Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Racing Naked: The Toronto Island Triathlon Race Report

This race is one of my favourite races in the Multisport Canada series.  The fact that it's local is a bonus.   Given the state of Toronto Island in the spring and early summer, I wasn't sure this race would even happen but as soon as the city announced that the Island was going to open, G and I signed up.

This course is flat and fast, which is why I love it.  You can really let it rip on the bike and the run.  Given my improvements on the bike over the last year, I was really looking forward to seeing what I was capable of on a nice flat course.

Having been to the Island the day before, I knew what ferry we'd need to take to get over in time for our wave starts.  For once I was actually leaving at a reasonable time compared to previous years.  And, surprisingly, Gary was starting AFTER me.  Knowing that we'd be heading out early, I packed up everything in my tri bag the night before.  I was pretty proud of myself for being super organized. I even made my one bottle up ahead of time.

Race morning we were up at 5:00 am so we could be out the door just before 6.  I got myself ready, did a bit of a warm up, ate breakfast, realized I forgot a few things, ran around and grabbed them and off we went a bit later than I had hoped.  We stopped at Tim Horton's for a coffee and headed down Jane Street to South Kingsway so we could get on the Gardiner.  I kept feeling like something was off.  A few seconds later I realized what it was and I let out a gasp.  "Shit, I forgot my Garmin".


G asked if I wanted to go back and get it and I said yes.  We had a whole debate about the time, and then me using his Suunto blah blah blah.  I realized that if we went back home to get it, then we'd probably miss the ferry which would make me VERY late which stressed me out even more than not having my Garmin.  Realistically, I don't look at my Garmin much when I am racing short course.  I look at it when I get out of the swim, when I get off the bike and then I check it while I'm on the run.  I don't use it for pacing at all.  It's a data collection tool, that's it.  So I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to be racing naked and that I'd only have the Sports Stats info, which isn't always the same but so be it.

We got to the ferry docks and picked up our kits, got body marked and got in line for the ferry.  The water looked much calmer than the day before which I was thankful for.  We got into transition with about an hour to spare before I had to start so I went about setting everything up.  This year we were starting by bib number, not by age group so I had no idea who I was racing against.

G and I did a short run and then I got suited up and made my way down to the beach to do a warm up.  The water looked wavy but not choppy.   I got in and ducked under.  I let the water seep into my wetsuit for a bit and then put my face in the water and started swimming out.  Right away I could tell the swim was going to be a bit of a challenge.  The swells were noticeable.  I knew that on the way out I'd have to breathe to the right to avoid getting smacked in the face by waves.  I figured the way back in would be fast as we'd have the waves pushing us back.  Given that I get motion sickness, I thought it would be a good idea to get my earplugs so I ran back to transition to grab them.  As I got back, the wave before me was being counted down.  I found G, gave him a good luck kiss and then I got in the water.

I looked around and saw a lot of dudes.  Not the normal situation for me at that race.  So, I stood off to the side and out of the pack.  The horn went off and I waded in a bit and then started swimming.  My plan to breathe to the right worked well for the first bit but then I started to struggle and started gasping.  I was breathing in water through my nose and I couldn't quite figure out what was going on and I started to get a bit panicky.  So I slowed my stroke down and focused on really exhaling in the water.  I eventually got into a good rhythm and whatever I was doing the cause the water up the nose seemed to stop.  The pack thinned out and I found myself side drafting off a guy, which was awesome but a little nerve wracking as well.  I don't really like to have people around me when I'm swimming  even though it's much less effort.  I managed to stay calm and stick with him for a bit but I eventually pulled away.  I made it around the first buoy without incident and immediately switched up my breathing to the other side as the waves were coming in on my right.  Just past the buoy I could feel my timing chip sliding down my leg so I stopped and pulled it up.  I stopped kicking for a bit in the hopes that it would stay put but that slowed me down a bit so I resumed.  I motored along to the next turnaround buoy and got around that with no issues.  I did swim slightly off course leading up to it but I caught that early and corrected my path.

Just after I got around the buoy, I could feel my timing chip coming loose again.  I stopped once again to pull it up.  I didn't want to undo it as I was in deep water and if I dropped it, that was it.  So I put my face back in and started swimming as hard as I could to get to shallower water.  This swim is a bit deceiving in that you get to a shallow area and you think you're almost done but it's really a sandbar and you still have a ways to go.  When I got to that part, I looked up to see how close to shore I was.  Nope.  Not time to stand just yet.  I put my head down and started pushing.  Eventually the water started to get more and more shallow.  When my hand scraped bottom, it was time for me to stand up.  I got up and started running.  At this point I'd normally look at my watch.  I hoped I had a decent swim.

I started hauling up the beach and on to the sandy path while pulling off the top of my wetsuit.  The run up to T1 is fairly long and part of it is on sand, then on a wooden boardwalk and the final stretch is on grass.  Once I got out of the sand, I really started moving.  Cap and goggles were off, ear plugs were out and I was ready to strip the rest of my suit off.  I got into T1, found my bike and yanked off my wetsuit.  It came off really easily which was a nice change.  I wiped off my feet, grabbed my helmet and race belt, put them on, yanked on my shoes, grabbed my bike and was off.

Swim including run up to T1:  15:13   T1:  1:23 - which has got to be one of my fastest T1's ever!

