triathlon and family can mix

Posts tagged “run

Sprains, Strains, and Automobiles

One week to go.


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).


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?


Sounded Like a Good Idea at the Time

Stairs. Oh so many stairs.


I mentioned earlier this week that I have had a couple of back-to-back less than stellar runs. I couldn’t figure out what was going on; am I losing run fitness as my volume hasn’t peaked over 2 hours yet, do I need some rest, or do I need to switch things up from the usual routes?

Many questions, little answers.

After rescheduling my run to Wednesday as I had a business lunch, I decided to to switch up my workout from the 45min EM that I had planned to a 45min EM with stairs. I was stoked that I had come up with an awesome idea that would get my run training back on track. So I headed out on the 10th street loop for a warm up (~3km) and made 5 ascents of the legendary McHugh Bluff stairs.

Now if you don’t live in Calgary, McHugh Bluff is just north of Downtown separating the Bow River Valley from Crescent Heights. 167 stairs later and you are at the top, gasping for air but enjoying the view.

The first 2 sets I hit each stair on the up and felt pretty good, not taking too much time before I headed down. The next 2 I doubled up and the last set was a challenge to get to the top without stopping. Partly because I was tired, but mostly because there was a couple of gals walking side-by-side. The last set I hit each stair and took a good break before turning around to head home.

Here is my GPS track.


A couple of notes:

1. The elevation tracking is a bit off. There is no big hill on the warm up lap, or it wouldn’t really be a warm up lap would it?
2. My heart rate doesn’t match with the elevation. I can assure you that I didn’t peak half way up each time.
3. I stopped a little early as my shoe lace came untied, again. I need to figure that out.

I think it worked, getting me out of my funk I mean. On the way home, I took the track as my warm up and noticed that I was striding pretty decent and my pace was right were I want it to be.

The part about it being a good idea, yeah, my calf’s and quad’s are saying this morning that I should have just stuck with the usual loop. The only way to navigate a flight of stairs right now is to go backwards.

No better way to loosen them up than a good old 45 minute distance swim hey?

Question: How do you get out of a training funk?

Ironman 70.3 Calgary

Hometown race baby.


I registered yesterday morning. I was on the fence even though I wanted to pull the trigger on another Ironman 70.3 race in 2014. Why is that?

Why do we want to do something so bad, then when time comes to put up or shut up, we do nothing?

Anyways, hanging in the training pool between our 100m and 400m time trials (more on that in a future post) I chatted with a fellow triathlete that swims with me in lane 3. He asked if I had registered knowing that I participated a couple of years ago. He also mentioned that they expect it to sell out by the weekend. Crap, no more hesitation.

I got into the office and pulled the trigger. Not sure what the wife is gonna say….

The raced has changed; the swim and bike courses were amended in 2013 as the floods rendered the swim course unsafe on race day and I guess the race directors liked the revised course. They have revised it again this year to follow the 2013 race course with a different swim venue. I am not complaining, swimming in a man made lake will be a lot warmer than swimming in Ghost Dam (water temp was 14 degrees Celsius in 2012).

The bike course follows a couple of popular training routes so it should be easy to head out in May and June to get a good feel on the road ; the one of many benefits of a hometown race. It is a tad short at 87.5km, but I reckon that makes up for it being long by 4km in 2012. In my opinion, it is easier than the old course albeit more technical with a potential, good potential, for some decent head wind on the first 35km.

You scared of wind? I’m not.

The run course remains unchanged, and that is a good thing. North/South Glenmore park is great run with some decent up and downhill sections. This is what attracts most competitors; the challenge of the run course.

I actually feel a little nostalgic that without any planning, I participated in the last race on the old course. It was a great ride with some awesome scenery and speed. I am even going to miss that big climb out of the river valley in Cochrane. Really, did I just say that?

So here is to Ironman 70.3 Calgary 2014 edition. I am looking forward to it.

Question: Do you hesitate to register for a race? Why?

Long Course Triathlon

Steppin’ up.


I struggle with the prospect each year of stepping up to the next distance. In 2013 I participated in Olympic distance races and enjoyed each and every one; in 2014, I plan on racing mostly Ironman 70.3. Why is there this desire to keep increasing the distance? Like my wife has pointed out, increasing distance is just increasing the time you suffer out there.

