Month: August 2014

“Battling Through Adversity” – Multisport Canada Toronto Island Race Report

This past Sunday, I headed to Toronto Island and see what I could do about shedding a little bit of the rust that had accumulated since US Nationals. The lead-up to this race has been less than ideal, as I fought a battle with recovery for several weeks. I also spent the 8 days leading up to the race in 5 different cities, logging multiple hours on airplanes and in cars along the way. Despite this, I managed to come away with my third win in three tries on the MSC Series this season, in an above-average time of 1:02:28.

MSC Toronto Island Overall Podium

On top despite strong charges from Garvin Moses (on my immediate left) and Phil McHatty (third from right). Great races for 4th and 5th from Darren Cooney and Chris Marentette round out the top 5 men.

My far from ideal lead-up continued into Saturday, through no one’s fault but my own. I slept intermittently despite a comfortable homestay provided by Parichit Bagga and Garima Takyar, underestimated the walk to the ferry, and completed registration like a rookie, leading to two missed ferries I planned to be on. Finally on the Island, this gave me 30 minutes to set up transition, listen to the briefing, and warm up. It goes to show how valuable the information in that pre-race report can be, even for experienced racers.

TO Island Mass Start

Note: the times & distances quoted below are my Garmin distances, and like all GPS data, should be taken with a grain of salt.

RUN #1 (4.95km) – 16:53 (3:25/km, 2nd overall)

The first run was led out quickly by Mitchell Valic of Etobicoke, and my legs did not wake up in time to follow. It took me the first two laps (of four) to work myself into the race, at which point I dropped my companion Chris Marentette and went off after Mr. Valic solo. I would end up entering transition about 30 seconds back, followed by Chris and a formidable trio containing Garvin Moses, Phil McHatty and IMO the most improved duathlete in Ontario this year, fellow Ignition Fitness athlete Darren Cooney.

TO Island First Run

BIKE (19.5km) – 32:50 (35.6kph on 211AP/204NP, 4th fastest)

Oh boy, where to start on the bike…

Easily the worst ride I have had all year. I have been struggling with consistency on the bike all year, and unfortunately this ride is just one to shake off. No excuses, because the course is the same for everyone and bad luck can happen to any athlete at any race. It is the athlete’s responsibility to deal with it. I could not catch a break on Sunday and I did not handle it very well…perhaps fortune will swing my way in Lakeside. Here’s a look at the charts, with the points of interest highlighted:

Toronto Island Bike Leg File

I tried to settle into my target power of 230-240W for the stretches that I could, though I spent a lot of time up out of my aero position making tight passes. One day I will have the nerves of steel to make these passes tucked down in aero! I also battled some nasty cramping in my calf for a portion of the bike. Thankfully that cleared itself up before it came time to run, though I am ashamed to admit those three nasty letters (D-N-F) did cross my mind at some particularly frustrating stages…

TO Island Bike

RUN #2 (2.95km) – 10:15 (3:28/km, 2nd overall)

Garvin and Phil both put in excellent bike splits and passed me right before my second maintenance vehicle mishap, providing the spur I needed to will my calf cramp away. Thankfully, once back on my feet where I can better control the outcome I quickly moved into second and then into the lead as we hit the roads for 2 loops. Rather than taking my foot off the gas, I was determined to keep pressing all the way to the line. I was pleased with this effort to finish strong and very nearly negative split the run segments.

TO Island Second Run

FINAL RESULT (officially) – 1:02:28 (1st overall)

So…still undefeated in MSC racing this season despite what I consider a subpar race effort. Lessons learned from this one:

  • Plan for logisitics. Races are up front about these, so they are not an excuse.
  • Shake off adversity. Stuff happens that may or may not be in your control.
  • READ THE PRE-RACE REPORT. Live it. Breathe it. Know it. Seriously.
  • Cody Beals doesn’t care how comfortable or convenient your aero road helmet is.

You can check out my post-race interview with Multisport Canada media guru Roger Hospedales by clicking here. Sorry for all the pauses, I’m still refining my interview skills :).

Thanks to my girlfriend Emma for taking these awesome pictures, and for being the loudest one on the Island. Parichit and Garima for opening up your home to us on Saturday night. To Coach Tommy Ferris and the Ignition Fitness crew for the constant guidance and reality checks I need. To Multisport Canada for another great event despite all the challenges. And to Felt Bicycles, Clif Bar Canada, Nimblewear Canada, Wheels of Bloor, Big Race Wheels and My Sports Shooter for all of the support you give Ignition Fitness athletes.

Until next time, keep Du’ing it!

TO Island Cooldown

A very engaging cooldown with two domestic superstars, Cody Beals and Alex Vanderlinden.

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“Trust the Process” – Mastering the Recovery Balance

The time for another race is getting closer and closer. I have been laying low since US Nationals, attempting to recover from a double that was more trying than I anticipated it would be. I had some struggles and some challenges getting ready to build myself back up again, both physically and mentally. This period made me consider my slow road to recovery a little deeper, and gave me the idea to put together some blog posts on my adventures, experiences and hardships with recovery from endurance athletics. Throughout this experience I told myself to “trust the process”, even when the process led me down an alternate path that I did not expect to be wandering down. This post will focus on my story, before I dive deeper into the concepts in subsequent posts.