I knew that when I got out on the bike there would be a lot of ON YOUR LEFT.  That's usually the case at this race.  I could have paid an extra $5 and started earlier but I figured that might not give me that much of an advantage.  It wasn't terribly windy this year so I figured I'd get some good speed going.  My legs were screaming at me within the first 5 minutes of the ride.  I was giving it.  Ride like you don't have to run is what I like to say.  That's how you race a sprint.  That's how you test your limits.  I was riding so hard I had forgotten that I didn't have my Garmin and that I wouldn't be able to see any of this data on Strava or Garmin Connect.  Ha.  The course changed slightly from the last time I did it and the far turnaround was through a different driveway.  At least it seemed different than what I remembered.  There was a bit of congestion going through here and I slowed down a lot.  Eventually I got around some of the slower folks and started hammering again.  A girl had passed me just as we got out of the turn around and I was trying to catch her to see what AG she was in.  I couldn't see a number on her calf and didn't want to get any closer so I didn't violate the drafting rules.  We pulled up to the tight turnaround on the other side and I couldn't quite turn tight enough and ended up on the grass.  More speed lost.  Then as we made our way back, the girl in front of me turned off and I started to follow, for some reason thinking that was the way I had to go.  I then realized that was wrong and had to ride over the grass to get back on course.  MORE speed lost.  I was so mad at myself.  I've done this race 3 times, you'd think I'd remember.  Anger fuelled the next few km's of my ride and before I knew it, I was at the turn round.  This time it was much less crowded and I got through here pretty quickly.  My legs were hurting but I kept grinding.  I knew the run was going to suck but I hoped I'd be able to get into some sort of groove as I went along.

I came up to the final turn, got around that without too much difficulty and turned off towards the dismount line.  I rolled up, hopped of my bike and ran into T2.  I really need to learn how to do a flying dismount.  I think I lose a lot of time running in my cleats.  I racked my bike, took off my helmet and shoes and then almost fell over TWICE trying to put my running shoes on.  I was a little off my game.

Bike time:  33:20 for 19.1km.  Average speed 34.38/kph.   T2:  1:04 - I was very disappointed when I saw this bike split.  It was much slower than I had anticipated.  Previously I averaged over 35 kph on this course.  Had I not ridden into the grass or gotten slowed down in the first turn, maybe I would have been closer to that.  I gave it my all, and I guess that was all I had that day.  

I ran out of T2 and onto the grass and my legs immediately felt like garbage.  They didn't want to turn over at all.  Normally they hurt but they will at least move quickly.  Not today.  Not on the grass anyway.  Once I got out onto the pavement, my pace picked up substantially.  In previous years, I've always miscounted the laps but this year I vowed to get it right.  I started reeling people in.  Passing people is good motivation to keep pushing.  I'm not gonna lie, I was dying and my breath was coming in shallow gasps but I didn't want to let up.  I love this run course because you get to see people multiple times.  I saw Jana P killing it out on the course.  I saw my athlete Charlotte also killing it.  I saw Wibke L (aka Triwhippie on IG) and high fived her as we passed each other.  I also saw another one of my old athletes, Stacy, who was doing her first triathlon.  We had never actually met in person until AFTER the race that day!  We had spoken on the phone many times but never seen each other in person so that was fun.

They changed the course slightly compared to previous years.  Usually you'd run around a pylon, run up on the path a bit and then turn off after your 4th lap.  This year, you'd run around the pylon and then after your 4th lap you'd turn off right away.  This was a much less confusing set up and I managed to make it through the run without questioning what lap I was on.  Good thing because in previous years, G was usually done and cheering me on so he'd count my laps for me, ha ha.  I came around my fourth lap feeling like I was running well.  I made the turn onto the grass and barrelled towards the finish line.  I could see a couple of women ahead of me so I pushed the pace to catch them.  I crossed the finish line and was greeted by Nate, whom I had tag teamed with the day before in my stint as Race Director for the Women's Only tri.

I went and got something to drink and chatted with Jana for a while at the finish line.  I then went off to find G.  He started 10 minutes after me so I figured he'd be coming in soon.  I spotted him a few minutes later and we went off to get some food.  He told me he finished in 1:09 and change which is a huge PB for him on this course.  I had to wait until the results were posted to see where I ended up.  We sat down and ate and that's when Stacy came over to say hi.  We chatted for a bit and then she went off to find her friends.  I saw a bunch of people at the results wall so I went over to see if my time was up yet.  I scrolled down the rows and found my name, surprisingly not too far from the top.  I saw a 2 and and 1 and then looked further down the row to see 1:10:45.  A PB on this course for me!  It had my run time listed as 19:44 for 5.5km which I knew was completely impossible.  That would mean that I ran 3:35/km for 5.5km.  I have NEVER run a 3:35/km even for 1km let alone 5.5.  So the course had to be short.  G checked his watch and said that he ran 4.6km.  Our run times were 1 second apart.  He beat me by 1 second on the run!  So based on that, we both averaged 4:15/km for the 4.6km run.  Not bad.

I also got to see Charlotte finish and hung out with her for a bit post race.  She is HOOKED and I'm so glad that she enlisted me as her coach.  It's so nice to see other people enjoying the sport as much as I do.  If I can spread that joy and enthusiasm by helping someone prepare properly for a race, then that makes me one happy camper.

I ended up 2nd place female overall and 1st place in my AG.  G ended up 2nd place in his AG. That race is always a fun one and I will definitely be back next year, WITH my Garmin.

Thanks to John Salt and the entire Multisport Canada crew for putting on a top notch, well organized event, and to Zoomphoto.ca for the FREE race pics.

Overall podium

Age group podium
We've got one more race left this year (oh yeah, Lake Placid 70.3) and then it's time to chill for a bit before cyclocross season starts.  The fall is going to be filled with all sorts of adventures of the OFF ROAD kind so watch this space.

Have you ever raced without a watch?  How did that affect your race?  Did you go harder or easier than you would have if you had worn your watch?

Monday, August 28, 2017

Monday Musings: Two Weeks to Go

How-day peeps!

