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Getting Paid To Race

Actually, most of the time, you have to win to get paid.

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My twitter feed blew up a couple of weeks ago with #IMLP7th; a publicly funded cash prize for the 7th place finisher at Ironman Lake Placid. The campaign raised $6000, paying the 7th place finisher in both the mens and womens races more than 3rd.

See, Ironman only payed 6 deep at Lake Placid; a total of $25,000. Some people feel this is unfair, albeit, mostly professional triathletes.

While down in San Francisco for Escape from Alcatraz, I came to a realization that race organizers only care about us age groupers for one reason; entry fees. The USAT representative made that abundantly clear by telling us to “stay out of the way of the professionals, they play by different rules.” I finished 30 minutes behind the winner at that race, and when I crossed the line the announcer was still talking about how Andy Potts won and his amazing swim. His interest in the race had already faded.

This year, with the exception of my first race, professionals have been there competing. Honestly, I really could have cared less that they were there. As a participant I don’t get the opportunity to interact with a professional triathlete, except maybe at the “meet the pros” event. As a spectator, you may see them once or twice while they pass. Big whoop.

To become a professional triathlete has to take a lot of dedication and determination. I appreciate that. The time it takes to compete at the highest level in any sport, more specifically three sports, is larger than I could even start to imagine.

Most will also argue that they have to hold down full time jobs to supplement their income because the sponsorships, either product or salary, don’t cover all of their expenses. Again, I appreciate that.

What about the age grouper? Pretty sure we are in the same boat.

Right, so the point I am trying to make is this; I choose my career. Sure, a portion of that choice circled around enjoying what I do, but the bulk of it circled around my ability to provide for myself and those dependent on me. If my career was no longer paying the bills, than I would be hunting for another one that could.

So to the professional triathlete; good on ya, you are living the dream most age groupers envy. Just don’t complain about how much money you make, because compared to how much I have made in my triathlon career, I am pretty sure you win.

Question: What are your thoughts? Would you take the job?

To state, I think the way Ironman dealt with the #IMLP7th was less than professional, that is if you believe everything you read on the internet. Not to recap it in this post, Google it if you want the full story.

Where Have You Been?

So it has been a little while.

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Alright, it has been a long while since I last wrote. Hey, sometimes life gets busy and things fall off the turnip truck. Between training for Ironman 70.3 Calgary, travelling for business, and vacation with the family I have been going non-stop for the better part of 8 weeks.

Bummer? Not really.

You want a real bummer? Race an Ironman 70.3 and realize 4km into the bike leg that your timing chip is no longer attached to your leg. Technically I DNS (Did Not Start) but my hamstrings had something to say about that.

Despite falling short of my goal of sub 5 hours by a whole 12 minutes, I had a great race. My swim was great, coming out of the water in 27:58 (1:28/100m) and my bike was fast as well; 2:35:45 (33.9km/hr). The run is where I died; a 2:03:01 (5:50min/km) run split is no better than I did 2 years ago. I wonder what happened, I figured my fitness was better than that and I could target a 1:50 run split.

Ah well, this is why I do this thing called triathlon; go past that point of failure, figure out where your weakness’ are, then fix em’.

Summer is only 1/3 over, my race season is completely over, and the off season begins. I echo Dave here a little bit saying that it is kinda weird that off-season is already here.

I have decided that a year off from the triathlon world is what I need right about now. I was feeling really tired, and to be honest a little bored over the last couple of weeks leading to Ironman 70.3 Calgary. My motivation lacked even though I finished all of the training sessions as planned (duration and intensity). I was really just hoping for a day off.

So the rest of the summer is dedicated to giving back to the sport which I have enjoyed over the past 4 years. My little one races in the Lake Chaparral Kids of Steel this weekend and I will volunteer the following day at the grown-up race.

Oh, and of course, racking up a crap load of km’s on my road bike.

What lies ahead in 2015 you ask? I have no idea.

Question: Have you taken a year off? What did you do instead?

Cold Water, Hills, and Stairs

It is Sunday morning. It is 0300. What am I doing up? Right, in a couple of hours I am going to voluntarily jump off a boat and swim across the San Francisco Bay.

Awesome.

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I arrived in transition at about 0415 and it was pretty empty. I was lucky enough to be close to the bike in/out and close to the overhead lights so I could kinda see what I was doing. I felt for the guys at the back with nothing but their iPhone lights for company.

I got on the boat around 0500, opting to not leave it to chance as the boat would leave with or without you at 0630 (they actually left on guy on the dock). I chatted with some fellow racers, grabbed a 15 minute nap, and readied for the start.

The swim start can only be described one way; organized chaos. The gates open, and the swimmer start firing off the boat. 1900 swimmers in 6 minutes. Organized chaos.

Some dude hit me as I was coming to the surface, but it must have been his hand or arm as it didn’t hurt much. I swam towards the left for the first bit to get a feel for the current. I wasn’t as bad as anticipated, so I adjusted my aim to the right heading for the beach. Came out of the water in a perfect position.

