running

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!

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Hitting Reset…

The primary reason I started this blog was as an outlet. When I feel pressured, stressed or down, I like to write…writing just makes me feel better, it has cleansing properties for me. Writing race reports and sponsorship announcements are all well and good, but sometimes when things just aren’t going my way.

And well folks…it’s been a bit of a rough winter. After an extended “mental break” during the fall, where I just rode my road bike a ton, I started to ramp up the training with a 6 week endurance block as the weather cooled down. Alas, while out for an easy 45 minute evening run, I felt some discomfort on the inside of my knee that quickly locked up my lower leg and forced me to walk 4km home from Princess Point. I was confined to the bike for a few weeks until I could run again, and even then we decided to use the opportunity to put a heavy focus on the bike and keep my runs to the 20-30 minute range as a secondary workout of the day. As a long-time runner I have 10 years of running base built up beneath me to fall back on, but this is still a tough pill to swallow…because I love to run.

PMC Chart

Bonus points if you can pick out (a) my week off from injury and (b) my time off being sick! Ugh.

Then, just when I was starting to groove and move away from the endurance focus towards the nitty-gritty high end training in the middle of December…I got sick. It was a nasty cold that took up residence in my chest and would just not go away for a long time. Riding indoors wasn’t fun because the stale air made breathing tough, and doing anything outdoors in the suddenly cold air was just as difficult. I brought my bike and trainer all the way to Emma’s parents’ place in Walkerton, only to do one short ride in the basement then call it a week. From start to finish, it was a good 10 or 11 days before I was able to get back on the bike/run.

Endurance Progression Chart

Things started turning around again on this little endurance progression…that last 15 minutes sure did hurt though!

So I’m pressing the reset button. The illness took a lot out of me, so I feel like I am almost starting from scratch. The first few rides back were a huge shock to the system. The effort level on my first run back felt like the pace should have been 20 seconds/km faster than it ended up being. Near the end of the first week the good sensations started to come back a little bit, through the middle of this week I struggled a little bit but made it through well enough, and it was only this weekend that I finally felt like an elite athlete again. 7 hours on the bike and 40km of running is on the low end for me, but there was a lot more intensity on the bike than I’m used to and hey…it’s the best quality week than I’ve been able to put together since last season. As far as I’m concerned, everything at the end of 2014 was just “base”, and real training kicked off last week. Fresh start, new leaf.

On Wednesday I’ll see where I am, as I have a threshold test on the schedule. I’ll be trying out my new tri bike configuration in its first big test since I did the final tweaks, and I’m kind of excited to see where I am again. The part of testing that is absolutely fascinating for me is the unknown…that feeling of not knowing whether you’re in for a surprise or not. I guess we will see on Wednesday!

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

A blog shout out to the first one who can spot the 4 differences. And a prize to the savvy eye who can spot the 5th difference! (Hint: it is a variation on one of the other 4 differences). Wheel differences don't count...that upgrade is still to come! Here is a shot of the original set-up.

A blog shout out to the first one who can spot the 4 differences. And a prize to the savvy eye who can spot the 5th difference! (Hint: it is a variation on one of the other 4 differences). Wheel differences don’t count…that change is still to come! Neither do bar tape and bottle cages…I expect better of my readers ;)! Here is a shot of the original set-up.

New Partnership – Skechers Performance Canada

I would like to take this opportunity, just before New Year’s, to announce my first new partnership for next season. I am excited to be joining the Skechers Performance Elite Team in 2015. This has been in the works for several months, but I can now finally say that I am excited to be joining teammate Mikael Staer Nathan on the Elite Team, and the Ignition Fitness squad as a whole in Skechers running shoes next year. I am excited to be working with this innovative company, and I look forward to repaying the faith with results in 2015. I have also proudly added the Skechers logo to my Sponsor logo sidebar, and to my Sponsors page. Check it out!

Skechers Performance

The journey started with a conversation with sales rep Nick Resch at the Toronto Triathlon Festival. Shortly after, I got my hands on a couple pairs of GORun shoes (the GOMeb Speed 2’s and some Nite Owl GORun Ultra’s), and immediately fell in love. Through every phase of the process, I was impressed with how engaged and invested everyone I talked to was with making the jump of Skechers into the performance footwear market a success. Indeed, Skechers Performance is for real.