What a crazy week this has been!  Definitely not the week I had hoped for in terms of training but sometimes training has to take a back seat to other things.   Things like hanging out with friends!  That's one thing I promised myself I'd be more flexible with this year.  Over the years, we let training consume our spare time to the extent that we'd take a pass on some things.  We'd hardly ever go out during the week!  Thankfully that has changed, mostly due to the fact that both of us work from home and have flexible schedules so we try to take full advantage of that now.  On Monday night we went to the CNE to see a concert with a couple of friends of ours.  I can't remember the last time I went to the CNE but suffice to say it hasn't changed much.  We went to see The Box, a French band from Montreal that were popular in the 80's.  Gary loves them.  We actually met the lead singer last year when we were in Mont Tremblant.  He's also a painter and he owns / runs two galleries in Tremblant.  We didn't realize he was the lead singer of the Box until we got home and read the pamphlet he gave us.  When we were back in Tremblant this year, we saw him again at the other gallery in the old village and he remembered us from last year.  We chatted with him about the band and he told us they were coming to Toronto.  So, that's what we did on Monday night.  Of course we had a few adult beverages and didn't get home until around 10:30.  

I spent Monday morning visiting with a friend and hanging out with her and her kids.  On Wednesday I had coffee with another friend / client of mine.  Friday afternoon I went by Westside to have lunch with Caitlin before she's off on maternity leave.  I ended up hanging around there for the rest of the afternoon.  Friday night we went to dinner with some other friends and stayed out until 1:00 am.  And drank a LOT of wine.  Yesterday we went to a BBQ to celebrate another friends first Ironman finish.  It was a whirlwind week but it was such a nice balance of fun and hard work.  It resulted in two big naps, one on Saturday afternoon and another on Sunday afternoon.  That's when you know it's been a big week, ha ha.  Seriously though, this was just the kind of week I needed.  I still managed a solid week of training but it was tempered with a lot of fun and now I'm ready to start my taper.  

I've still got a race report to get to so I'll keep this short.  This was my last big week of training.  This past month was essentially like cramming for an exam.  July was a bit of a write off in between a nagging glut / hamstring issue, bad weather and a sinus infection there wasn't much in the way of long rides or runs.  So August has been the month of work.  My body is starting to feel it so I'm glad things are winding down.  Let's get down to the last big week of fun, shall we?

Monday:  OFF

Tuesday:  21.3km run in the a.m.  20km ride with the TTC crew in the p.m.

Wednesday:  2700m swim in the a.m.

Thursday:  9.6km run followed by 20 minutes of strength work in the a.m.  I was going to ride with Morning Glory but my legs were still sore and tired from Tuesday's run so I skipped my ride.

Friday:  2000m swim followed by a 28km ride.

Saturday:  69.4 km easy ride with G

Sunday:  92km ride with one of the ladies from the Lake Placid Camp followed by a 5km shuffle fest off the bike.


Swim:  4700m
Bike:  210km
Run:  36km

Total time:  12h 57 minutes.  

Now, I just need to take care of my body, rest up, eat well and get some solid sleep over the next couple of weeks and I'll be good to go!

Congrats to everyone that raced this weekend, especially two of my athletes Courtney and Shelly.  Courtney did her first Olympic distance tri and Shelly crushed her goal time at the Toronto Women's 10km.  

Here's to another fantastic week, and finding the patience to wait another YEAR to find out what happens on Game of Thrones!  AGH!

What did you think of last night's season finale?  Who else raced this weekend?

Time to go get after it!

~ Coach PK

Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday Musings: Stepping outside my comfort zone

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, well this one pretty much sums up my week.   This week wasn't about any hard, gut busting workouts (there were a couple of those).  Nope, this week was about me stepping outside my comfort zone personally.  

Most of you that know me personally, probably see this fairly talkative, bubbly person that seems to have no problem when it comes to talking to groups of people.   You couldn't be more wrong.  I am petrified of speaking in front of crowds.  When we had to do speeches in grade school, I could write something witty and funny but the minute I had to get up and read or talk, I felt extreme panic and would fumble my words.  I had no choice in grade school, it was part of your marks, but moving forward in life, I always liked to keep to myself in groups.  Even in my old career, I would get sweaty palms and butterflies in my stomach when we had conference calls or pre-pro meetings that I had to speak at.  

When it comes to one on one work, I'm good.  That's my wheelhouse.  I feel I make great connections with people when it's one on one.  As a coach that's important.  But, not all coaching is one on one.  This year I told myself I was going to step outside my comfort zone and put myself out there.  The first time I did that was when I overheard two women chatting about training for a triathlon in the change room of my old gym.  I asked the one girl what she was training for and we started a whole conversation that ended with me telling her I was a coach and giving her my contact info.  (Hi Trish!!)  My next "outing" was joining the Toronto Triathlon club as a coach to lead the West end ride group.  That first night was so scary for me and I was so glad to have Eric with me.  Leading that ride on Tuesday nights has been one of the most rewarding things I've done.  It's challenged me to be creative and adaptable.  And it's helped to somewhat alleviate my fear of speaking to groups in public.  

The scariest, yet most rewarding moment for me came this past weekend.  Thanks to Miranda, a friend and fellow coach, I was approached by John Salt from Multisport Canada to be the honorary Race Director for the Toronto Island Women's Only Triathlon this past Saturday.  It was an opportunity for me to give back to the community and to put myself out there.  I was so nervous, I hardly slept the night before.   People kept telling me I'd be great but I didn't believe it.  Once I got down there and started working with John and company, the fear started to dissipate.  I got to work the finish line of the race and honestly, that was probably one of the most satisfying experiences I've ever had.  I was hoarse by the end of the morning.  John was great about the whole thing, he said if I wasn't comfortable talking in front of people just to let him know.  I said I would say something.  I had to, I couldn't bail.  Time to step out of my comfort zone.  Steve Fleck introduced me and handed me the mic and I said a few words and handed the mic back to John.  The hand off was a little awkward but a few people that I knew that were down there said I was great.  It was a big victory for me and kinda has me thinking that perhaps I should take some kind of public speaking class.  One more thing to add to my list of things to do, ha ha.

