ignition fitness

Emerging from Hibernation

It’s been a little while, but the first race report is out of the way and I think it is time for a little update on the rest! There is a touch of irony in the title, considering we got 5 inches of snow in Edmonton overnight, but I need to get my writing game back on track. So here is an update, and perhaps a tad about where I want to go…let’s do it!

MOVING AND TRAINING IN EDMONTON

The big news of the past month or so is that I moved from Hamilton back to Edmonton. I made the move at the end of February, and it took me a little while to re-adjust and adapt to the different lifestyle and slightly higher altitude, but the move went pretty smooth and the weather has been (mostly) spectacular. The shortage of paved, quiet roads closeby to ride on is kind of a bummer, but I’m taking it as an opportunity to get some solid quality in on the trainer with the occasional foray outdoors. The adjustment period from the move was quite smooth training-wise, and I have been working hard to be ready for 2015.

Skechers Performance, my amazing supporter for 2015, has been taking good care of me so far.

GROWTH YEAR IN 2015

I am about 90% of the way to finalizing my race schedule for 2015 (it can be found here). 2015 is going to be a growth year, where I kind of take everything in stride and focus on enjoying the journey. Apart from the Canadian Duathlon Championships in September, I am not going to focus as heavily on results as I have in the past. Sure, I’ll probably get a little revved up as the day of a race gets closer, but I am going to try to use race days experience new venues and to get a little bit of that “for love of the game” feeling back.

Racing officially started about a week and a half ago (MEC 5k rust buster notwithstanding), as I went back to where it all started for me with running. My first running race ever took place at the Lacombe Park Lake in St. Albert, and on April 19 I came full circle and looped past that same lake during the historic St. Albert Road Race 10 Miler. You can read my report on that race here, but the gist is I ran a new 10 mile PB (57:17), and got thoroughly humbled by some fast dudes on my way to a 7th place finish. BUT…it was a ton of fun and a great race experience to kick off my season. (Side note…a surefire way to kick your season off on the right foot: race a new distance and get a guaranteed PB!)

Finishing up the south loop of the St. Albert 10 Miler

Finishing up the south loop of the St. Albert 10 Miler

Pieces are coming together bit by bit. I just started a new job, and I am making my way through a big training block in preparation for the Calgary Half Marathon (which I have finally officially registered for, by the way). I am pretty confident in my ability to carry my good vibes from St. Albert over to my upcoming races, and I think running fast is actually very realistic. Next I will be heading to Penticton for some fun at the Bare Bones Duathlon and then hitting a 10k in Red Deer for my last tune-up race before racing the best in the country. With a little bit of luck, I am hoping that I can accomplish my spring goal of running 1:13-1:14 in Calgary.

MARGINAL GAINS

Bare Bones will be…a bit of an adventure to be honest. It will be a great opportunity to see where my ability to redline for a couple 5km runs and a 50 minute TT is. My numbers on the bike have slowly been creeping in same direction as my run recently…slowly. The race takes place on the hills of Challenge Penticton, and has some long uphill grinds and some quick, twisty downhills; the perfect barometer to also see how much work I will need to do on handling a bike after a long winter on the trainer, and also to test out my new position on my TT bike. Two months ago, I went in to Sweet Pete’s Bike Shop in Toronto to update the RETUL fit on my time trial bike.

Elevation profile for the Bare Bones Du...should be fun!

Elevation profile for the Bare Bones Du…should be fun!

It was a new bike last year, but my needs have also changed since my last fit so it was just time for an update. I believe that a proper bike fit is the number one piece of low hanging fruit on the tree, as well as piece that is most often missed. Fit is king when it comes to aerodynamics. Surprisingly my fit didn’t change all that much, though I have noticed that my fitters seem to relish my “aggressive” position; Taylor, my gracious fitter at Sweet Pete’s, seemed positively gleeful when he announced that he was taking out ALL of the spacers from under my stem. I ended up toeing the border of an aggressive triathlon fit and an upright time trial fit, while still keeping my hip angle sufficiently open to facilitate breathing and a strong run off the bike.

