Category Archives: General Stuff

Navy Tridents Sprint Tri

First triathlon of the year for many in NS, is the Tridents Tri Club race at the Shearwater base in Dartmouth.

It’s a pool swim based on self-seeded time estimate for 750m, with 12 racers in the pool swimming 2 per lane. The bike course goes up onto a runway, three laps around cones at each end and back. The run follows a crusher dust trail out and back.

I did this race in 2012, skipped it last year in favour of long training miles for ironman. In 2012, I swam pathetically, had a decent a bike and a reasonable run for 11th place. That’s a common story for me and triathlon, but my swimming showed signs of improvement last year. On the flip side, I’ve done next to no swimming over the winter, and for whatever reason, I don’t seem to have the same bike speed in early season training I’ve had the past couple of years. For good or ill though, this race is a good indicator of where your tri fitness is at…

I estimated a 15:xx swim, though expected to go a bit faster, but determined to pace it better than I did last time (I went out way too hard!), so that gave me a 12:30pm wave start time – a leisurely start to the day! Got to the race in plenty of time, watched some earlier heats, got registered and set up in transition. So far, so good.

As soon as the race started, I regretted my decision to where my tri vest in the swim. It felt like I was dragging a sail behind me. My club top is getting a bit worn and saggy and was definitely catching water. Hmm… my lane mate eventually pulled a little ahead, but I concentrated on pacing evenly and not pushing too hard. When I finally climbed out, I was disappointed to see there were only 3 or 4 people left in the pool, and my time was about exactly as estimated, not under. Hmm…

Onto the bike, and I blew past many of the wave on the first hill out of transition. I was trying to go hard; with that, and confusing cones and marshals, I managed to go off course a couple of times, lost a bit of time. Once on the runway, the wind was picking up, but I felt great, blasting down one way and riding strong and aero up the other. On the way back I was by myself with noone else from my wave, or previous waves in sight. Reasonable transition and out on the run course. A cool breeze kept the full sun from being unbearably hot, perfect conditions really, and I felt ok, working hard but under control.

I was quite happy the way the race went… until I saw the final results :-( On the positive side, I was a couple of minutes quicker than in 2012, was 12th out of 188, and actually enjoyed the race. On the negative, I was 84th in the swim (!!), was not dominating on the bike at all (10th and relatively slow avg), and only 6th in my AG.

Let’s dissect…
SWIM: no winter swimming – won’t do that again – thankfully the pool is now open in Bridgewater. I need to swim regularly year-round, not a lot, but regularly.
BIKE: wtf. I need to put some serious miles in, and quickly, if my HIM races are going to amount to anything this year. Is it even worth me signing up for the ITT Champs in 3 weeks? Going to get my ass kicked.
RUN: can’t complain too much, it was adequate; it’s just that everyone else seems to be upping their game more. Sigh.

Binned the idea of racing for the next 3 weekends, I need the bike training time. I need a better focus. I’ve been slacking, partly from feeling tired and drained a lot, but still… I’m going to have to find the added spark. I have 5 weeks to Challenge St. Andrews, 9 weeks to Bridgetown Long Course, and 12 weeks to the Yarmouth marathon. I was starting to feel a bit of a return to form, so don’t despair or try to do too much and knock myself in a hole, just add some focus and get serious about training again

Heart Rate Zone Calculators

Rubber Glove Cycling FTP

The first calculator will take the ‘FTP’ value from the cycling test, Rubber Glove, by, and when you enter your average heart rate value from the 20min test, it will display the heart rate zones, according to the accompanying notes. You don’t have to use Rubber Glove to get this figure though, any 20min cycling maximum effort will do – the important part is recording the average heart rate.

FTP Heart Rate

Running Heart Rate Reserve Method – from Pfitzinger

This method requires that you have calculated your Maximal Heart Rate by carrying out a hard interval session and measuring the highest number your heart gets to – this will be accurate enough for the purpose. Failing that, you can enter your age, and the form will estimate your MHR using 207-(0.7 x age) when you click outside the box. You also need to know your Resting Heart Rate by measuring it, for example, when you first wake up in the morning.

Your Age or, Maximal Heart Rate
Resting Heart Rate

Tumble Turns and Flying Mounts

There are a few technical skills that are ‘optional’ in triathlon, and that, to be honest, I’ve never bothered to master. Two of those are tumble (flip) turns in the swimming pool and the art of getting on and off the bike with your bike shoes attached to the pedals.

