triathlon and family can mix

Posts tagged “swim

Don’t You Hate it When Life Gets in the Way?

Oh, I wish that I was a professional triathlete.


Swim – 2:00:00 – 6300m
Bike – 0:00:00 – 0km
Run – 0:30:07 – 5.63km
Strength – 1:30:00

Total – 4:00:07

I have a pretty delicate balance when it comes to fitting training into my daily life. One missed day can really mess a guy up. Take this week for example; day trip to Edmonton Tuesday killed my bike and run, and leaving Friday for a drilling rig killed the rest of the week and the beginning of this week. Not to mention I spent my birthday away from the girls. Boo.

Looking on the positive side, the workouts I did get in the week were awesome; I don’t think that I have swam that hard for a long time. Our workouts on Monday and Wednesday both featured my favourite training tool, fins. Here is our set from Monday.

Warm Up
400m Swim / 200m Kick / 400m Drill
Main Set
4x100m Swim on 1:45
2x200m Swim on 3:30
4x100m Swim on 2:00
1x400m Swim on 7:00
4x100m Swim on 2:00
2x200m Swim on 3:45
Warm Down
100m Swim – Easy

Needless to say I pretty much ate everything I saw for the next 2 days. Our coach, while we resting between the last 2x200m set told us to focus on a hard kick with a good long reach off the wall. The sentiment from the lane, “we are just trying to stay alive.” Enough said.

I squeezed in a run on the treadmill Wednesday night, making up for Tuesday. Intervals were on the menu as my time was limited due to a late bed time for the little one. No matter, the less time I spend there the better.

The sidewalks, pathways, and roads here in Calgary have turned into pure ice. Not the “oops it is a little slippery” kinda ice, I mean the “holy crap I just surfed for 10 feet” kinda ice. I guess this is what we get for having above zero temperatures in January. I chose the treadmill on Wednesday purely for that reason; I didn’t want to go for a ride.

Running in the winter can be treacherous, especially here in Canada. Cold weather, wind, and dark can make for some scary situations. I have compiled a list of do’s and don’ts for winter running in Canada. Stay tuned for that piece of wisdom…..

Top Posts
Ironman Tattoo
Whole 30 – Day 26
Whole 30 – Day 21

I mentioned that I spent the last 4 days in the field, missing not only my birthday, but spending a lot of time away from the girls. Not something that I want to do on a regular basis, but sometimes it comes with the territory. By territory I mean running my own product line with an international company. Not to make myself sound important or anything.

Being away from the normal day-to-day can be refreshing at times, heading into the middle of nowhere in -20 degree weather is not one of those times. I am glad to be back home safe and sound and ready to spend some quality time with my daughter. Strengthening our connection is going to be my top priority over the next 30 days.

So back to normal for the next couple of weeks. As normal as my family is.

Question: Any tips from you on running in the winter?


Recap – Week 4

Steady as she goes.


Swim – 3:00:00 – 7600m
Bike – 2:00:21 – 62.4km
Run – 1:24:17 – 16.7km
Strength – 0:45:00

Total – 7:14:38

Not to run a cliché or quote the Raconteur’s (Jack White rules by the way), I have been pretty consistent with my weekly average. About 7.5 hours is what fits into my schedule and I am okay with it.

Fins have made their way back into our swim workouts and for now, I am okay with it. I saw ‘now’ because my feet have yet to develop blisters, operative word, yet. Either my feet are tougher, I am more efficient with my kick, or my fins fit better. One chap in my lane had to tape his big toe with three layers to fend of the blister after only the second day. That sucks.

Our swim workout this morning looked like this:

Warm Up
400m Swim/200m Kick/400m Drill
Main Set
with fins
400m Kick ‘Around the World’
200m Side by Side
200m Swim ‘easy’
without fins
200m Kick ‘Around the World’
200m Side by Side
400m Swim
Cool Down
4x50m (25m Catch Up/25m Swim) <40 seconds
200m Swim 'easy'

No one in my lane caught on to the 200m ‘easy’ at the end of our fin set; that took a lot out of me. I am finding out however that all this kicking is helping my swim but hurting my run a bit. I have had a couple of back-to-back runs that have been less than stellar. I reckon that a decent massage and reducing my pace for this upcoming week may help shake out some of the bad mojo. Stay tuned.