The other big thing I did this past week was take my new bike out for a spin.  G was only too happy to go for a rip with me on the grass and single track trails around the Humber path.  I went whipping around things that only a year ago I wouldn't have ever even thought of attempting.  The new steed, officially called Roll The Bones,  is amazing.  I am really looking forward to taking some CX classes in the fall.   Bring on the mud, grass and barriers!

There are a couple of other crazy things that I've got lined up that are going to take me WAY outside my comfort zone.  One of them is still in the works but the other is a done deal.  G and I along with 4 of our friends, have signed up to do Hawaii 70.3.  It's our friend Rick's 50th birthday next year and this is how he wanted to celebrate.  Soooo, we're off to Hawaii for two weeks next year.  This means I really need to get over my fear of swimming in the ocean.  I am freaking petrified.  Mostly because of the unpredictability of the water and the potential for swells.  I get motion sickness so I am very worried about NOT being able to get through the swim.  Good thing we're going back to Florida in February - I've told G we need to go swim in the ocean to practice.  Even if I do it a couple of times that's better than nothing!  

Like I said, this week was a big one in terms of stepping outside my comfort zone!  Training wise this week, things got shuffled around or missed completely so I could take advantage of the opportunity to be a race director.  I didn't do a long ride, nor did I do a long run.  But that's ok.  This week is my last big week of training before I start to taper for Placid and it's going to be a good one for sure! But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let's look at how this week rolled out...

Monday: OFF  

Tuesday:  7km run with my pal David, followed by a short 20 minute weight workout in the a.m.  TTC hill ride in the p.m.

Wednesday:  2600m swim

Thursday:  Awesome 30km ride around Ellis with Morning Glory in the a.m., followed by a 9km run with David.  

Friday:  25km ride on the cross bike.

Saturday:  OFF.  Meant to do my long run but was exhausted when I got back from RD duties.

Sunday:  Toronto Island Sprint.  Raced NAKED (ie no garmin).  750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run.  Although according to sports stats the distances are VERY different.  There will hopefully be a race report this week.  Suffice to say a fun time was had!

I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend.  Congrats to all the folks that raced this weekend and a huge shout out to all those that finished Ironman Mont Tremblant yesterday.  Enjoy your well deserved rest!

Happy Monday!

~ Coach PK

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Like a Fine Wine, Better with Age: Bracebridge Sprint Race Report

Given that I hadn't raced a sprint in 2 years, I had no real goals going into this race other than I wanted to have a faster bike split that my previous 2 years.  I have put a lot of time and effort into my cycling over the last year so I expected to see some kind of improvement.   Other than that I figured my swim probably wouldn't change too much and my run, well who knew.  I knew it wouldn't be as fast as previous years because I haven't been running that fast.  So this was a test to see what I *could* do.

The last time we did this race, we drove up the morning of the race.  This year the start time seemed to be much earlier than previously so we opted to drive up to Gravenhurst the day before and stay the night.  We stayed at the Residence Inn right on the water.   We wandered around downtown Gravenhurst and stopped for a drink at Sawdust City Brewery where I had a most delicious Raspberry Radler.  We made our way back to the hotel and went to grab some dinner.  It had gone from a nice sunny day to overcast and cloudy.   The forecast was calling for a thunderstorm and this time the weatherman got it right.  After dinner grabbed an ice cream and watched the storm roll in.

G watched some TV and I actually sat down and finished a book I'd been reading since MARCH.  We were both in bed asleep just before 10 am.  We were up at 5:15 so we could pack up and hit the road by 6 am.  We stopped at Tim Horton's for a coffee and some carbs and made the 20 minute drive to Annie Williams Park in Bracebridge.

The last time we did this race everyone seemed to show up at the same time so registration got so backed up they had to start the race later.  This year was much better.  We were also there fairly early as well.  We get set up in transition, picked up our kits and got body marked. I ran into two of the women from the Lake Placid Cycling Camp, Carolan and Jennifer.  It was Jennifer's first multi sport event - she was doing the swim bike.  I chatted with them for a while and then went back into transition to finish setting up.  G came over and told me that he saw Paolina and that she was racing.  I started laughing and knew that there was going to be at least one person in my AG that was going to crush me.  I saw her setting up and ran over to her and gave her a big hug.  She asked me what AG I was in and I said hers and she said Oh great.  "Like you have anything to worry about" I said.  It was so nice to see her.  She has such great energy.

She was running late setting up so G and I went into the water and started our warm up.  I did a bit of swimming but felt pretty good as I had done a bit of a dynamic warm up on shore (I am learning this is a good thing for me!).  I did a few pick ups in the water and then found G.  Once we stopped, I quickly realized that this swim was going to be difficult.  It had POURED the night before so the river was high.  This meant that there was a very strong current.  So strong that if you stopped swimming, it would push you down river at a substantial clip.  Fun!  Well, it would have been fun if I had been on a floaty with a beer.  But, I had to swim back into that current.  Oh well.  Nothing you can do about that except moderate your pace accordingly.

Because the swim takes place in a very narrow river, it's a time trial start, which I love.  Even then, it still gets pretty congested and today was no different.   I got in line with the rest of the folks in my age group and waited to for my turn to go.  3-2-1 and I was off.  The first half of the swim flew by, literally, because we were swimming down stream.  I practiced my new stroke / breathing technique and managed to swim relatively straight.  Sweet!  I got into a pretty good groove once I passed a few people.  So much so that I actually managed to pass the first turnaround buoy.  I remember seeing it but I guess because the current was so strong, I overestimated how far it was.  So I had to swim an a nice diagonal to try to get to the other buoy to swim back.

