker. I swam the two loop course as a warm up. Small group today with plenty of racing going on and many who did the training camp in Niagara the weekend before. I managed to stay with the draft pack this time and came out quicker through transition. There was only 1 person ahead to catch on the run and managed to overtake after halfway. Overall time of 47:20 - the 1.6km was 25:28 and the 5km run was a cruisy 21:52.

Thursday was a 60km ride to Embro and back. Again pretty windy, but mostly from the side so didn't feel too assisted or hampered on either directions. Friday was one last run before the race - an hour in Springbank with 5 minute on, 5 minute off intervals. Felt great and was happy with the times I was clocking.

Full rest day and travelling to Peterborough on Saturday. Supposedly a 3.5 hour drive but I missed the exit by 40kms and had to back track, so an extra 45 minutes. Made it just in time for race pack pick-up before they closed. Sunday was the race and I had an awesome race result, if I say so myself. Just few seconds under 4 hours 45 minutes, which was my target. A 6 minute improvement on my personal best and 3rd in my age group! Race report to come...

Week 14 of 26 statistics:

Swim - 8.7km (2 hours 25 minutes)
Bike - 225.8km (7 hours 10 minutes)
Run - 39.8km (2 hours 53 minutes)

Total - 274.3km (12 hours 28 minutes)

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Race and recover right with the Compressport R2

I have mentioned earlier on Facebook and Twitter, but not on this blog, that I have just been selected to be part of the Compressport Malaysia team. They are my first official sponsors and I am truly humbled yet honoured to be given this opportunity. I'm nowhere near an elite athlete but I have been in this sport for quite a while and it's really rewarding to have something like this come by.

The first product that I used was the Calf Sleeves R2. R2 stands for Race & Recovery, meaning you can use them to race as well as to recover post race.
Picture taken from Compressport website
The R2 comes with technologies such as shock absorber and antifatigue, which absorbs the shock wave effect on muscles, veins and joints when you are pounding on the ground. Less vibrations means delayed muscle fatigue and hence, enhancing your race day performance. The aeroknitting and ultralight technologies also allow air to circulate freely and for quick drying - perfect for triathlons!

Inside out and outside in shown
It comes in a variety of colours and the pair that I had was bright yellow - so you can spot me from far in a race hahaha. One thing I especially like about these calf sleeves are the minimal stitching inside and thus, minimizing any chances of abrasion during a workout. Compared to another brand of calf sleeves that I used previously, the indentation from the stitching on my calves took a while to go away after wearing them for a short while. For the R2, the stitching at the top and bottom bands are very subtle as can be seen in the picture below.
Not much to be seen here
Like most Compressport products, the sizing for the calf sleeves are unisex, ranging from T1 to T4. So if you are like me - male and normally on the smaller end of the sizing scale, don't be surprised if you are now in the middle range of sizing for these. Mine are T2 in size. As these are meant to be tight, it can be a bit of a challenge putting them on. One trick is to roll them up at the bottom of your feet and gently slide them up your calves. If you are planning to wear them during a race in transition, practise a couple of times and it would soon be second nature. Do note also, as the calf sleeves are anatomically specific, the logos are meant to be worn on the sides.
Just like how you were taught to put on your socks when you were a kid

NOT the way the wear them. Logos are meant to be at the sides
Prior to this, I've not worn calf sleeves while racing. I took part in the Guelph Lake Olympic distance triathlon two weekends ago and I broke my number 1 rule of not trying anything new on race day. But the R2 were very comfortable and in fact, they helped prevented fatigue and cramps on a pretty challenging race course. Also, as it was a wetsuit legal swim race, the calf sleeves made it easier to put the wetsuit on.
Scoring a new PB over the Olympic distance too!
One thing to note for triathletes though, if your calves are getting number marked, let the ink dry a bit first before rolling the calf sleeves back on. I learnt it the hard way and these stains are still there! I would also recommend either hand washing the sleeves or if machine washed, placing them in a separate mesh bag to prolong their durability.
Hope they go away after a few washes
I also kept the calf sleeves on for the 2 hour drive home after the race and my legs felt great after. No delayed muscle soreness whatsoever. Overall, a great product and I'll be using them again in my half iron triathlon race this weekend. Thank you, Compressport Malaysia!

The Compressport Calf Sleeves R2 currently retails at Rm199 and is available at Athletes Circle Malaysia and Running Lab Malaysia.