I raced in the flats at Lakeside, and have been using the Ultra’s for the bulk of my mileage since the season ended; so far I have enjoyed both. The GOMeb’s were the closest feel I have ever had to my beloved Type A5 flats, and I actually prefer the natural last of the Meb’s to the more traditional build of the A5’s. It promotes a much more natural midfoot strike that lends itself excellently to short course speed. The complaint I have always had about the Saucony flat was the traditional feel of it; at times, I felt like it was guiding my foot in a way that was not natural, rather than letting it do what it wants. So far, I have not noticed the same thing with the Meb’s.

GOMebSpeed

I’ve also really enjoyed my mileage in the Ultra’s. They are much wider in the toe box than I am used to, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the feel. I had the same complaints about my Mirage’s and Ride’s as I did with the Type A5’s: when I got tired, I found that they “guided” my feet in an unnatural motion more than I wanted. I haven’t found this with the Ultra’s yet, though admittedly I have not done a 75-90 minute long run in them. I do really like the feel of the last, and they are light enough that I wouldn’t hesitate to wear them for a long progression or tempo run that dips down below 4:00/km. As an added bonus, the lugs on the tread have been great in tricky terrain!

GORunUltra

I am really looking forward to getting into the 2015 line of GORun Performance footwear. The new GORun 4 is completely redesigned, and has been favourably compared to the incredibly popular Kinvara 5. I’m also excited about the update to the GOMeb’s…some combination of these will likely make up my race footwear next year. Hopefully I can get into some of the GOBionic Trail shoes as well…I always shy away from trail running after a bad experience slipping on some mud in ill-equipped shoes, but I love to get muddy once in awhile. 2015 should be a great year, and I’ll be doing my running in Skechers for all of it. Go like never before, and have a fast day!

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

The State of Duathlon in Ontario

Duathletes (and triathletes),

Much has been said on various social media about the tardiness of important announcements regarding provincial and national duathlon championships. Most of them center around either the difficulty in planning a season when these dates are not established well in advance, or around a perceived “lack of respect” shown to duathletes. I too fight the same battles, and feel similarly slighted when a new national championship date pops up in April or May. However, consider an alternative explanation, and take a look at two scenarios this past year that highlight the other side of this issue:

The Triathlon Canada championship schedule was announced well in advance (January), but did not include a duathlon national championship. That particular announcement did not come until March (or May for the sprint race)…likely because there were simply no locations bidding to host the championships. Yes, it was a debacle, but the result was slow registration and a poorly attended national championship. To add icing to the cake, the organizing committee chose not to renew the duathlon for 2015 (as was the case in 2012/2013 at TTF).

The second scenario was the release of the Triathlon Ontario championship schedule. Again, announced well in advance (January) and this time INCLUDED a duathlon championship at Lakeside. True, the original date was changed from mid-August to mid-September for reasons beyond our control. However, we were given options by the hosts, and Lakeside remained. We pushed the race hard on Duathlon Central and on social media for months, and even managed to convince MultiSport Canada to let us do live coverage for the event. This was essentially the ideal situation for duathletes with regards to provincial championship exposure. And the result was…slow registration and a poorly attended provincial championship.

The above represents two very different scenarios with very similar results. As an organizer, that would signal to me that there is quite a bit of risk involved with bidding for a duathlon championship. Unless a very specific set of conditions are met, the reality is that there is a very good chance of less than 50 athletes showing up to a championship race. Hence the difficulty finding a willing host for a duathlon championships! It is a brutal catch 22, as duathletes feel they should not be expected to re-arrange other commitments to attend events with announcements coming as late as they do, and organizers do not feel they can justify the expense and extra work of preparing a bid without some more assurance that the event will be a success. So we are left with some options:

1. Keep doing what we are doing. Minimize risk, sign up a week or two in advance and hit the races that are closeby. With the uncertainty involved for big events, it is definitely hard to rationalize several rearrangements to your schedule as the announcements trickle in. And trying to guess the dates is about as sure of a thing as Russian Roulette! Alas, if we continue on the same path, the catch 22 continues. Race directors often already have their minds made up before raceday registration. Signing up the day of often doesn’t do more than salvaging the event for one more season. Getting more races or amenities? We can probably forget it. Stagnant growth may be better than decline…but not by much. The vicious circle will continue.