Once I got to the buoy it was like a traffic jam there were so many people.  I swam through a small pack and tried to stick closer to shore where you are less likely to be affected by the current. Swimming back was much more congested than the way out.  Probably due to the current.  I passed a lot of people and I felt like I was actually swimming fairly well.  I'm pretty sure I saw Paolina pass me with about 150m or so to go.  That totally didn't surprise me.  She is a strong swimmer.  Actually she's just strong, period, ha ha.

I finally turned around the last buoy and swam hard to the shore.  I ran up onto the beach and glanced at my watch:  14:53.  W.T.F.  My worst swim at this event.  I ran into T1 and thought I hit lap.  I pulled off my wetsuit, wiped off my feet, threw on my shoes, race bib and helmet.  I grabbed my bike and was off.   As I was running out of transition I realized that I had actually hit STOP on my watch.  So I hit resume, ran out of transition to the mount line on the bike and hit lap again.  One day I will get this right.  Ugh.  I had no clue how long T1 was but it seemed fast.

Sports stats times:  Swim:  15:18 (2:02/100m) and T1:  1:35, which isn't too bad for me!

I recall the bike being somewhat hilly but couldn't really remember much other than two good climbs.  Well, I was wrong.  It's very hilly.  There are two good climbs but there are a bunch of unpleasant rollers as well.  I went out hard, big chain ring, head down, hammering.  There was a fair bit of "on your left"for the first bit but then things spread out nicely.  I was so focused on the hurt I was feeling and the people in front of me that I didn't pay attention to the people coming back so I had no idea where I was in relation to Paolina.   I was riding hard.  My legs were screaming at me like they haven't screamed at me in a while.  I was actually dreading the run because I knew my legs were going to feel like garbage.  I passed a couple of ladies on the ride, but mostly guys that had started earlier.  I got passed by a couple of other dudes but no women.  Whew.  I knew G wasn't too far behind me so once I hit the turnaround, I kept my eyes peeled for him.  It didn't take me too long to see him.   He was about 3 minutes behind me which I figured he'd make up no problem so I was riding scared for sure.  I didn't want him to catch me.   I kept my head down and hammered away.  The next thing I knew I was turning back into the park.  I rolled up to the dismount line and jumped off my bike.  I really need to learn how to do a flying dismount because running in my cycling shoes is annoying and slow.  Things to work on for next year!

Garmin time:  20km:  36:31 / average speed 33.6 kph.  Sports stats:  36:48 / 32.6 kph.  Not sure how I lost a whole km per hour but whatever.  This was officially my fastest time on this course.  :)  What I was even more thrilled with / surprised by was the fact that my normalized power for the 20km was 215 watts and my watts per kg (W/kg) was 3.53!  Woohoo!

I ran into T2, racked my bike and pulled off my helmet and shoes.  I wiped my feet again and yanked on my running shoes.

T2:  53s - not bad, probably one of my faster T2's.

The run starts with an uphill and normally I will plow up this hill but I just don't have that speed right now.  So I ran up it but not all out.  As we exited the park there was a huge puddle and a lot of mud so I slowed down through there so I wouldn't slip.  Once I was through there, I got into a good rhythm and started passing people.  My legs actually didn't feel too bad.  The first km passed in 4:36.  For the first time ever, I didn't go out like gangbusters in the first km.  I was actually able to start picking things up and I felt stronger as the run went on.  I kept my eyes peeled for Paolina as I was running towards the turnaround.  I saw her when I was probably a good 600-700m away from the turnaround.  She was making her way back.  I yelled WOOHOO and she waved.  She had at least 1km on me, probably more.  I passed a couple of other ladies on the way back in but none of them were in my AG.  I was hoping that put me in second at least.

I made the turn into the park and ran down the big hill to the finish.  I'm always thankful that downhill is on grass because if that was pavement, it would be brutal on your quads, ha ha.

Me and my wonky arms! 

I crossed the line and hit stop on my Garmin.  I wandered back around and waited for G.  He wasn't that far behind me.   I was chatting with a couple of ladies at the finish when he crossed the line and came over to me.  We commiserated about our horrible swims and then went over to get some food.  I ran into Paolina and we sat there talking for ages.  I then ran into Meg, a physiotherapist that I used to see at Synergy.  I hadn't seen her in years so it was really nice to catch up with her.

G and I finally wandered over and got some food and then we sat down and looked at our respective times.  My Garmin said 1:15 and change which was wrong because I had stopped it in transition.  I skipped through everything to see what my run time was and it was 22:05.  Gary wasn't that far behind me.  We grabbed some food and then it started to pour so ran for shelter.  The rain let up shortly thereafter and G said he was going to get his stuff from transition.  I finished eating and went to look at results.  My overall time was 1:16:39 and I was second my AG and 3rd overall.  It wasn't my fastest time there but it wasn't my slowest either.  Paolina was 6 minutes ahead of me.  She was the women's overall winner which is totally not surprising.  She's such a strong athlete!  I looked below my name and who so I see, but G, listed right after me.  I beat him by 7 seconds.  W.T.H.  I didn't think that was going to happen.

We stuck around for the awards since G got on the podium as well.  When I checked the results afterwards, I noticed that 4 of the top 5 women on the overall podium were over 40.  OVER 40.  Heck YEAH.  Proof right there that like a fine wine, us ladies get better with age!