Tumble Turns
Tumble turns require a degree of spatial awareness that I was always lacking. At school, despite having a gym teacher for a mother, I couldn’t even manage a forward roll. Something about going upside down and slightly out of control had my brain scrambling to regain normalcy, which meant either not going over at all, or ‘aff to the side like Gourock’, as they say. Given that most of my races are open water, indeed most of my swimming is open water, there is no need for this skill really. And anyway, my open turns are almost as fast. However, despite all the glaring reasons why not to bother wasting time on this, it has been niggling me over the years. ‘Proper’ swimmers tumble turn.

So, I decided to use up one of my remaining pool times before it closes for the season, to give it a go. Armed with video instruction from youtube, and a pool noodle, I ventured forth…

The first and immediate effect of carrying out the forward roll and push off under water on your back from the wall exercises, was a forceful and excruciating sinus douche. Despite blowing out through my nose. How does that work? Now, I am apparently slightly allergic to pool chemicals as I spend most of the pool season sniffing and snorting, so the second and final effect of said exercises was much wailing, sneezing and gnashing of teeth, before exiting the pool in high dudgeon. Which is perhaps how someone with underwater sinuses might pronounce dungeon, incidentally. Well, on the upside, I did manage to complete the exercises without hospitalization, so we’ll count it as a moderate success.

Flying Mounts
I have never been a skateboarder, or a roller blader, or a stilt walker, skier or trapeze artist. In fact anything that requires balance and coordination to prevent painful injury. In fact, it’s surprising that I ever learned to ride a bike really.

I always look on with envy at pro triathletes coming to the dismount line, having taken their feet out of the shoes, pedaling on top, slinging a leg over the saddle, balancing on one leg until the last second when they hop down and smoothly commence running with the bike. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, legs getting tangled, catching the water bottle on the back of the saddle, landing elbow over apex in a grinding mass of carbon fibre, pointy bits of steel, and flesh. As it turns out however, it’s easier than it appears :-) I spent a merry hour on a quieter part of highway 8 slipping shoes on and off, getting my leg over (as it were), and hopping off. Nice. I’m still finding getting on at speed tricky. The real flying mount involves throwing yourself over the bike with the landing point being your perineum – I can’t bring myself to try that yet, much like poising with a rusty fork pointed at your own eyeball. I had moderate success though at pushing off with one foot on a pedal and slinging the other over in a reverse of the dismount, and that might have to do for now. Might even try this at the upcoming Riverport Duathlon.

Gasp Race Series?

Was that it? Was that really the 2013 triathlon season? As Speedy Gonzalez once said, “you won’t notice it, did you?” Well…

What a flipping screw-up of a race season that was then. I missed the sign-up for Shubie Dooby olympic distance triathlon on Sept. 8 – it sells out every year, I knew that, but hadn’t got around to entering. And that’s the last triathlon in the Atlantic Provinces apparently, at the start of September! And so, with the blink of an eye, it’s over. For another year.

That got me thinking, as I was sploshing through the chop in Charlotte Lake yesterday… there is definitely room for a late season triathlon, maybe even a Long Course. Maybe later September, or even into October, for goodness sake. The lake water will still be plenty warm and the weather can be the best of the year – it wouldn’t have to start at the crack of dawn. I got to thinking about a Gasp Race Series. This could be the Last Gasp Triathlon. An early season race – the first open water race in May/June could be the First Gasp. You could have a sprint distance race called the Short Sharp Gasp, or even a longer distance race called the Big Gasp. I like it. I wonder if the new management at Keji National Park would be amenable to having some races hosted there?? Hmm…

So, how can I salvage anything from 2013, other than the iron finish? If I had some money, I could enter Muskoka 70.3 in Ontario. If I had a lot more money, 70.3 Lanzarote in October, which would be ideal. But I don’t. So, I won’t. To be fair, it’s not just been about the money, I’ve only just managed to run with any consistency after injury, and am not race fit.
I have an entry in for the Riverport duathlon in October, which is my local tri club race. We are also heading into Fall marathon half/full season and that’s where my attention is starting to turn. In the absence of one more triathlon race, I may as well put swimming into maintenance mode, at least until the new pool opens in Bridgewater. I’ll keep up the bike work as much as possible, but the focus is definitely on building my running back up. I’ll have to see how that goes before making marathon goals, but even if I could fit in a couple of halves, and aim for sub-90 again, that would redeem the season for me.