So it got me thinking, dangerous right? In every triathletes mind, is it a question of not if, but when you will sign up for Ironman?

I know a lot of triathletes who’s first ever triathlon was Ironman (now Challenge) Penticton. Some have gone on to finish in multiple years, and some have left the sport all together.

With the prospect of racing in what can arguably be called the toughest endurance event in the world the rewards are huge. There is obviously the bragging rights that come along with crossing the finish line and the satisfaction of fulfilling a goal that you set more than likely a year prior.

There are also the fringe benefits like getting into great shape, changing your view on nutrition, and meeting other triathletes during the journey. Then there is the gear, oh the gear. Having an upcoming race gives you the excuse to buy things you never could justify before.

I have said it before, and I will say it again; a long course triathlon seems daunting to me.

I could handle the swim, actually I think that I would really enjoy it. With that many people on the beach I think it would be an absolute riot to swim toward the first buoy knocking elbows, knees, and feet with the racers around me. The bike doesn’t scare me either; it is all about consistency. Get in the saddle, keep your effort level in check, and eat/drink as much as you can. I could see myself getting a little bored toward the end, but then again, I can’t swim a 400m set without losing count. Some kind of A.D.H.D. I reckon.

The run scares the crap out of me. I ran a couple of half marathons last winter, and I was pretty happy to cross the finish line. I couldn’t imagine turning around and doing it again, let alone coming off the bike. I am not the best runner, but I consider myself to be pretty decent and it still scares me.

I reckon it boils down to something I said to the triage nurse after I crashed; go hard or go home. Endurance athletes are kind of an all or nothing kinda group; give us a challenge and come hell or high water, we will not only finish but do it with a smile on our faces. We will train smart, fuel even smarter, and prepare weeks ahead of the actual race. We will live and breathe it.

Oh, and there is not a single event outside of the Badwater Ultra Marathon that embodies the go hard or go home mentality more than Ironman.

Not that I am going to sign up for Ironman anytime soon. The training hours are way to much for the family right now, and besides, I am enjoying where I am at right now. If it aient broke, don’t fix it right?

Question: Was your first race Ironman? If so, first of all, awesome; second of all, why?

Recap – Week 41

Theme of the week? Recovery.


Swim – 2:00:00 – 5050m
Bike – 0:45:00 – 25.26km
Run – 0:33:13 – 6.87km

Total – 3:18:33

Not the good kind of recovery, like after a great training block or a race where you gave it your all, but the phlegm producing, I’m almost better kind of recovery. I haven’t been this sick for a long time. Typically I can kick a cold or flu to the curb in about 3 days and be none worse for the wear, but this one stuck around for a while.

I was able to get on the trainer Friday night for the first time this fall. Exciting right? Well, actually it wasn’t all that bad. One thing I found in addition to the five points for pro trainer in my post, To Ride or Not to Ride, is that the trainer will show you very quickly any problems with your mechanics. You can hear instantly when you have a choppy pedal turnover and make adjustments on the fly to correct the problem. I also like the power readings; I don’t ride with a power meter for a couple reasons, cost being the first and foremost.

I also got out Sunday night for a run at about 2030; I forgot how great it is to run under the stars. It was a great run and I returned home a little quicker than anticipated. I thought about heading out for a another loop, but having a whopping total of 0km the previous week, I figured a good 30 minutes a great start to getting back into things.

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Ironman World Championship went this weekend, and from what I saw and read, it was a great race. I know a couple of age groupers who qualified at Ironman Wisconsin about a month back, and I am secretly a little jealous. It would be an experience and a half to line up at Kona with arguably the best triathletes on arguably the toughest course in the world.

Case in point: Mirinda Carfrae dominates the run and finishes with a course record. Not only that, I only count two faster run splits all day from the entire field. Being around this excellence has to rub off doesn’t it?

I could use a little of that run speed.

Question: Did you tune in race day? What are your thoughts?

How Far I Have Come

My name is Steve, and I suck at running.


Less than 3 years ago, I finished a 5k run. I spent the next 6 weeks in rehab. I had decided a week prior that I wanted to compete in a triathlon later that year. Not sure what really got me on the triathlon kick (pun intended) but I needed to figure out a couple of things.

Can I swim? Check.

Can I bike? Did it as a kid, check.

Can I run? Nope.