It's nice to see some new sponsors at the MSC races, F2C nutrition and Martin's Apple Snacks.  I sampled some F2C recovery product as well as their greens product and I quite liked both of them.  the greens product was especially good, no chalky or gritty taste and the flavour was really nice.  I need to get more greens in my life so that may be something I look an incorporating into my diet.

As usual the race was very well organized, the volunteers were awesome and the free finishing photos are always appreciated!   Next up, my favourite race of the series - Toronto Island.  Here's hoping there's no wind and the water isn't too cold!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday Musings: A new addition

Howdy Folks!

This past weekend was a BIG weekend of racing.  There was SeaWheeze in Vancouver, Steelhead 70.3 in Michigan, MSC Bracebridge Race weekend and Iron Girl to name a few.  I had a couple of athletes racing (SeaWheeze & the ENDURun Half marathon) and Gary and I also raced (recap to come this week!).    Hard to believe that there's only a few weeks left of the summer racing!  We've got yet another race on tap this weekend at Toronto Island.  And, there's less than 4 weeks until Lake Placid 70.3!

We had a pretty action packed weekend but that's what usually happens when we race.   We opted to drive out to Gravenhurst the day before and stay the night so we didn't have to get up at 4:00 am to drive out that morning.  After the race, we headed back home to Toronto.  By the time we got back, unpacked the car and showered, it was close to 4:00pm.   So much for Saturday!  Although I did still have enough time to get a bit of "shopping" in.

If you follow my IG stories, you will have seen a bit of video from my local bike shop, Wheels of Bloor.  I love those guys.   They have the best selection of bikes and they are the biggest Cervelo dealer in Canada.  Gary and I have bought all of our bikes from them.  The crew they have working there now are such a great bunch of guys.  Knowledgeable AND personable which is huge when it comes to bike shops.  I find that some shops are very knowledgeable but not always personable.  Anyway....that's my little shout out to the WOB guys.

You probably see where this is going right?

You don't?  Well, let me clear it up for you.  We added another "member" to our "family".  Yup,  I bought a new bike.   How many bikes does one need?  The right answer is N+1, ha ha.  That now makes 8 bikes between G and I.  I never thought I'd see the day that happened.   I have a road bike, a tri bike and a mountain bike and now I have a cyclocross bike.  By mid summer, I'm usually planning for the off season, and this year I wanted to try some cyclocross racing.  Now that my bike handling skills have improved, I think I'm ready to try a race or two.

Here he is.  It's a Felt F65x with a matte black frame with red, grey and white accents.  Dead.  Sexy.

He also needs a name.  In keeping with my current tradition of naming all my bikes after Rush songs, I have a couple of names in mind.  G thinks I should call him By-Tor since my road bike is named Snow Dog (as per the song By-Tor and the Snow Dog).  I kinda like Xanadu, but perhaps that's a bit too feminine.  I also like Roll the Bones and One Little Victory.  Granted I will probably never ride this to One Little Victory but I still like the name, ha ha.

So that's the latest addition.  I may try to take it out for a spin in the park this week just to get used to how it handles but the real adventures will have to wait until post 70.3 just to be safe.

Speaking of Lake Placid, this was supposed to be a bit of a scale back week for me given that I was racing on Saturday and for the most part, it was just that.  I kept the intensity and volume low all week, knowing what I was in for on Saturday.  Saturday hurt like hell and I thought for sure I'd be in rough shape on Sunday but I actually felt alright and I got the all clear from my HRV app to do some intense training if I wanted to.  My original plan was to ride 3.5 hours and run 50 minutes.  The 3.5 hour ride turned into a 4 hour and 20 minute ride, followed by a 1 hour run.  The ride was tough.  We climbed almost 950m according to G's Suunto (which I trust more for correct elevation vs my Garmin) and I was riding my TT bike instead of my road bike.  Needless to say, I'm feeling much better about my climbing on my TT bike, ha ha.  The run off the bike didn't happen right off the bike, more like 25 minutes off the bike but my legs were still heavy from the ride and it took me a while to find my stride but once I did I chugged along nicely.  That was the big workout of the week so let's look at the rest of my week.

Monday:  OFF

Tuesday:   26km with the TTC Crew and a 25 minute weight workout

Wednesday:  2450m swim

Thursday:  8km run in the a.m and 28km interval ride around Matheson, 15 minute weight workout.

Friday:  OFF - drive up to Gravenhurst, have a beer, dinner, ice cream, watch a huge thunderstorm, go to bed by 9:30 pm.  Oh the exciting life of a triathlete.

Saturday:  RACE DAY!  750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run.

Sunday:  119.2km ride, followed by an 11.4km run.


Swim:  3254 m
Bike:  195 km
Run:  24.5 km

Total time:  10h 43 minutes

Still a big week but definitely scaled back from my previous week.   I had another big week mapped out but there may have to be some shuffling that takes place due to a very unique opportunity.  That's all Imma gonna say about that for now.  :)

Congrats to everyone who raced this weekend!

Does your bike have a name?  What do you think I should name my new steed?

~ Coach PK 

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Importance of Having a Health Care Team

Many of the athletes I coach are fairly new to running and triathlon so when things start to hurt and muscles start to get tight, they often ask me what I recommend.  Depending on what the issue is, my answer varies.  Over the years, I have assembled a team of people that I trust with my athletic health.   There are so many different types of therapies out there it's hard to know where to start so I'm going to break it down for you.

I'm going to classify things in terms of injury prevention and injury rehabilitation, mostly according to how I've ended up at each practitioner.  There is definitely overlap with all of these therapists as many of them can help in the healing of an injury as well as the prevention of an injury.


My go to for any sort of muscle (soft tissue) related aches, pains and tightness would be my RMT (Registered Massage Therapist).   If you're going to have ONE person in your health care arsenal, I'd recommend it be an RMT.