Need to refocus now

It is over a month since Epic, and training has been fairly light and sporadic. That’s partly down to race recovery, partly injury, and partly catching up with jobs that were piling up around the house and farm.

I had managed a decent amount of swimming and biking, and the totals for last week actually looked like they may be good, but then I had to build a deck over the weekend which took up all of both days. Consequently, sitting here Monday morning, I feel like I’ve never run a step or pushed a pedal in my life.

My ankles are getting slowly better, I think – I’ll let you know later! I ran last week in an old pair of Asics 2170s and whether it was the shoes, or the last piece of kinesio tape I put on, or finally healing, I ran pretty much pain free – less than 4km mind, but have to take it slowly.

So, it’s time to start getting back into gear. I have some races pencilled in for the late season; Shubie olympic-distance triathlon, Rum Runners Relay, and maybe even the PEI marathon. I need a plan and to start working on sessions regularly again.

Officially Injured

So, the past couple of weeks run training has been a slow-motion train wreck… after seeming to recover very well from ironman and the ankle problems in the lead up to the race, I carefully added swim bike run back in. I was back swimming a couple of days post-race, and biking a few days later. Some point about a week after the race I tried a short run which went ok, aso I planned a build up of short runs interspersed with non-running days.

I had left my run special needs bag behind at the race, and in it were my old Asics 2170 everyday training shoes. I wasn’t too unhappy about this as they were worn and I would have replaced them pre-race if I had a chance. After having run about 250km in my Newton Motions in the race build up, I felt like I could probably transition fully to low drop shoes, so instead of replacing with another pair of 2170s, I bought a pair of Newton Sir Isaac S. These have a 4.5mm drop and are a more substantial shoe to the Motion, so seemed like they would be a great partner. As soon as I tried to run regularly, the pain in my right ankle returned – not badly, but enough to limit me to 4km runs and a day off after, frequent icing and general discomfort. I thought that the Isaacs might help that, but when they arrived, things just got worse.

Now, I have to say, I love these shoes and I really want them to work for me. I’m committed to forefoot running. But I had to walk home after 3.5km last night because the pain stopped me from running – sigh. Cue depression, misery, hopelessness. I’m facing the prospect of a complete stop to running and binning my remaining season’s race goals. I’ve emailed my physio for advice, and contacted Newton, who were super helpful. I’ll send them photos of the wear pattern on the Motions and see what they recommend.

In the meantime, I can swim and bike without pain, and can take the opportunity to add in some core and lower limb stability exercises – but it’s not the same as getting long run in, and doing fast intervals. It feels like such a long time ago that I was doing that stuff :-(

The Natural Triathlete

Don’t know about you, but ‘The Natural Triathlete’ brings up conflicting images for me. One the one hand, I see a lanky 15 year old lapping me without raising a bead of sweat, the kind who ride fast and hop off to run impossibly quick 5k times, the year after removing stabiliser wheels. On the other hand, I get an image of Anton Krupicka, bare of torso and foot, loping through the woods – though I would imagine his long hair isn’t very hydrodynamic – hey! I might even beat him in a multisport encounter – ya never know. The thing is, he’s not a triathlete, he’s an ultra runner, and generally speaking, ‘natural’ and triathlon don’t go together. That’s a little odd, when you think about it, as swim, bike and run are the natural sports of childhood, if you are lucky enough to have a bike, that is.

No, triathlon is probably more the preserve of the gadget-freak and number-weenie – let’s be clear, I’m including myself in these derogatory camps. However, I would also qualify myself as a hesitant gadget-freak, and reluctant number-weenie.

So, the point of all this is two-fold…

Firstly, I don’t own a bike computer, or a power meter, despite knowing that they would probably do my training and racing the power of good. I do have an old heart rate monitor, but purposely never use it. So, a hesitant gadget-freak, with no gadgets then. Well, that’s not really true is it, as I sit astride my carbon fibre race bike, with aero helmet and high tech race wheels. Or jump into my running shoes, my minimalist, low-drop running shoes…

Which brings me to the main point of my ramble. Yesterday, I swam in the lake sans wetsuit. Yes, I had swim hat, goggles and a watch on, but basically it was back to nature. Oh, I also had swim trunks on, not *that* back to nature. And then I went for a short run in the shoes designed to remind me what barefoot running is all about, in a high tech, high expense sort of back to nature way. It was to be moving without encumbrances. Unfortunately, I can’t currently run more than 4k in my low drop shoes because they have done for the achilles tendons on both ankles – so much for natural.