The mini run to transition is kinda funny; some opt for shoes and some go barefoot. I was in the latter group. The pavement didn’t suck, I run midfoot anyways, but he tall grass in transition didn’t feel good on the top of the toes as my feet came forward.

The first 2 miles of the bike are flat, and that is it. I am glad that I hammered a lot of hills and intervals throughout the winter and spring sessions as I was one of the stronger climbers around me. It was either up or down, some hills steeper than others, and with a couple of hairpin turns at the bottom of the descents, all my momentum was gone for the next climb.

The view on the bike is exceptional. To a flat lander like myself, being able to ride through The Presidio, Lands End, and Golden Gate Park is not only one of the highlights from the race, but my triathlon career.

Coming home there was a rough patch on Lincoln Hwy and some dude was on the pavement. I didn’t see the crash but it didn’t look good. Felt bad for him a little, but we were warned about taking chances on the downhills.

Just like the bike, the first 2 miles of the run is flat, but that is pretty much it apart from a stretch on beach, but that doesn’t count. Everyone always talks about the sand ladder; a steep stair case that takes you up off of Baker Beach. Yeah, well no one mentions that first stair case. I wasn’t prepared for that one.

The run was good, although my stomach by this point was turning bad; remnants of a stomach flu I picked up the week earlier. I pushed as hard as I could despite the stomach and crossed the finish line strong.

Swim – 2400m – 36:34 – 167/1586
Bike – 29km – 1:00:29 – 279/1586
Sand Ladder – 3:52 – 1035/1586
Run – 12.8km – 1:06:19 – 520/1586

Total – 2:52:13 – 276/1586

A volunteer put my finisher medal around my neck, and at that point I noticed that what I thought was a little irritation from my wetsuit was worse than I thought. Man, it hurt for days.

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So the race was a crap load of fun. I was able to swim from Alcatraz, something not many people have the opportunity to do, and I raced to the best of my ability. Sure I could have been a little faster if my stomach wasn’t so messed up, hammered on the bike a little more, or put more time into stairs here in Calgary.

But who cares.

I had a great time, enjoyed myself, and raced in the second coolest town I have ever been to. Sorry San Fran, nothing will beat Calgary in my eyes.

Speedy Gonzalez and the Walk of Shame

Literally.

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Swim – 1:30:00 (p)- 2:15:00 (a) – 6500m
Bike – 2:45:00 (p) – 2:45:45 (a) – 74.50km
Run – 2:00:00 (p) – 1:15:34 (a) – 15.77km

Total – 6:15:00 (p) – 6:16:29 (a)

Back to training after a full week off can be quite a drag, but all-in-all it went pretty good. Friday’s swim was a decent set; by decent I mean a killer. It went like something like this.

Warm Up
400m swim/200m kick/400m drill

Main Set
5x400m swim on 7:00
alternate swim/pull/pull with paddles

Warm Down
100m kick on back
100m swim

With Speedy Gonzalez leading the lane we hit the wall around 5:40 for each set sending most of us (including me) into a drone state by the 4th interval. The set was actually supposed to be 6x400m but both time and enthusiasm ran out.

I skipped my Saturday morning run, sorry, but I have a couple of good reasons. First I have been working on a slight injury to my left foot; nothing that warrants a trip to the physio but I didn’t want to make it worse.

Second I volunteered at the Chinook Triathlon festival; a local race that I did last year and had so much fun at I needed to be part of it again. As I am in the beginning of my build phase from Ironman 70.3 Calgary I couldn’t justify racing at this point, so I volunteered instead. If you haven’t volunteered at a race yet, you need to do it. It was an absolute blast.

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That Was a Cold Race
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I titled this post after the ever popular phrase “walk of shame” for good reason. Tuesday I headed out for my first ride of the season on Fred, my Cervelo P3C. It was cold and I was glad to have my new fleece jersey from Mojo Cycle in San Francisco on.

As I descended into the river valley on my way home the air became noticeably cooler, so I opted to take a route that takes me through the community avoiding not only the valley, but the steep climb out of it.

I came around the corner and I flatted. Now never a problem, I grabbed my spare tube and CO2, and went along changing it. Success. As I hoped on, pedaled for, oh maybe 3m, I hear another hiss. Karma.

Guess I am walking home with my bike on my shoulder. At least I was only 4k from the house.

Question: Ever made the ‘walk of shame?” Do you carry more than one tube and CO2?

That Was a Cold Race

May Long Weekend, who would have figured the weather would be less than ideal?

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Last year it rained in transition, then promptly stopped once the race started and everyone had a good time. This year, the opposite happened.

My swim was uneventful, but I always seem to be slow in the pool; 1:37/100 is not bad, but I was aiming for faster; my training has been sub 1:30/100 most of the year. Alas, it was still the second fastest swim of the day.