For other muscle and joint related issues, I go to a chiropractor.  Chiros get a bad rap a lot of the time which is unfortunate.  My chiropractor also does A.R.T (active release technique) and acupuncture so that is what I go and see him for 95% of the time.  On occasion I have some low back / S.I. joint issues so he will do the odd adjustment or joint mobilization work.

Another excellent practitioner to have on your health care team is an osteopath.  I like to think of osteopathy as a combination of massage and chiropractic treatment.  Osteopathy, according to Wikipedia is a "therapy that emphasizes massage and other physical manipulation of muscle and tissue and bones."  I've used osteopathy for low back and SI joint pain with a great deal of success.


Physiotherapists are the folks that 99.9% of injured athletes end up seeing.  A physiotherapist will help rehab your injury by having you work at building strength back up progressively and safely,  They will also help correct the imbalances or weaknesses that caused the injury in the first place.  That's why they have you do all those exercises.  That's why those exercises should ALWAYS be a part of your fitness / strength routine.  Your body will eventually revert back to the path of least resistance once you stop.

A good sports medicine doctor is also a very important person to have on your health care team.  If they're really good, they can get you slightly faster access to imaging.  Sometimes they offer alternative treatments like PRP injections, cortisone injections etc.   Unfortunately you usually have to wait anywhere from a couple of weeks to sometimes a couple of months to get an appointment, depending on the doctor.  A sports medicine doctor will also be able to refer you to a surgeon or other specialist if required.

An RMT for massage, a chiropractor for A.R.T and acupuncture and a physiotherapist for when everything goes to hell in a hand basket.

But where do you find these people?

Word of mouth.  Ask your coach, or other athletes who they would recommend.  I'm in the west end of the city so if I know my athlete is west end or willing to travel a bit, I'll always recommend someone on my healthcare team.

If you don't know any other athletes, do a google search and read reviews.  I feel it's important that you see someone at a sports medicine clinic as they are usually much more attuned to the needs of an athlete.  In an ideal world, your practitioner is an athlete as well.

I've seen a lot of therapists over the years.  Sometimes it can take a while to build a network of people that you trust with your health.  Right now I think I have a pretty solid team of people that help keep me healthy.   These are the folks that help keep me healthy.

David Lamy, RMT at Synergy Sports Medicine
Peter Lejkowski, Chiropractor / ART / Acupuncture at Pivot Sports Medicine
Lauren Roberts at The Running Physio

Other folks that I'd also recommend:

Kris Sheppard, Chiropractor at The Runners Academy 
Mark Casmiri, RMT at Pivot Sports Medicine
Miranda Tomenson, RMT at Swansea Massage Clinic
Xsenia D'Abramo, Physiotherapist & NKT practitioner at Annex RMT

Having a group of therapists that know you, your sport and your body is so important to staying healthy and to addressing and treating injuries when they come up.

Do you have a group of people that you trust?  

~ Coach PK

Monday, August 7, 2017

Monday Musings: The Holiday Monday Edition

Happy Holiday Mondayyyyyy!

Well we are officially one week into August and I am coming off my biggest week of training since the Lake Placid training camp back in May.   I actually feel pretty good today other than some stiffness in my legs and a tiny headache.  I'm chalking up the headache to the pint of beer and two glasses of wine I had last night, ha ha.

Remember last week when I said that G and I would probably save our short course racing until next year.  Well......that has changed.  We've signed up for two back to back sprint races.  We're doing Bracebridge sprint on Aug 13 and then my favourite, the Toronto Island Tri on August 20th.  We weren't sure the Toronto Island race was going to happen due to all the flooding on the island but they reopened the Island last Monday so the race is a go!  I haven't raced a sprint since 2015 so I'm bracing myself for the hurt.  I suspect I'll be taking a couple of days off afterwards because I'm just not used to racing at that high intensity.  Actually let me rephrase that.  I'm not used to RUNNING that hard these days.  Should be interesting to see what I can manage off the bike.

Looking through my training log, I've definitely put in 3 solid weeks of training.  That being said, I have yet to ride more than 83km on a long ride, ha ha.  I've spent a fair bit of time on my bike, just shorter rides.  I've also made a concerted effort to get into the pool and open water more.  I've been working on my stroke in the pool and I'm seeing a bit more speed but I'm still not catching the water well when my hands enter the water.  I swim much better with paddles but obviously I can't race with those so I have to keep working at it.  That will be my focus for the off season for sure.

This week is a recovery week for me so that means dialling back my volume and a bit of my usual intensity.  We are racing at the end of the week so will be a speed workout.   I'm starting to add a bit of more targeted run speed work back into my training.  My glut and hamstring have been feeling better, still not 100% but definitely better so I'm testing out my legs with a little bit of faster running.  Nothing too crazy but enough that I am getting a bit of harder workout in.  Adding this extra intensity would probably explain why I was so tired on Saturday.   So much so that I gave up on my workout.  Shit happens.  If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's when I need to listen to my body and pull the pin on a workout.

With that, let's look at my big fat week of training....

Monday:  OFF

Tuesday:  Double ride day:  30km with MGCC in the a.m. and 18km with my TTC group in the p.m.

Wednesday:  2150m swim in the a.m.  9km run with 3x1km repeats at 4:20/km followed by a 30 minute weight workout.

workout = CRUSHED
Thursday:  45.9km ride with Morning Glory.

Friday:  2600m swim, followed by a 25 minute weight workout and then a 2.5km run to test out my race day shoes sock less.

Saturday:  1263m swim at the Quarry followed by a 28km ride in the howling wind.  That was enough.  I was exhausted.   I went to bed just before 9pm that night and slept until 5:30 am the next day.  I woke up rested and ready to tackle a very big day.

