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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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Recap – Week 50

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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Recap – Week 50

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?

Racing Instead of Training

12 days and counting.

countdown

Swim – 2:30:00 (p) – 2:10:00 (a) – 5950m
Bike – 5:45:00 (p) – 4:24:23 (a) – 120.08km
Run – 3:00:00 (p) – 2:45:01 (a) – 33.11km
Race – 1:10:00 (p) – 1:13:34 (a) – 25.75km

Total – 11:15 (p) – 10:32:58 (a)

This week was my highest training volume, probably not the best week to schedule a sprint distance triathlon, but hey, who doesn’t like to race?

I really suck at changing my training schedule to fit in a unscheduled event. I get stuck on “things have to go where they have to go” so this week threw a wrench into my plans. No worries though, I was able to get in the bulk of my training sessions, the prescribed intervals, and still have a great race.

Again, don’t fret, the race report is on the way.

Taking down a 1:15 Negative Split and both 1:20 and 1:30 with Fartlek Intervals (5x3min) after my Friday morning swims has given me a lot of confidence. This is one place in my training that I lack, confidence on the run. Am I ready for a Ironman 70.3? Sure. Am I ready to push hard at an Ironman 70.3? Not even close.

I can hang with the power bikers; you know the guys, all quads and calves. Put my next to a runner and I don’t stand a chance. Well I think some of that is changing as I came away with the second fastest run on the day yesterday.

Ah progress.

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Wind, Flats, and Hills
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Finally, the Weekend is Upon Us

With less than 2 weeks now until Escape From Alcatraz, my first race is under my belt, I am feeling pretty relaxed.

The only concern I have is water temperature. I like to get in the water, warm up (literally and figuratively), the get prepared to do battle. In Alcatraz, no such thing as a warm up. It is just off the boat and swim like you stole something.

So this week I am going to grab my wetsuit, head down to the river, and go for a swim. The water temperature may be colder than the bay but I reckon it can’t hurt.

Think of it as a swimming treadmill.

Question: Have you tried swimming in a river? Any thoughts.

Wind, Flats, and Hills

Another week down and not many left…

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Swim – 2:15:00 (p) – 2:15:00 (a) – 5400m
Bike – 5:15:00 (p) – 5:05:58 (a) – 125.37km
Run – 2:40:00 (p) – 2:30:21 (a) – 31.07km

Total – 10:10:00 (p) – 9:51:19 (a)

That is a wrap on week 5 of the CTS Half Ironman plan, and other than missing the total time for the week, training has been going great. Now I have a legit excuse for why I am short.

Tuesday mornings are usually a bike-run brick. They started pretty easy with a 60min EM ride with a 15min ER. No problem. This week, the plan was a 1:30EM (7x2min PI; 3min RBI)) with a 20min ER. About 1:05 into my bike my dog comes barreling down the stairs, and when he is awake, so are the girls. 5 minutes later my daughter comes down and here is the conversation:

S: “Dad, how long do you have left, I want to play”
Me: “About 40 minutes kiddo.”
S: “Okay, I’ll just play by myself until you are done.”
2 minutes later
S: “Has it been long enough yet?”
Me: “Not yet. Did you want to get some breakfast first?”
S: “Nope, I’ll just wait.”
5 minutes later
S: “Aren’t you done yet?”
Me: “Alright, I will stop my bike and go for a quick run. Can you wait another 10 minutes?”
S: “Okay.”

She asked an additional 3 times when I was going to be done. She gets her patience from my wife and her time telling skills from me.

I headed for a long bike ride on Saturday morning; 2:45 EM planned. It was a great ride for the first long one of the season. The wind really slowed my down heading west, even keeping my speed below 70km/hr heading down into Cochrane. About 50k into the ride I heard a loud clang, the sound of a rock being shot into the ditch from my tire. I apologized to my bike promising not to hit any more rocks like that. Well, apparently it was too-little-too-late as I looked down at a flat tire.

I swapped tubes and took the opportunity for a “comfort break” and a snack before I got going again. I was pretty happy with myself as it took about 5 minutes to get my tire swapped; a good skill to have but one you hope you don’t use very often.

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Finally, The Weekend is Upon Us

I have read all three of Tim Ferris’ books; I have referenced ‘The Four Hour Body’ a lot on my blog. Well I just used some advice from his first book, ‘The Four Hour Workweek.’

He talks about people in your life that don’t add anything positive, or even worse, add negativity. Well, this morning I had coffee booked with a group of Brothers that was arranged by one of them. I showed up at the coffee shop only to realize that the meeting time and place had changed, by 30 minutes and 6 blocks. Not a small change.

This isn’t the first time this individual has done something like this, so I decided after grabbing my coffee solo, that it was about time to cut this relationship.

Tim (we are on first name basis) recommends talking with them and explaining the situation, not taking no for an answer. In this case, I am going to take the other road and just stop communication. Just like that.

Question: Thoughts? Should I put my big boy pants on and chat with him?

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