Before and After. A tad lower and sleeker, and a bit more comfortable. Thoughts?

Before and After. A tad lower and sleeker, and a bit more comfortable. Thoughts?

Another look

Another look

LOOKING FORWARD…

There`s a lot going on in the world of multisport right now. Equality is a hot button issue that keeps coming up all of the triathlon media. Bike fitting and equipment choices are taking on more and more importance as more information about it gets out there. My awesome supporter Skechers Performance has a whole line of shoes that I`m putting to a hard test, and hope to get some reviews out in the near future. And finally, duathlon in Ontario still has a soft spot in my heart. Some of these I might write about, others I might not, but they all resonate with me to some degree. I guess you`ll have to stay tuned!

Regarding Ontario duathlon, I will at least be writing some race previews for a few races this year. I`m currently looking for the names of people who plan to compete in the following races, since privacy issues have made it very difficult and tricky business to find these names elsewhere:

  • Iron Hawk Duathlon
  • MSC Welland Duathlon
  • Subaru Guelph Lake I Duathlon
  • MSC Belwood Duathlon
  • Ontario Duathlon Championships (Bracebridge)
  • Canadian Duathlon Championships (Esprit in Montreal)

If you are reading this and are competing at one of these duathlons, or know someone who will be, then feel free to shoot me a note at my contact email above. The information would be greatly appreciated. This is all in good fun, and is in the name of building up some excitement for the sport in Ontario, so the more information I can get means I can write a better preview! Pictures to accompany your section are also excellent.

Until next time…keep Du`ing it!

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Changes…

Well folks, it’s time for a little bit of an update. It’s been a busy last month for me…some good things, some unfortunate ones and tons of distractions! Training is trending upwards for sure, albeit slowly. With a bit of luck, I might surprise myself when I open up my duathlon season in May. As well…fantasy baseball draft season started. So that’ll be a time suck for the next month or so! But now onto the heavy stuff…

Something that has been official for about a month that I have not had a chance to officially announce is my partnership with 3SIXTY5 Cycling for the 2015 season. I have always been impressed with the level of support they have offered their athletes. Chris and co. are great guys, and they have nothing but enthusiasm and commitment to any athlete they come into contact with. AND they offer a custom product at prices that can’t be beaten. This year, I will be continuing my quest for marginal gains on the bike by (likely) riding the FAT 88 front wheel, complete with a Novotec hub and Sapim CX-Ray bladed aero spokes. It is a little deeper than I have ever ridden before (38mm to be exact), but going with the 88 is all about picking up that extra bit of speed…crosswinds be damned! At the very least, I can give it a shot during my early races and assess from there heading into September and Nationals…

And now for something a little more sobering…something that has come up in the past month or so that means big changes. Folks, I have a bit of a bomb to drop on you. At the end of February, I will be moving back in with my parents in Edmonton for a little while.

It’s a little snowy in Alberta’s Capital (ALS Global)

It is with my deepest regrets that I leave the Ontario duathlon scene behind, at least temporarily. This was a very difficult decision for me to make, but things have gotten to the point where I need to head home for a little bit, spend some time with family that I haven’t seen very much in the past several years and reset. There were a lot of factors that played into the decision, but that has not made it any easier. I am very proud of everything I have accomplished in Ontario these past years of racing duathlons. The duathlon community is gathering steam, and elites and enthusiasts alike and meshing together to make one strong community that is a ton of fun to be a part of. Y’all are going to be fine without me for a little while. With Nationals going back to Quebec this year, and being at a perfect time of year for a focus race, I’m confident that it’s going to be another competitive year for duathletes in Ontario. And hopefully Triathlon Ontario’s new National Qualifying Series will be a draw for duathletes across Canada.