Following my learning experience at Canadian Nationals and my redemption race at US Nationals, I tried to listen to my body and only jump into training when my body was ready (a mistake I made last season between Worlds and Lakeside). I knew that 95km of racing sandwiched around a week of travel to and from St. Paul would have an effect on my body, so I took 3 full days off following the race, and a further week to 10 days of easy recovery and endurance workouts to let the body slowly recover. My first jolt of getting back to training was to begin on the August long weekend, followed by several weeks of longer workouts to get me accustomed to the distance that I will encounter at Lakeside.

Drained

“Drained” best describes how I felt after US Nationals. Physically and emotionally.

Alas, it was then that I encountered a trial of a different sort, one that is as much external to my training as it it internal. The Tuesday following two exceptional workouts during the August long weekend was an exceptionally trying longer run interval workout, though I did manage to survive it with positive results. I hoped a good sleep and and an easy Wednesday workout would get me out of the woods and back to normal, but this would unfortunately only turn out to be the calm before the storm. I fooled myself that I was okay the next day after getting through an easy 90 minute ride without side effects, and deemed myself ready to attempt a tough brick workout on Thursday…where I cracked spectacularly and could not finish the workout.

I have been through this on several occasions in my short multisport career, and I have learned a little more with each experience. Each time, I attempted to re-integrate myself into intense endurance training after insufficient recovery from a block of hard training and racing, characterized by a feeling of overconfidence and invincibility. On all occasions, I now wish I had taken more downtime and tipped the balance that direction a bit more, in order to avoid the aborted workouts and forced rest that would follow. I did not give myself sufficient time to REBUILD (allowing your body time to physically repair the damage of the last block), REFOCUS (giving your mind time to step back and regain lost motivation) and RE-ENGAGE (slowly re-integrate your body and mind into the grind of training).

3 Rs of Recovery

My Three R’s of Recovery

After aborting my Thursday brick mid-workout, I took Friday off and Saturday, Sunday and Monday very, very easy. By Sunday and Monday I was feeling better, but resisted the urge to up the intensity (my mistake before Provincials in 2012). I did truncated “feeler” workouts Tuesday and Wednesday to gauge my recovery efforts, with good results and no “drained” feeling. Again, I resisted the urge to push through and complete the full workouts without knowing if my body was 100% (my mistake in 2013 following my last indoor track season). Thursday was a successful (again truncated) brick workout with excellent results, and another recovery day Friday was followed by absolutely no issues during tough workouts on the weekend and into this week. I feel back to normal, but time will tell if what I did will work in the long run. My race at Toronto Island this weekend will be the next indicator of success.

The full effect of my trials and subsequent efforts to correct them will likely not be known until after Lakeside. By then, I will hopefully have gotten through my blog series about my perspectives and experiences with recovery, where I would like to tackle the three concepts of REBUILD, REFOCUS and RE-ENGAGE separately, and can share some longer term results. My hope is that you, my readers, can learn my experiences and become better racers yourselves, ones who pay as much attention to the recovery process as you do the building process. Thank you to Coach Tommy Ferris of Ignition Fitness for seeing me through this tough period, and getting me through to wrap up my first season as a Multisport Canada/Recharge With Milk Ambassador at Toronto Island this Sunday, and Lakeside on September 14.

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

A Border City Battle – Tecumseh Duathlon Preview

I spend a lot of time with my finger on the pulse of duathlon in Ontario. My role writing race previews and recaps for Ontario Duathlon Central has me trolling results every weekend, and digging through registration lists during the week. One of my favourite races on the Ontario calendar is the Windsor (now Tecumseh) Duathlon in Tecumseh, Ontario. It was my first duathlon in 2009, and I returned two years ago where I was first off the bike on my way to the overall win and a course record on the current race course (1:23:43). Unfortunately, I will not be able to make it again this year (not for lack of trying), but with several excellent athletes planning on attending, there could be quite the battle taking aim at my mark. Here is what each of those contenders may need to do to win (in no particular order).

Author’s Note – The following preview is all in good fun, and will likely be entirely wrong (as I have often been in the past). Much like I did for Welland, I highlight the contenders in the men’s race and how each MIGHT win the race. This is an unofficial preview, and the opinions reflected on the potential outcome of the race, as well as the traits of each athlete, are my own. Take it with a grain of salt as I am not, and do not pretend to be, an authority of any kind other than what I can glean and guess from looking at results and chatting with athletes. So without further ado…enjoy!

SCOTT FINCH (2014 results: 1st at Niagara – 1:21:08)

SCOTT FINCH

Photo Credit – Chyla’s Race Photos, 2013

Strength – Experience. Scott knows how to win duathlons, and has been doing it for years. There are no real holes in his game, as he has done it with the run, on the bike, and with his head. He takes care of the low-hanging fruit and doesn’t leave things to chance. A true winner is a rare commodity, and Scott is just that. And this race will require its winner to be 100% on, gun to tape.

