triathlon and family can mix

Posts tagged “triathlon

Where Have You Been?

So it has been a little while.


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?


That Was a Cold Race

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


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.

‘Round the Bunny Ear and Through the Hole

For a simple piece of technology, I sure screw it up a lot.


Walking to the office this morning, I had to stop and tie my shoe. Let me tell you, it gets annoying after a while. I raced 6 times last year, 2 of those races required shoelace maintenance. Sure it only takes 10-15 seconds to stop, tie, and restart but when I cross the finish line at 45:10 aiming for a sub 45:00…..time to figure this thing out.

I got chatting with a buddy of mine who is the Western Canadian Rep for a major shoe brand; he mentioned that in his experience New Balance shoe laces don’t like to stay tied. Something about the material, or shape, or both I can’t remember. This was a point in our run that I was bent over tying my left shoe lace.

Irony at its finest.

Over the past couple of months I have noticed the frequency of united laces is getting higher. Not sure what I am doing that is different than before and I have changed out any of my equipment. My running shoes are my trusty New Balance Minimus Road Zeros and my dress shoes haven’t been replaced in about 6 months.

Just looked at them, maybe they need to replaced sooner than I thought.

Of course there are products out there that help with the sort of issue; I have a couple at the house. I just can’t seem to get them right and end up with a pain in my foot half way through a 10k run. My daughter, 7, has just learnt to tie her shoes. Right now it is all about shoes with laces; if they have Velcro, back in the closet with them. Sure there was some frustration, it comes with the territory, but she has mastered it.

Maybe I need to take some pointers from her.

On the topic of foot/lace related issues, I had to change the lacing pattern on my shoes to eliminate a pressure spot on the top of my foot. It has helped drastically and since I changed the pattern, no more issues.

Question: Have you had problems like this? Any suggestions?

Ironman Tattoo

M. Dot.


It seems like a right of passage. Cross the finish line and straight to the tattoo parlour. The more I see them around the gym, pool, path, or beach these days, I wonder if I would get one.

First, to qualify I am sure you have to finish a long distance Triathlon, all 226.3 kilometers of it. Second, you need to be proud of it. How could you not be? Not many people would attempt it, let alone finish it.

I think there is a stigma around people who have an Ironman tattoo. Some opinions say that ‘are they not proud of anything else than finishing that race x years ago’. I don’t think this is the case; starting, let alone finishing a long distance triathlon is a feat. I think it is a celebration of something that they have worked hard at achieving. Trust me, the amount of training hours that come along with the finish can be staggering. Average 11 hours per week with 3 hour bike rides on Saturday and 2 hours runs on Sunday; not to mention strength training and your real life. This is what I averaged in preparation for Ironman 70.3 Calgary, a half distance triathlon.

So back to my original thought.

Would I ever get a tattoo?

I love this sport and all of the tangible and intangible benefits that have come along with it. I am in the best shape of my life, my energy levels are thru the roof, and my daughter is racing as well. I will talk about it with anyone that asks, and hey, alot of people who don’t (sorry if you have been one of the unwilling listeners in the past). The people I have met including instructors, physiotherapists, and fellow triathletes over the past two years have made a positive impact on my life. Thank you for that.

I just find it hard to want to advertise it to the entire world, all the time. I mean having people check out your tattoo, check you out (elevator look?), then make a judgment based on your current physical condition is something I would like to avoid. “He has an Ironman tattoo, he doesn’t look like he could finish the walk up the stairs!”

I am just saying I don’t think that I would get one. Better to leave the memory where it belongs, in my mind.

Just a thought: Do you need to show proof, like a picture of you crossing the finish line or a secret membership card? I sure hope so.

Question: Would you get an Ironman Tattoo?

Swim Etiquette

I am not British, but some etiquette rules just have to be followed.

When it comes to swimming, I often have come across the average joe out for a Sunday afternoon slow swim, at Thursday lunch. In my opinion, the local pools don’t do enough to educate swimmers on the proper ettiquete which will allow everyone to have an enjoyable experience. I am not talking about hard rules that have to be followed or you are kicked out, like peeing in the pool, but just the little things that will help out your fellow swimmers.

I have wanted to write this blog post for a while now, but struggled with how to write it in a positive way, not just complain. So I decided to share some of the rules I have learnt over the years in the pool.

Fast, Medium, or Slow Lane
Pick the right lane for your ability, not for how many people are in it. There is a reason why the fast lane is always less crowded than the medium or slow lane; because to consistently swim sub 1:40/100m, you have to be good. By picking the right lane, you make the workout more enjoyable not only for yourself, but for the others in your lane. No one likes to be a speed bump.

There is not a specific time divider, but I have found that if you swim around 1:40/100m, the fast lane is for you. If you swim 2:00/100m, it isn’t.

Turn Baby, Turn
Coming from a swimming background, I flip turn. That doesn’t mean that you have to do it too; it is the one thing that intimidates most swimmers. Actually, I think that the wall period intimidates most swimmers. What do I do when someone is coming? Should I push off now?

There will always be times when you will be resting at the wall. Unless you are the only one, or part of a masters class, the rest of the lane will continue on without you. You should always be resting at the right side of the lane (see next point).

If you are turing for another length (or 10) and there is no one in front of you, in the last 5m, move to the left of the black line, turn, and push straight off. This will help avoid the occasional collision and a potential face full of fingers. When you feel someone tap your foot or are coming to the wall for a rest, stay to the right side and rest there.

Pass Properly
I am about to get country for a second, so stay with me. Consider each swim lane like a two-lane, non divided highway. You wouldn’t pass when another vehicle is approaching in the opposite lane straddling the center line. So why is it okay in a swim lane? It isn’t. First question, are you actually swimming faster or just drafting? Drafting will reduce your workload by 8-10%. If you are swimming faster, polietly tap his/her foot (signal light), look to see if the opposite side is clear, then pass on the left. If the lane is not clear, tap his/her foot, wait until the wall, then when they pause to let you go ahead, go ahead.

Oh, by the way, if you feel someone tap your foot, stop at the wall and let them pass. I am pretty sure you figured this out, but if not, there you go.

With a full lane, it can be tempting to push off right behind the swimmer in front of you. Please, resist that temptation. The rule of thumb is with 4 or less swimmers in the lane, leave 10 seconds between each swimmer. In a lane with 5 or more swimmers, leave a 5 second gap and try to stay on the toes of the swimmer in front of you.

Oh, and if you are grabbing a flutter board for a kick drill, good for you by the way, I hate kick drills, wait until all of the swimmers have left the wall. You are slow and you will become a speed bump.

Try some of these on your next workout if you don’t already. I am sure everyone will appreciate it.

Question: Any rules I missed?

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.