I will continue to work with Tommy and Ignition Fitness. We have a good thing going over there, and I am excited to bring the “heat” to the western provinces. I will also be bringing along my awesome sponsors Skechers Performance Canada and 3SIXTY5 Cycling. Both have been awesome in the early stages of this transition, and I look forward to representing them in my new base. Regarding my work with Ontario Duathlon Central…I hope to keep that going, hopefully in a more collaborative fashion. I know more than a few will step up in my absence. Just seeing the excitement of new people who find our Facebook group has been incredibly rewarding. I’ll keep the site as functional as I can without being present on the scene for a little while…maybe even with a little bit of a western flavour…

Hopefully my Skechers gear and GORun Ultra's will keep me warm and upright out west...

Hopefully my Skechers gear and GORun Ultra’s will keep me warm and upright out west…

My race schedule is officially TBD, but there are a few gems out there I have been able to find that would be can’t miss experiences. I will likely start off my duathlon season in Penticton, at the Bare Bones Duathlon that Graham Hood, Malindi Elmore and some dude named Jeff Symonds have been known to frequent, supplemented by some road races and the Footstock Duathlon on June 14. I fully plan on making an extended trip back east in August/September to race Wasaga Beach as a key tune-up for Nationals in Montreal on September 13. In between, I will likely sprinkle in some single sport running and cycling races to stay sharp in those disciplines, while experiencing some of the destinations that the West has to offer. Obviously, it is with great sadness that I will not be racing on the MultiSport Canada circuit (ie. the “best darn race series in North America”) in 2015, but I will most definitely be preaching the good word to anyone who will listen to me out West.

Making an important stop at Sweet Pete’s before I leave.

So what’s next? I’m tying up some loose ends on the Ontario end of things and getting everything ready to head west. My last weekend will be pretty busy, as I am tentatively heading to Sweet Pete’s Bike Shop on the 24th to get RETUL fits on my two bikes. On the 21st, I’ll head to the Dundas Bike Swap to unload some spare parts, and then Sunday is the next Ignition Fitness Big Training Day, which will be my “last hurrah” in Ontario for a little while before heading west…

If you have any questions for me, please reach out. I’m ALWAYS available to chat and would absolutely oblige if you want to pick my brain. And please let me know if you are in the West at all this race season…I’ll be the one living like a monk and training like a maniac in my parents’ basement! My contact info is listed on the left of the page.

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

2014 Season In Review

To my readers, thank you for being so loyal this year. I don’t know exactly how many of you there are, but I am pretty sure I haven’t visited my own site over 3000 times since the beginning of the year…so thank you! I know I owe you a Season in Review post, considering the fact that my last race was 6 weeks ago!

2014 was a pretty wicked year. I won a bunch of races, held on for a bronze medal at Nationals, got humbled by the best the USA had to offer, felt the highs of peak fitness and the lows of the recovery doldrums, ran two HM’s and a 5000m on the track, started this website and got a solid following, started Ontario Duathlon Central and got a huge following, got muddy at Paris to Ancaster, then built a road bike. Wild ride!

I was going to use a “3 highlights, 3 low-lights, 3 lessons, 3 goals” format, but then I remembered where that idea came from…Cody Beals’ blog! Since he is a regular reader, I opted for another format. Month-by-month, here are 12 notable happenings, at least one for each month. I’ll wrap up with some broad goals for the next year in all areas of my life (because balance is key!).

JANUARY Race(s): None

Anecdote: January is cold and snowy. Training for your first half marathon is hard. Mixing the two can lead to some very sketchy long runs. Often consisting of several mind-numbing laps of the same short, semi-clear route. Or a retreat indoors to the treadmill. Luckily, this summer I work at a hotel with unlimited access to their treadmill and pool!

FEBRUARY Race(s): Grimsby Half Marathon (3rd, 1:18:01)

Highlight: First Half Marathon. I have never run anything longer than a 10k race, and even those have been few and far between. So the idea of a March half marathon felt daunting. Even moreso when, because of the dearth of tune-up options in February, my tune-up for the Chilly Half on March 2 would be a half marathon 2 weeks prior! I mainly solo’ed my way through awesome weather to a 1:18 HM debut.