Maybe I should give in to gadgetry, get the power meter, cadence and GPS, go back to high-heel running shoes. Maybe I should embrace my inner number-weenie, accept my nature, would it be more natural if I did?

Keep on keepin’ on…

I’m kind of missing writing a training blog, so I thought I would document for posterity how the recovery has gone post-ironman…

The evening after the race and the following day were uncomfortable, especially where stairs and steps had to be negotiated, but by Wednesday and Thursday, I was back to fairly normal. I even got in for a swim on Thursday evening, followed by a short easy bike ride and run at the weekend.

The second week post-race involved all three sports, at a nice gentle pace and short distances. Second weekend plan was to carry out normal training, and see how well recovered I felt, with a view to building back into decent volume by week 3.

The weekend training sessions went quite well; 2500m swim, 60km bike and an 8k run – all at a steady but decent pace. I was a bit sluggish on the bike, and both achilles are feeling the strain of low drop shoes. I also ran 6k on trails on Sunday and another short swim, but I only have my 3mm drop Newton Motions race shoes at the moment, and it’s obvious that I hadn’t transitioned from my regular 12mm drop Asics shoes. My old shoes were getting worn out, and I actually forgot them in Dartmouth and didn’t bother to try and retrieve them – it was meant to be. However, it does mean transitioning in the midst of race season which isn’t ideal. I’m waiting for a pair of Newton Sir Isaacs to arrive and with a 4.5mm drop and more substance, I’m hoping these will be my new everyday running shoes. In the meantime, lots of ice and stretching needed!

I have held off signing up for the Bridgetown Long Course triathlon (half-iron distance) to see if I was going to be fit for it – I think I will be, but might leave it until the end of this week to decide for sure. If I do race, it means this week and next should build 10-14 hours, with some race pace intensity, and then an easy week as a short taper.

After that, I have a big dilemma… I still haven’t decided whether to try for a Boston qualifying marathon time before September, which practically means the Yarmouth marathon on August 25 – that’s not very long away. Or, abandon the idea until 2015 and concentrate on building up for a fall marathon, or gain some speed again with a view to hitting a half-marathon PB. All of those decisions have knock-on effects as to the events I plan to do in 2014 – as does my looming end-of-contract at work. That’s really the big issue which I have been procrastinating about to some degree.


Race Wheels

I have spent much of the last year agonising over various aspects of race wheels…

Can I justify the expense of a set of race wheels when the barn is falling down, the bathroom grows mould out of the walls and my children have to go without shoes? Assuming that even though the answer to that is “no”, can I afford a front wheel, a back wheel, or both?! If just one, which? Front or back? And so on…

Thankfully, at least a couple of questions had answers. I had decided to buy wheels from Flo Cycling, a start-up company of two brothers, originally from Dartmouth, NS, but now based in Las Vegas. With race wheels there are the three points of affordability, performance and availability, of which generally you can have only two… Flo wheels have shown great performance and are relatively affordable, but are only available after an online bun fight once every couple of months when they get a shipment in!

I also answered the question of the front wheel, and bought a 60mm aero front, the ‘Flo 60′ back in February. There is minimal aero advantage to a deeper 90mm, and in blustery conditions they can be hard to handle, so the choice was made. No problem.

Now, today is Pre-Order 5 at Flo, and in 2 hours and 28 minutes I’m going to have to decide whether to buy a rear 90, or a disc. I should say ‘try to buy’ as there are 950 people registered as interested in 440 wheels – some folks are going to come away empty-handed. Now, one strategy might be to attempt to buy a disc and if they sell out before I get one, fall back to a 90. But that might take up too much time meaning that I miss out on either!! Which wouldn’t be the end of the world as I could just put a wheel cover on my Kysrium for $100, and have a decent race setup with my 60 front!

To be continued…

So, there were 25 discs available, and I got straight into the shop as it opened, dashed through to checkout and was about to hit confirm when I noticed that I had added the wrong shipping, so I had to go back to change it, thinking that I had blown it. However, got back through checkout and hit confirm… order accepted!