2. Take charge. Registration is open, or opening very soon, for most of the races on the schedule. Pre-registration shows commitment and leaves an excellent impression in the minds of race directors. A good pre-registration, or several in a row, can save a race indefinitely. A strong pre-registration takes the guesswork out of an RD’s job, as bib numbers can be ordered, and t-shirt, award and food orders can be firmed up to reduce waste. This puts their mind at ease when it comes to big and potentially expensive decisions…like putting in a championship bid.

3. Head to some new locations that offer what you want if you have to. I understand this is not always possible for those with families and commitments but regardless, a championship loses relevance if a race organization is laying out the resources to cover the costs of a championship, only for a mainly local field to show up. If race directors see athletes willing to travel to races to get what they want, they may be more willing to put in that bid…knowing that they will see a truly national or provincial field as part of the return on their investment. Fair or not, if we’re not willing to go out of market for championship races, then we risk losing them for good.

4. SPREAD THE WORD. Do you have friends who are runners but are looking for a new challenge? Why not turn them on to duathlon? I have never understood why duathlon isn’t more popular relative to triathlon, despite having only two sports to train and eliminating the most logistically challenging! If every duathlete brings a friend who wants a new challenge, or one who is intrigued by triathlon but just doesn’t have the time to spare to get to the pool, then we double the numbers of every race. New blood is just another way of showing RD’s that we are committed to making our sport sustainable!

And triathletes…why not try out a duathlon once or twice next year? A full schedule can be found here. Such a fuss is made about races where you have to get wet, but what about one where you do not? No fiddling with wetsuits, goggles, water temperatures, sand and frenetic swim starts. Just a simple RUN-BIKE-RUN, and the need to truck half the amount of stuff to a race that you normally do. Sure, the first run makes the rest of the race tough…but in a sport where the pinnacle is Ironman, isn’t challenge what we are all looking for? Duathlons can make great rust busters before that first tri, fun season finales once the water cools off too much, and an excellent change of pace in the middle of a long season. Come join us once in awhile, we don’t bite!

5. OR…we can all learn to swim. Just kidding. Sort of.

As much as we would like to be held on the same level as triathlon, the reality is that triathletes get the things that duathletes want because they have the numbers to back it up. The risk of hosting a championship that exists with duathlon does not with triathlon, because hosts of triathletes will travel to Magog, Edmonton or Toronto to race a championship event. They know the race will sell out, or close to it, which eliminates a lot of the risk of not getting a return on their investment. It may take time, but change takes time. The options above are just the first steps.

The powers that be and the organizations that care are willing to work with us.There have been rumblings and discussions among the big names in the sport (*cough* notably absent was Trisport Canada *cough*) to discuss the state of duathlon in Ontario. Duathlon is a sport that is steeped in multisport history, and they want to get there again, just as much as we want to. We need to convince the race organizations that we are willing to do what it takes to generate a return on their investment…that the next big star in multisport might just be a duathlete…that the next can’t-miss race on the calendar could be a duathlon. We are very spoiled to have race organizations like Multisport Canada who do so much for such a small community. Not many race organizations would stick to their guns and continue to put on events that draw 40 people, but they do. I’m not sure about you, but I think it is about time that we return the favour and step out of the large shadow cast by triathlon. Help resurrect this great sport.

Yours in run/bike/run,

 

A Duathlete and Passionate Duathlon Enthusiast

“Success isn’t owned it is leased…and rent is due every day”

Quote from JJ Watt, defensive lineman for the Houston Texans

The first snowfall in Hamilton has come and gone. Since my last update I haven’t been up to much of anything new, but as that fresh layer of snow fell to the ground, so too did I start fresh on this journey that I have undertaken.