MARCH Race(s): Chilly Half Marathon (19th, 1:16:24)

Lowlight: Second Half Marathon in snowy, -20 temperatures. After tentatively declaring my first half marathon (a controlled, monitored effort) a success, I took to the streets of Burlington two weeks later for the Chilly Half Marathon, hoping for a 1:15:XX clocking. I held strong through 10 miles (~57:30) before falling apart the last 5k. I have never wanted a race to end so badly as I slogged through slush and wind to the finish.

Martin Rd

APRIL Race(s): Harry’s Spring Run-Off 8k (15th, 27:21), Paris to Ancaster 65k (tons of fun!)

Lesson learned: Sometimes it is best to just back off, put in some hard training, and do some fun races to break up the monotony of the hard work. April was some of my biggest training volume of the entire season, and I came into both races pretty hot. Harry’s is a favourite course of mine, with two killer hills in kilometers 4 and 8. Paris to Ancaster has been on my bucket list for sometime, and I had a blast slogging through the mud, towing groups of “cyclists” along the rail trail, and getting dirty. Having those two “races” to look forward to made the training easier.

In Aero Position

MAY Race(s): Iron Hawk Duathlon (7th, 1:01:05), MSC Woodstock Sprint Duathlon (1st, 1:00:25)

Lesson learned: Sometimes a bit of forced rest can pay dividends. Before Iron Hawk, I had a sharp pain in my right foot, diagnosed as peroneal tendonitis. Recovery can take weeks or months, but rest, a massage, compression socks and some faith that I had done good work in April got me to the line. The pain stayed away for 61 minutes, and I held my own against pros like Sanders, Bechtel, and Forbes for a 7th place finish.

Welland Finish 2

JUNE Race(s): MSC Welland Duathlon (1st, 1:24:24), McMaster Twilight 5000m (10th, 16:02.5)

Highlight: Repeat victory in Welland. Despite missing coach Tommy’s course record again, I successfully defended my title in Welland against a strong field. Save for super-cyclist Grahame Rivers, I would have been first off the bike after a 16:34 opening 5k run and a PB 46:58 30k ride, and I made the pass barely 1km into the last 5.25k run. Well-executed final tune-up before a big double in July.

US Nats Bike Cornering

JULY Race(s): Canadian Duathlon Championships (Toronto, 3rd, 2:01:45), USAT Duathlon Championships (St. Paul, 9th, 1:21:12)

Lowlight: Toronto Triathlon Festival. Despite an early season focus on short course racing, Nationals has always been a dream of mine, so I set of to Toronto for the race. However, complicated logistics, poor weather, stupid pre-race decisions, poor nutrition, and a sub-par first run put the nail in the coffin. I had thoughts of calling it quits after sitting up the last 10km on the bike, before limping home with a 3rd place finish.

Highlight: USAT Duathlon Championships. 6 days later was US Nationals, so a short memory was required. Redemption was sweet, as I stayed within myself on the first run, navigated the technical bike course, and flew through the field on my way to the 3rd fastest second run. The trip was an amazing experience. It was Emma’s first time out of Ontario, and my dad made the surprise trip from Edmonton to watch.

TO Island First Run

AUGUST Race(s): MSC Toronto Island Sprint Duathlon (1st, 1:02:28)

Lesson learned: Proper recovery is an underrated, often overlooked, but incredibly important factor in endurance training. After my Nationals double, I underestimated the time it would take for my body to get back to normal, needing a few extra recovery days here and there. A sketchy performance in Toronto and compromised recovery in the following weeks led to an inconsistent and sporadic build up to Lakeside.