Wild Card – Race fitness. Scott is smart, and he proved his fitness two weekends ago in winning Niagara. However, he has very few races under his belt in the last 12 months, and this will be his deepest test in Lakeside last year. There is really no substitute for racing, and when the chips are down just knowing if and how you will respond to the race can be valuable.

How Scott wins on Sunday – Use his matches wisely. Scott has always had the bike split necessary to lead off the bike, and the running legs to hang on for the win. Race savvy can go a long way, and knowing when to burn matches and when to save them is crucial. A smart racer knows the bullets they have, and uses them judiciously.

DARYL FLACKS (2014 results: 16th at Iron Hawk – 1:03:59, 1st at Leamington – 1:02:03, 3rd at Guelph Lake I – 1:55:39, 2nd at Sprint Nationals (Belle River) – 1:02:31, 6th at Nationals (TTF) – 2:04:23)

DARYL FLACKS

Photo Credit – Chyla’s Race Photos, 2014

Strength – Take your pick. Strong bike, mentally tough, plenty of race experience. Daryl comes in to Tecumseh with more du’s this season than anyone else in this preview combined. His bike is always in the top tier of racers, and he shows up to every race willing to win or die trying. These guys are always a factor, especially with a weapon like Daryl’s bike. Don’t ever count him out.

Wild Card – The run. If there is anything, it is that Daryl’s short course run lacks the bite that it sometimes takes on the last run to seal it. Daryl gets better as the distance goes up and has excellent chops at 10k or longer. But with only 9km of running and a strong short course runner in the field, a winning move on the bike will have to be decisive and final.

How Daryl wins on Sunday – Crush the bike and hang on. Apart from Scott in top form, no one in the field can out-ride Daryl. He nearly executed this strategy to perfection in Belle River, coming up just short (27 seconds) to a very talented CIS varsity runner and elite U23 triathlete, Chris Moyer. Redemption is sweet, and no one there on Sunday has a run quite like Moyer.

RYAN ALLISON (2014 results: 12th at Iron Hawk – 1:02:24)

RYAN ALLISON

Strength – The run. Likely the strongest runner in the field, Ryan has put together an impressive list of running results this season. So far this year, he has recorded a 16:26 5k and a 34:09 10k, results that no more than a handful of Ontario duathletes can match. This race may come down to getting as far away from Ryan as possible on the bike before the second 6km run.

Wild Card – Bike fitness. Apart from Iron Hawk, Ryan has not raced any duathlons this year, focusing instead on running. He has been very open about the lack of time he has spent on a bike. Of course…he said that before Iron Hawk too, then proceeded to outsplit me. The bike is a wild card, and may make it difficult to put a dent into whatever lead he may have off the first run.

How Ryan wins on Sunday – Bike for show, run for dough. This race can be won on the run. With a 3km run to start and a flat bike to come, there is enough time to gap the field early and get lost among the triathletes on the course while keeping the foot on the gas. Being first off the bike may just seal it, but watch out Ryan…the horses will be coming for you to ensure that doesn’t happen.

SHAYNE DUMOUCHELLE (2014 results: 5th at Sprint Nationals (Belle River) – 1:03:52, 2nd at Niagara – 1:22:35)

SHAYNE DUMOUCHELLE

Strength – Tenacity. One chat with this guy and I already know that he just wants to win races. He says he doesn’t plan on being crowded on the bike course, which I could only assume means he has nothing short of victory on his mind. His first two du’s have been a top 5 finish at Sprint Nationals and a narrow 2nd place at Niagara. Improvement curves usually goes up quickly.

Wild Card – Experience. Shayne has the least duathlon experience of anyone listed here…which could very well mean absolutely nothing. Multisport racing has some technical element, and seconds can be had in areas that aren’t governed by mental and physical toughness. This race could very well come down to those seconds…or not.

How Shayne wins on Sunday – Be the last man standing. Shayne is back for a rematch with Scott, and gets some duathlon veterans coming along for the ride. I could tell he was smarting from the tight 2nd place in Niagara, and I gather he badly wants the W in Tecumseh. The skills are there to push the other three right to the line, as is the hunger. Watch your backs boys.

This race could play out any number of ways, and will be exceptionally fun to follow. If I had to guess, I would say Ryan leads the field into T1, with about a minute gap on the group containing the other three. From there, it depends on how he rides. If he rides like he has in the past, Ryan will be tough to beat. By his own admission though, that’s not likely. More likely, he rides around how he did at Iron Hawk, and likely gets caught somewhere on the second bike lap. Me, I’m hoping for Scott, Daryl and Shayne to come into T2 together with a minute or two on Ryan, creating a wild 3-way footrace for the line with a pair of fleet feet chasing hard from behind. THAT would make for some good TV.

Until next time, keep Du’ing it!