First Snowfall

2014 was generally good to me. I won some races, had some new experiences, made some new friends, and generally got to watch the sport of duathlon take a small step forward as we try to get the sport out of the increasingly large shadow of big brother Triathlon. It was incredibly enjoyable and rewarding to watch Duathlon Central grow and see the community get behind it and generate some awesome discussion. Armed with this, we can move forward and hopefully influences some change for the better in our sport!

But you came to this page to hear me ramble about me and what I have been up to! I’ve been chipping away, spending the last few months catching up on all of those areas of life that lag during the summer season. My last two months of training have been a mixture of “completely off”, “unstructured” and most of all…”fun”. Over the past few years of hard, long, grinding duathlon seasons, I have discovered that I have a need following the season to spend some time “playing duathlon”.

Sydenham

“Playing duathlon” atop the Sydenham Rd climb in Dundas

I hang my TT bike up on the wall and ride my road bike, display nothing except distance and time on my bike computer, stash my Garmin in my pocket while running to run otherwise gadgetless, and spent some time training for the pure enjoyment of it. I had a ton of fun with my road bike, rode some routes that I tend to avoid during the season, ran as fast or slow as I felt like, and generally trained when I wanted to. Physically, I may not have needed the rest, but I find that doing this is the best way to get myself recharged mentally and excited to train hard again.

However, now that I have had my fun, it is time for brass tacks. The road bike has replaced the TT bike up on the wall for a little while, and the “pain cave” is open for business once again. 2015 is a make or break season for me, and I will be leaving no stone unturned this offseason as I continue to pursue my professional ambitions in the sport of duathlon…the theme of 2015 is “Marginal Gains”. Tentatively (things can change on the slightest whim in duathlon), I have targeted “A” races in early June (USAT Duathlon Championships, Standard/Sprint double) and late September (Esprit Montreal and possibly Powerman Michigan). The rest of my race plan is TBD until the schedule firms up, hopefully sometime in early 2015. Additionally, I have the following, non-race specific goals:

Pain Cave Motivation

Pain cave motivation

  1. Seek out some new races, challenges and competition: I would like to try some new races in 2015. K-Town, Gravenhurst and Wasaga are MSC races that I would like to give a shot, while Cornwall and Esprit highlight ideal non-MSC races. Venturing to new places also means taking on some new competition.
  2. Diversify my training regimen: There are only so many ways you can arrange duathlon training to keep it fresh. I’ll ride my road bike, and perhaps I will join a group ride once a week or have Emma teach me to do yoga. And I hear that swimming is a wonderful method of active recovery…
  3. Once and for all, destroy all notions of any perceived “weakness on the bike”: Despite two years of focused training and steady improvement, the fact remains that my strong run still makes up for a bike leg that is lacking, and can barely be called FOP in deep races.

I plan to address this weak point with a three-pronged approach:

Yes thats a disc cover on my trainer...I am using my indoor time to test aero bento packs, saddles and electrical tape!

Yes that is a disc cover on my trainer…I am using my indoor time to test aero bento packs, saddles and electrical tape!

  1. Continued improvements in cycling fitness: Many hours in the pain cave watching Netflix await over the next few months to make this a priority, as there are still gains to be made. I will also likely keep my targeted workouts indoors on the trainer throughout the season to closely monitor and dial in my effort.
  2. Leaving no stone unturned: Hand-in-hand with fitness goes smart equipment choices. Speed can be bought in cycling, and with resident aero-weenies Cody Beals and Phil McCatty just a text or Facebook message away, I really have no excuse to be running a bike set-up that is not 100% optimized.
  3. Use others to up my “suffer threshold”: While I can thrash myself on the run, I have a hard time doing the same on the bike. After hearing from fellow athletes of how they have benefited from riding with others, I plan to creatively plan my workouts to seek out like-minded others from time to time.

Many gains are to be had for those who reach out and take it. The winter offseason is an opportunity, not an obstacle, and I intend to come out of it an entirely different racer, chomping at the bit at every start line I toe in 2015.

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.