Mass Start

SEPTEMBER Race(s): MSC Lakeside Sprint Duathlon (1st, 1:01:46)

Lowlight: Switching races in Lakeside. After spending a ton of time promoting and pumping up the international distance provincials at Lakeside and looking forward to being a part of it, I was forced to switch into the shorter, sprint distance race due to not feeling ready…both physically and mentally. It was quite a blow to have to miss the race, but I was able to finish off my MSC season undefeated, with 4 overall wins.

New experience: Watching races is actually quite a rewarding experience. After switching races, I had the opportunity to go to the Sunday races (the sprint was on Saturday) and represent Ontario Duathlon Central and MultiSport Canada by live blogging the event. I had more fun spectating than I did competing all year (possible exception being St. Paul). It was great to see the guys I wrote about all year in action.

1. Complete Bike

OCTOBER Race(s): None

New experience: Building a road bike! After using my CX bike as an ill-suited road bike all year, and riding my TT bike entirely too much, I sold it and used the proceeds to accumulate the parts to build a road bike, including a 2nd Powertap. I took a vintage 2003 Klein Q Carbon Team frame and fought for days with my new arch nemeses, internal cable routing and cable tension, and came out with a sweet road machine!

2014 SEASON SUMMARY AND GOALS FOR 2015
So despite some bumps, I would consider my 2014 season a success. I doubled my career win count. I got my feet wet at the national and international level, and delivered some good results there. I took a leap of faith, quit my relatively comfortable job in professional sports and ventured into the abyss of life as an athlete.

Next year will be about taking the next step, seeking out some competition that I have never faced before and finding out where my limits are. I had my eyes opened this season as to what it takes to do this sport successfully, and my major focus this offseason will be about setting myself up for success in 2015. My three broad goals for 2015:

1) Become a more well-rounded athlete. Worlds in 2016 may very well be draft-legal for non-elites, and part of the reason I wanted a road bike was the develop the skills needed to be successful there if I choose to go. I also would like to dabble in the new Powerman USA series, likely at the September 27 event in Frankenmuth, MI. And finally, my training may end up being a little less…dry than it has been in past years.

2) Develop my brand into something attractive and lasting. It’s no secret that self-branding is almost as important as training in this sport, and I think 2014 was a good start. 2015 will be about kicking it into overdrive and leveraging my brand, sponsorship packages and intrinsic value into a strong network of support relationships.

3) Work on the forgotten aspects of training. I have an offseason strength training program, but it is more or less forgotten once race season rolls around. This is something I would like to continue deeper into my 2014 season. Starting in 2015, I also want to create a more stable routine, including consistent sleep hours, a predictably scheduled day, and a wholesome nutrition plan, building on the steps I took this year.

A season review post would not be complete without a HUGE thank you to my sponsors and supporters:

Thanks for reading and keep an eye out for some fun features the next few months!

Until next time, keep Du’ing it!

“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.

“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!

Pre-Nationals Perspective

Humility is a good thing. A good thing that comes with being handed a little bit of perspective when the ego starts to get out of control. I have been riding an exceptional high since my overall wins in Woodstock and Welland. This past Monday, I raced a little twilight track 5000m at McMaster, a race I saw being promoted a bit on Twitter by triathletes Taylor and Austen Forbes, where I knew the guys would be getting after it. At the very least, it would end up being a really good gauge of where my fitness is, perhaps helping to guide my final preparations for Nationals at the Toronto Triathlon Festival on July 13.

Turns out, I got my fitness test and a slice of humble pie for dessert. I ran 16:02.49 for 5k, with kilometre splits of 3:08, 3:11, 3:14, 3:15, 3:14. Here’s the kicker though: I got lapped. Twice. The lead group went sub-15:00, led by Taylor in 14:28 (what an animal!). I settled in to the second group, which I followed until one guy dropped and the other gapped me, right around 2.5km. Then I just tried to fight off the 4th km malaise that has always plagued me. The pace lagged and I was isolated. I managed to finish strong in 72 seconds for my final lap. I’m quite happy with the result, which I figure is good for about 15:40 on the roads, and getting spanked around like that really reminded me that there is still A LOT of work to do to get to the level I want to be on.