Sunday:  83km easy ride with Morning Glory followed by a 17.5km run.  The ride was easy (avg hr was 110 BPM, Garmin T.E was 1.6).  The run was good until about 13km and then my legs were tired.  But that's exactly the kind of workout I needed.   I found that in Tremblant my legs started to fatigue by the 14km mark so I wanted to make sure I got some longer runs done off the bike.


Swim:  6013m
Bike:  206km
Run:  29.06km

Total time:  13h 8 minutes.  Yowza!

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday Monday, despite the crappy weather!   I'm going to spend the rest of my day off getting some baking and meal prep done.  Enjoy whatever you get up to today!

~  Coach PK 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Vo2 Max Test vs. My Garmin 920xt Predicted Vo2 Max

Heart rate monitors have come a long way since they first arrived on the scene back in the 80's.  I didn't start training with one until 2002 when I decided to do my first marathon.  At the time they were super basic.  You got time, distance and your average and max heart rate.  There was no GPS capability until Garmin released the Forerunner series in 2003.  Now, the variety of watches and features is incredible.  One thing I have noticed is that the heart rate monitor strap has become an option in many of these packages.  An option???  If you're going to spend upwards of $500 on a fancy watch, why not make sure you have all the bits and pieces so you can take advantage of all the features?   Ok, mini rant over.

One of the features that Garmin came out with years ago when they introduced the Garmin 920xt and the Garmin Fenix 2, was an estimated Vo2 max feature.  I thought this was a pretty cool feature and often wondered how accurate it was.  

What is Vo2 max and why is it important?  Vo2 max "is the maximum rate of oxygen consumption as measured during incremental exercise, most typically on a motorized treadmill.  Maximal oxygen consumption reflects the aerobic physical fitness of the individual and is an important determinant of their endurance capacity during prolonged sub-maximal exercise" (Wikipedia).

So, the higher your Vo2 max, the fitter and potentially faster you are.  I say potentially because a few things can come into play that can affect your speed:  1) running form and your physical limitations and 2) your mind / tolerance for pain.  There have been several studies over the last few years that essentially say that our brain dictates our effort and will cause you to ease up even when you have a bit more in the tank.  Knowing that, you really need to give it 110% during one of these tests. 

Based on the Vo2 max determined by my Garmin and the predicted race times associated with it I should be able to run an 18 minute 5km, a 39 minute 10km, a 1:25 half and a 3:03 marathon.  If I look at my PRs for all those distances, I'm at 20 minutes for a 5km, 39:40 for a 10km, 1:27 for a half and a whopping 3:16 for a full.  The only one even remotely close was my 10km time at 39:39.  I like to think I know how to suffer so I don't think I can chalk it up to my brain (but who knows).  The only thing left is running form / physical limitations.  My running form is not ideal so I'm sure I'm losing a fair bit of time because of that.  Or, Garmin is grossly overestimating my abilities (which is also possible).

At the end of July, I had the opportunity to do a Vo2 max test.  Surprisingly it was the first time I've ever had this test done.  I've had lactate threshold tests and lactate balance point tests done but never a Vo2 max test so I was curious to see how my Garmin info would stack up to the test results and to see where my fitness would rank in terms of my age group.

The test is usually done on a treadmill and you have to either wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth or, breathe through a tube with your nose plugged.  It's kind of like breathing through a snorkel.  It's not natural and it can feel quite claustrophobic.  I had a few moments of panic at the start but once I got my breathing regulated I was fine.  The test is a graded test so you go through various stages of exertion.  I started by sitting on a stool on the treadmill with the "mask" on.  Then I started walking for 5 minutes to warm up.  After the warm up the testers set the treadmill to roughly my 10km pace and I started running.  They said they were going to increase the grade 1% every minute.  I settled into a good pace and before I knew it, they were increasing the grade again.  One of the testers asked me about the speed so I told her she could up it a little bit.  So they increased the treadmill speed a bit.  I kept going and they increased the grade again.  And then again.  Each time they increased the grade, I had to point to a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) on a chart.  The grade was increased again.  My breathing was becoming more laboured.  I was definitely starting to work harder.  The grade was increased again and then again.  I had to signal when I thought I had one minute left.  I was really starting to labour.  The testers were both women and they were awesome at encouraging me to keep going. They increased the grade again.  That increase was it.  I signalled I had one minute left and fought with everything to keep pushing for that one minute.

Holy smokes was that hard.

Could I have gone harder?  Maybe.  If I wasn't breathing through a tube, then yes, of course I could have.  But that's not how this test works.

So, what was my end number:  53.1 ml/kg which puts me well above the norm in my age group.  It even puts me above the top end of the 25-29 year old age group.  I'm not surprised given that I'm a long time endurance athlete.  What I am surprised about is how close that measurement came to what my Garmin predicted.  My Garmin predicted a Vo2 max of 54ml/kg.  According to what I've read on various forums, Garmin has been pretty accurate in it's predictions.

The other thing that surprised me was my max heart rate, which came out at 184.  I have hit higher than this number in training both running and on the bike, which leads me to believe that I didn't give it my all in the test but that my head got the better of me.  My legs were just starting to feel that lactic acid burn when I signalled one minute left.  My lungs were burning and my breathing was laboured but in retrospect, I think I could have done one more minute, possibly even two.  That probably would have gotten me closer to what I suspect my max HR to be.

Why does all of this matter?  Well, as a training tool Vo2 max is helpful in establishing heart rate training zones if the test is administered by someone that knows how to do that.  It's also a good way to measure improvements in performance.  However, the key to an accurate test is to give it your all and that means pushing through your perceived limits.   You need to train your brain just as much as your body.

Have you ever had a Vo2 max test done?  What other types of performance testing have you done? 

~ Coach PK