Like always, I went head first. I ended up with a muscle imbalance in my quad. It was pulling on my knee cap, causing crazy pain every time I bent my leg. Frustrating to no end. My physio, who is a life saver by the way, recommended that I take a look at my foot strike, and implement a run-walk training plan for up to 8 weeks. More on my progression from a heel striker to a mid-foot striker in a future post.

I took his advice, mixing in swimming, biking, and yoga. It took a while to get to a point where I could run a full 5k without stopping for a walk interval; at some points I felt like progression was moving backwards. I trusted him, and was able to start a high intensity training plan 8 weeks ahead of my first sprint distance. Finished 2nd in my age group.

Fast forward to last year, 2012. I am now hooked on this triathlon thing and laying down some pretty decent performances. I finished top 10 in my age group at my last race last year and completed my first Ironman 70.3. Not bad for breaking my collar bone in a bike crash May 26.

I spent the winter season working on my base fitness with the specific goal of increasing my run speed. Check out this post, or this one, for a detailed description of what I was doing. It was hard work at times, especially in mid winter running on Saturday evenings outside. The dark combined with the cold made for some miserable runs. I continued on in spite of the conditions and now I am running faster than I had planned.

Here is how some of the results stack up.

Sprint Distance (5k Run)
Lake Chaparral – 8/2011 – 27:36 (5:32/km)
Airdrie – 5/2013 – 21:52 (4:23/km)

Olympic Distance (10k Run)
Lake Chaparral – 8/2012 – 48:59 (4:54/km)
Chinook Triathlon Festival – 6/2013 – 45:10 (4:31/km)

Now that is what I am talking about.

I am really happy with my progress. I am dangerously close to achieving my goal for this year of breaking 2:15:00 at the Lake Chaparral Olympic Distance; based on last years results, this puts me on the podium for my age group. If I can sneak a couple of extra minutes, I would be on the podium for the overall results. Before you say “that was last year dude”, I know that everyone ahead of me was training over the winter with the same goal I had, getting faster. I just have to believe that my training is far superior.

We will find out in a couple of months.

Question: How have you progressed from season to season? What have you done to get there?


“I love all three sports, I couldn’t pick my favorite.”


Liar, eveyone has a favorite.

As I looked out the window on Sunday morning at freezing rain coming down, contemplating if I should head out the door, I thought to myself ‘I really don’t like running, especially in less than ideal weather’. I reserved my run for later that evening, alas on the treadmill, even worse.

Triathlon provides alot of variety; three sports, different gear for each, nutrition, and race strategy just to name a few. This in one of the main reasons why I love this sport. If I had to bike 5 days a week, I would go crazy. Not too mention running; I think I would be a couch potato if that was case.

It did make me think though, what is it about the three sports that I like so much?  What is my favorite?

I typically don’t hesitate to pull on the Speedo (sorry for the visual), grab my paddles, and head to the lane for a workout. I enjoy the opportunity to be with my thoughts and air bubbles for an hour. It gives me time to think about everything from life changes to singing my favorite song. Only one problem, I can’t keep track of my laps past 400m because my mind wanders off.

Going fast is what it is all about. Biking is awesome, you can head out on the road and over the course of 40km, you can experience more than you can with any other sport. My typical routes take me through the rural country side of Southern Alberta, which can be amazing, and by amazing I mean great views with wind.

And every roadie/triathlete, at least everyone I have met, digs bikes.

I am not a huge fan of running, never have, never will. When I started this whole triathlon thing, I didn’t run. I didn’t run track or long distance in Junior High or High school; man I wish I did. Mind you, I have come to like it over the last two years. By working on my foot strike and evening out muscle imbalances in my lower body, I have eliminated injury while increasing both distance and speed.

I have read many times that you can’t win a race on the swim, but you certainly lose it. So I needed to focus on it over the last two winter seasons, increasing my efficiency and speed.

My favorite sport? Swimming. It may be that of the three, I am the best at it, but I think it has more to do with the fact that my daughter is a fish as well. We really enjoy leaving mom at home, heading to the pool, and acting like a couple of kids. Easier for me than her sometimes. We do get some disapproving looks while we are having a cannon ball competition, but hey, who cares. Right?

In the future, once we can bike more than 500m without stopping, biking may become my favorite.

Question: What is your favorite sport? Why?