Mac Twilight Meet

McMaster Twilight Meet 5000m (16:02.49)

2014 has been a fantastic season for me. Last season, I struggled with injuries and was slow to adapt to the new training program I jumped into in joining Tommy and Ignition Fitness. There were growing pains, some overtraining, a monumentally questionable decision to run indoor track, and the aforemetioned injuries. I raced Woodstock, Binbrook and Welland last year having not been able to run more than 30 minutes at a time, with the odd progression run for “speedwork”. I was able to start grooving a bit before Worlds, but never really got into the condition I wanted to be in, which was reflected in the results. I recorded just one win (in a perfectly executed race) and whiffed on all my rough time goals.

Fast forward to this year: I focused on a steady and controlled diet of endurance volume and hard progression runs through the harsh winter (take that Polar Vortex, then ran my first two half marathons in February (1:18:01) and March (1:16:24). While many were struggling to get in the requisite bike training over the winter, I hit the trainer hard and saw HUGE gains in my cycling fitness. Between November and March, I watched my FTP spike by ~20W, and another 12W by mid-May. As a result, I have been racing on an extra 30W all season, which has resulted in keeping my leads intact deeper into the bike. A phenomenal improvement over last year, when I would nearly overextend the first run, only to get caught while the bike distance was still single digits.

In Aero Position

Thanks Felt Bicycles and Wheels of Bloor for the extra speed.

My run has also improved. Before this season, my duathlon 5k PB was 17:04 (Welland 2013). This year I have split faster 3 times. Each time I have then got on the bike and pushed wattage that would have been absurd last season. I have been able to finally adapt to Tommy’s training program, which emphasizes higher intensity, lower volume and more recovery. I still hate days off…but I am learning their value. I have also finally started to pay attention to the other areas that need it. I used to burn the candle at both ends, and eat terrible food. My diet was primarily processed foods. However, Emma has been helping me slowly shift to a more plant-based diet, and cooking out of a Thrive cookbook. We rarely eat out anymore, and I have been forced to be more careful about what I put in my body in order to get the right nutrients. I feel stronger than ever, and bounce back from workouts quickly!

Thrive Energy Cookbook

Eat clean, race fast.

As a result of all of this, my confidence is sky high heading into Nationals on the 13th. I truly believe that with a well-executed race that I can be a national champion on July 13. Only the day will tell us if I am able to achieve my goal. For this, I have a few people to thank, people that I would not be here without.

ROUGH LOGO 3 blank

Everyone at Ignition Fitness has been awesome, especially Coach Tommy Ferris. It’s taken a little while to get to know each other and to wrap my head around the program, but we’re making huge progress now. Tommy is incredibly flexible, which has been awesome with all of the life changes I have had in the last 2 years. Through Tommy’s hard work, I have also had access to many sponsors that have allowed me to have the best equipment (thanks to Felt Bicycles and Wheels of Bloor) and the best nutrition (courtesy of Clif Bar) to push me into that next level. My teammates have also been nothing  but supportive at races!

MSC

Being a part of the Multisport Canada/Recharge With Milk Ambassador team has been one of the best things I have stumbled on in my career. It started with an article I wrote about the doomed Barrelman duathlon that got me thinking about what I can do to save my sport. I conscripted Larry Bradley into helping me build Duathlon Central and took a more active role on social media and with race directors to create opportunities for duathletes, before being asked by Roger and John Salt to represent duathletes on the Ambassador team. It has been incredibly rewarding. The Multisport Canada crew puts on a top notch event, and I am proud to represent them. Every result means more when the race director is there to be the first one to congratulate you, the venues are second to none, and the race distances are challenging and great preparation for provincial, national, and international championship events. Given the choice, I will travel the extra hour or so to get to a Multisport Canada event than any other race!