Not bad I reckon.

It rained while we were inside so my cycling gear was wet before I got on. It always gets wet anyways so I didn’t worry too much about it. I went barefoot, as I always do, and later regretted it. More later.

The wind was coming out of the east, resulting in a headwind for the first 5k. With a wet body, rain, and a cold wind things started cold and didn’t get any better. I made the turn, headed West toward the final turn hoping for a little help from a tailwind to gain some time.

Why does a headwind never turn into a tailwind?

The rest of the bike was pretty easy as I tried to warm up my toes before the run.

Running on frozen toes sucks; if you were wondering. My pace was great, I felt strong, and I was passing pretty much everyone I set my sights on. I ‘high-fived’ a buddy of mine at 4k, encouraging him to stick with me to the finish line.

Swim – 750m – 12:06 – 1:37/100m – 2/107
Bike – 10k – 39:33 (30.3km/hr) – 5/107
Run – 5k – 21:56 (4:24/km) – 2/107

Finish – 1:13:34 – 3/107

So second year, and a second great result.

I decided this year to ride my road bike, my Argon 18 Krypton, instead of the TT bike as I wanted to get a race with the gear I was bringing down to San Francisco. I probably lost some time on the bike due to this, but again, this was a ‘C’ race. I won’t lose any sleep over it.

All Zeros, and I Aient Talking About Shoes

VACATION.

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Swim – 0:00:00 – 0m
Bike – 0:00:00 – 0km
Run – 0:00:00 – 0km

Total – 0:00:00 – 0km

I know post race weeks are supposed to be about ‘active recovery’ but hagin’ in San Francisco with my family after the race was just to awesome to break up with a run.

That’s right, I swam across the San Francisco bay and lived to tell about it.

Actually, it wasn’t all that difficult. As much as the cold water temperature, potential wildlife, and strong currents are hyped up, it was an enjoyable swim. I even took the chance to turn on my back and take 30 seconds to admire the situation I was in.

Wow, enough about the race. That is what race reports are for.

Speaking of holding on, I reckon I owe you all a couple of overdue posts including Airdrie Sprint Race Report and Drivers v Cyclists. Can’t wait? Neither can I.

So after a full week off, I am ready to get back at it. My performance in Alcatraz gave me the confidence that the CTS Half Ironman plan will get me where I want to go come July 27 at Ironman 70.3 Calgary.

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It is no secret that I dig New Balance shoes, specifically the Minimus Road Zero; they feel like little rocket ships on my feet. After 1490km I have literally run the soles off leaving me with nothing but a search for a new pair.

New Balance changed the design, naming it the Road 10V2. I tired them on and wasn’t overly impressed, though they didn’t have the width I was looking for.

That’s right ladies, big feet…….

I felt I couldn’t cheat on the model that has taken me so far over just shy of 1500km, so I ordered the V2. I just got my first run in this morning, but I will hold on to judgment until I have some more significant km’s under them.

Oh, another post to add to the list.

Question: Do you take full week (or days) off after a race?

Sprains, Strains, and Automobiles

One week to go.

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Swim – 2:30:00 (p) – 2:10:00 (a) – 5800m
Bike – 5:00:00 (p) – 4:48:30 (a) – 133.20km
Run – 2:15:00 (p) – 1:45:02 (a) – 22.30km

Total – 9:45:00 (p) – 8:44:31 (a)

This week was a bit of a mash-up, and not in the horrible ‘Glee’ show-tunes meaning of the word. Racing on Sunday, which is my normal rest day, and the unscheduled rest day on Monday threw a bit a kink into my training plan.

I decided to push Monday through Wednesday ahead a day, catching up with my big days Friday and Saturday.

Everything was going great until my run on Friday, a 60 minute Negative Split (NSR) when I felt some pain in my right achilles around the 15 minute mark. I decided to turn around, head home, and if everything felt alright, head for another lap. Yeah, well one lap it was. So maybe a little rest is needed, but hey, no running until Tuesday on the plan. Hopefully 4 days rest will do it some good.

Wednesday morning was the last of my high intensity days, leaving me pretty stoked; stoked because I am not a huge fan of Fartlek intervals. The plan called for 60min ER – 5x3min FI (3min RBI).

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I lost count and ended up doing 6, no wonder I was gassed by the end. I guess I don’t hate them as much as I say….

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With the great weather where in Calgary over the past month, wait, did I just say ‘nice weather’ and ‘Calgary’ in the same sentence? I digress. I have been able to get out on the road for an early morning ride for the past couple of weeks.

Sure it is cold, and one morning I came home with frozen toes, but I would rather that than ride on the trainer, again. The early morning air and watching the sunrise almost makes up for nearly being run over.

Seriously, I am surprised at some of the risks drivers will take to get ahead of a cyclist. That is another post for another day.

Question: Do you have a love/hate relationship with Fartlek Intervals?

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