Speaking of runs, I headed out this weekend in shorts and a t-shirt. Now like any good runner, I should have a selfie to prove it, but I am not a good runner. Sorry.

Weather is crazy here in Calgary; 11 degrees and sun in the middle of January? Yeah, that happened. The only problem is that with the melting snow comes puddles and ice. Two things can slow a run down, or worse, end it prematurely. I am glad to report that I made it home safely, albeit with mud between my toes.

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Ironman Tattoo
Time Trial Pool Style
Recap – Week 3

Registration for the Mother’s Day Run and Walk opened over the past week. This is a race that my family will do every year in support of not only the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Units here in Calgary, but in memory of our little Oliver who didn’t make it long enough to need the NICU last year. This year will be a little different mind you, instead of me and my brother running the 10k together, my entire family, including my daughter, will run the 5k.

I have a feeling that I will be walking for at least 3k with her on my shoulders and I am looking forward to every minute of it.

Question: Do you have a race you do just for the fun of it?

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?

There Are No Walls in Open Water

My name is Steve, and I flip/tumble turn, whatever you want to call it.


Do you have to do a flip turn as a triathlete? I am a pretty decent swimmer. Not to brag or anything, I just really enjoy being in the lane and hammering a good 1 hour workout.

It is no secret that a flip turn is the fastest way to change direction, if it wasn’t, I am sure Phelps wouldn’t be doing it. I have read stats that state it can take 0:02/length off your split time. Depending on your pool length (most are 25m) that can add up. Like I have said before, free speed, I’ll take it.

With all of my reading, I have also come across many opinions that as a triathlete you should be doing flip turns, because in a race there are no walls for you to take an extra breath. Most people feel that you need to simulate as close as possible to an open water swim in the pool, this means no extra breath. As I swam my 800m pull set at lunch today, I starting thinking about flip turns and if they are beneficial to a triathlete in the pool.

At least I think it was 800m. I may have lost count. Sorry.

To execute my turn, here are my steps;

Take a breath at the T, about 2 strokes from the wall
Turn (insert meaningless instructions here)
Take 1 to 2 strokes before I breath the other way. This takes 2 body lengths past the flags.

The whole process takes about to the count of 6, counting to match my arm turnover. So that means with every turn, 25m in my pool, I am pausing for a count of 6 to turn.

I am a bilateral breather; meaning that I breath on odd strokes. 3-5-7, you get the idea. It is important for any open water swimmer to breath bilaterally, but that is not the topic of this post. So I breath every 3 strokes (sometimes 5 if I am feeling good) then pause to turn at a count of 6, then return to breathing every 3 strokes.

Now imagine, pretty easy for a triathlete, that you are swimming toward the first buoy with 200 of your closest friends. You are humming right along, breathing every 3 strokes, sighting well. After about 4 breaths, you decide to hold your breath for a cycle, breathing on the 6th, then return to breathing every 3. No problem right?

Yeah, seems pretty crazy hey?

Long story short; you can’t simulate open water swimming in a pool. We try certain drills like closing our eyes, sighting the coach, or distance swims but it isn’t the same. I don’t think that you need to be able to flip turn as a triathlete. You swim workout will yield the same results without ’em.

So if you can flip/tumble turn, good for you. It looks cool and impresses the newbies to the club.

If you can’t, no worries mate. You are still rockin’ it in the pool with everyone else, probably at a time that most of the city hasn’t thought of waking up yet.

Question: Do you flip turn? Was it easy to learn?

By the way, if you want to learn how to flip turn, check out this video. It is the best I have found to date.

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?


“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?