Emma and Jesse

Always there for me

Most of all, my family. My girlfriend Emma has been dragged around to more conservation areas at ungodly hours than any reasonable person should be expected to. Yet, when I cross the line I’m pretty sure she is more proud of me than anyone else there. I can’t wait to chase her around the Lakeside Resort in September for her first sprint duathlon! Transportation has always been an issue for me, but her parents have been unbelievable as well, rearranging their lives to get to all the races I can’t get to myself. Finally, I need to thank my parents who, despite living across the country in Edmonton, are always there. They flew in for a week to see me race at Welland, and are the primary sponsors of all of the expenses I will incur for TTF and US Nats in St.Paul.

Obviously, success is a team effort. Without my sponsors and these 5 incredible people, I would have a lot more to worry about and weigh me down! For that I am thankful, but there is still a long way to go. I intend to keep the pressure on for the next 11 weeks in search of a Provincial title, a National title, and a chance to make a name for myself nationally and internationally. Should be fun!

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

“That’s Two in a Row” – MSC Rose City Duathlon Report

It’s been a tough 3 weeks of training since my last race in Woodstock, but I came in to my favourite venue at my favourite race series on an emotional high. The final result (click here to view) is best described by Lou Brown in Major League 2.

Welland Pre-Race

Chatting with Larry Bradley pre-race (Photo Credit Emma Parker, 2014)

However, my second win of the 2014 season started off with a little bit of a scare. After a good warm-up and little recon of the course (ie. getting to know which potholes to avoid if I wanted to keep my front wheel intact), I was heading out to the start line when I caught a glimpse of the great Dave Frake racking his bike. As he had just come off setting a course record at the Real Deal Gears Thursday Night Time Trial, I was a tad relieved to hear that he would be competing in the duathlon relay (where he put up a stunning 41:24 split on the 30km bike). The target on my back was quickly apparent when series director John Salt called out in front of the entire field asking Larry whether he was going to run me down or not!

Welland Start

Pushed to the front off the start (Photo Credit Emma Parker, 2014)

RUN #1 (4.98km by my count) – 16:34 (3:19/km, 1st overall and duathlon 5k PB)
Run gear – Nimblewear custom Ignition Fitness trisuit, Saucony Type A5 Racing Flats, Zoot compression socks

Before the horn, I could definitely tell my strength on the run was well-known, as I was basically pushed right to the front. I had PLANNED to let someone else take the lead across the bridge before taking over as we hit the fitness path, though this seemed to signal otherwise. Luckily a new face, Mike Park from Clinton, swooped in and surged to the front. I was more than happy to work in tandem with him on the first run, and it was actually quite nice to get to know this dude. Some strong running today from him (stealing my R2 bonus in the process!)…some more miles on the bike may make him another 20-something to watch in Ontario duathlon! We cruised through, clipping off about 3:18’s before I drifted away from him with about 600m to go in the first run. I rolled in to transition with a very strong 16:34 5k (that felt a little too easy to be true) and a healthy lead over my major competitors in the race.

Welland First Run

On my way to the bikes after a 16:34 opening 5k (Photo Credit Emma Parker, 2014)

Welland Bike Exit

Heading out onto the bike on my Felt B16 (Photo Credit My Sports Shooter, 2014)

BIKE (29.77km) – 46:58 (3rd overall, duathlon 30k bike PB, NP 235W/AP 230W)
Bike set-up – 2014 Felt B16 (courtesy of Wheels of Bloor) w/ Bontrager Aeolus 5 carbon clincher front/Williams S30 w/ Powertap hub and Dyma wheel cover rear, Michelin Pro Race 3 tires (23c front/25c rear), Lazer Tardiz aero helmet, X-Lab Torpedo BTA bottle, S-Works Trivent triathlon shoes

My transitions in this one could have been cleaned up a bit, though the duathletes had a tough rack spot in transition. Each transition involved a U-turn close to the run in/out that resulted in a longer run to and from our bikes, but as they say, it’s the same for everybody! Mother Nature definitely had her say on the bike. The winds were gusting over the canal today, which led to some nasty crosswinds on the short jaunt along the canal before the first right turn…straight into the headwind. Headwinds are made for the super-cyclists of the world, not for the 125lb rabbits who are just looking to minimize the damage on the bike. I attempted to settle into a groove, and found a semblance of one on the way out. The time trial start of the triathlon really helped to reduce the congestion on the course as I rode terrified of the monsters chasing me from behind. Surprisingly, I managed to make it to the turnaround with my lead intact, but the bad news was coming…Dave Frake, Larry Bradley, and Grahame Rivers, all in quick succession, less than a minute back. The tailwind helped keep them at bay for another 4-5km, but Grahame made the pass just before 20k, followed by Frake closer to 5k. Though Larry was charging hard, I managed to hold him off as we entered transition with a new 30 duathlon PB.

Data nerds, click here for my Strava file. Definitely much better pacing on this one than in Woodstock, undoubtedly helped along by the flat course profile!

RUN #2 (5.35km) – 19:31 (3:38/km, 2nd overall)

Emma fed me the time gap heading out of transition, so I was out on the run knowing I had a 75 second gap to make up on Grahame after his wicked duathlon-best 42:04 bike split. My legs were feeling the strong push into the headwind on the way out, but I was confident. Training has been going fantastically, and even though all my charts said I should be tired I know I am strong right now…especially on the run. After cruising over the bridge and navigating the tight turns around the cones, I went hunting. I made the catch just after the first turnaround (tons of credit needs to go out to Grahame here…to ride like that after a tough first run is stunning to see, and to know that he went from 5 minutes back over a shorter distance three weeks ago to 2 minutes back today is impressive…and a bit terrifying). From there, I just followed the lead bike back to the finish line where I crossed in a time of 1:24:24, shy of Tommy’s course record but with some gas left in the tank.

FINAL RESULT – 1ST OVERALL (1:24:24)

Welland Finish

Thanks to Ignition Fitness, Multisport Canada, Felt Bicycles, Clif Nutrition, Wheels of Bloor and the rest of my sponsors and support team for making this win happen (Photo Credit Emma Parker, 2014)

Welland Finish 2

Celebrating a second straight Welland Duathlon win (Photo Credit My Sports Shooter, 2014)

Duathlon Central Boys

Duathlon Central partners in crime go 1-2 in Welland! (Photo Credit Emma Parker, 2014)

Saturday was exceptionally special because I got to share it with some of my biggest supporters. Not only was Emma there, my rock and number one fan, always cheering her heart out and taking fantastic pictures (not easy to do both apparently!), but my parents were able to fly in from Edmonton to see me race for the first time since Worlds in Ottawa last year. You three are always there for me when it gets tough, and this sport can be incredibly tough, so thank you. And I hope you enjoyed that win Pops…Happy Father’s Day!

Big thanks to send out to Coach Tommy at Ignition Fitness, I’m proud to wear the yellow flame for you at all of my races. John and the gang at Multisport Canada, you did it again. Another impressive event…I’m proud to fly the MSC flag as part of the Recharge With Milk Ambassador team.  Felt Bicycles and Wheels of Bloor, I’m loving my new Felt B16 more and more with every race and training ride, and I live and die by my Clif Bars and Shots for nutrition during training and racing. Next up for me is MY BIG RETURN TO THE TRACK, as I take on some trackies in an assault on my 5,000m PB at McMaster on June 23…what better place than where the Canadian high school record was set? After that, it’s back to the batcave for my final prep for the Canadian Duathlon Championships at the Toronto Triathlon Festival on July 13 and my destination race of the year, the USA Duathlon Championships in St. Paul, Minnesota on July 19. Exciting times lay ahead!

So until next time…keep Du’ing it!

Welland Podium

MSC Welland Duathlon Overall Podium (Photo Credit Emma Parker, 2014)

Welland Final Results

MSC Rose City Duathlon Final Results