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Peterborough Half Iron Race Report

11 Jul

I’ve had a few days to reflect on the Peterborough Half Iron while my muscles ached and my motivation was thin. Three days later I can say my muscles are feeling better and I am not as fatigued as earlier in the week. I had a great day, despite the overcast and rain. But in hindsight I’m glad for the rain and cloud coverage because it was still hot and humid.

DSC01158All packed and ready to go! My whole race needs fit in one bag (except for bike and wetsuit, of course).

I have to admit that I was not very nervous leading up to the day of the race. In fact, I was actually excited. I knew that all I had to do was get over the swim and then I’d be, basically, home free. I knew I could bike 90km and I certainly knew I could run 21km.

Race day came early on Sunday. Mark and I arrived at the race site around 6:30 and set up our transition zone. Once all set up, I squirmed into my wetsuit and went for a quick warm up swim. Mark’s parents and god parents made the trip to Peterborough to cheer us on. So after a quick hello, we waited on the beach for our start.


I was concerned about the swim but it went very well. The swim consisted of two 1km loops with a short run on the beach between loops. The water was warm and a little murky. There was a bit of seaweed near the shore but that did not stop me! The start was a mass start, but racers were grouped by estimated finish times with different coloured swim caps. I was in the last group – the navy blues. When I came out of the water the final time and my watch was at 38min, I looked around for other navy blue caps but I was the only one. I couldn’t believe it! My day was starting out great. After a short run into transition, I stripped the wetsuit off, tried to dry my feet and got ready for the bike.
Total swim time (incl. run to transition): 40:56


The bike course was fairly tough. There were almost continuous rolling hills with one big hill one the way out. On the way back, that hill was not as bad, but a little longer. I had tried to stick to my nutrition plan but it was tough to have a long enough flat stretch to eat. I ate bites of my sandwich every once and a while and about an hour later I ate a Clif Bar. Shortly before getting off the bike, I ate a gel for one last boost of energy. I was feeling pretty good all through out the bike. Although I was cursing the hills and couldn’t wait to hit the turn around, my average speed was 28km/hr. I think that’s a pretty fair speed for a headwind for most of the ride with quite a bit of hills.
Total bike time: 3hr:04mins


By this point, I just couldn’t wait to be finished. My plan was to run to every aid station and give myself a walking break when I reached one. I stayed pretty true to that plan but there was a bit of walking between aid stations too. The run course, much like the bike course, was hilly. I began drinking Pepsi at 5k which did help me to continue mentally. This was what I found the biggest hurdle. My legs were not so much ready to give up as much as my mind was willing to go no further. I found the Pepsi gave me a big enough caffeine jolt to run about half way up a hill which allowed me to walk up the rest. Once at the top, I would run down and carry that momentum through to half way up the next hill. This was my plan and it seemed to be working quite well. The last 2km were the easiest. We were off the country roads and into town. Things seemed to be moving faster and more efficiently. I ran into Beavermead Park and spectators were saying “This is the last 100metres!” I was so elated, I couldn’t wait to cross that finish line. The final turn I spotted the finish line and the time. Mark, his parents, god parents and the crowd cheered me through the chute and I know I had the biggest smile. But I also had the biggest burst of emotion. I hobbled to get my medal and to have my timing chip removed and I couldn’t contain the tears. I know, what a sap!
Total run time: 2hr:09mins

Total race time: 6:00:51

DSC01175Sitting down to pack up my T-zone. Getting back up was tough.

I had a great day out on the race course. It was tough, but not insurmountable. I do see myself completing an other half Iron distance in the future but I don’t think it will be for an other few years. For this race in particular, I don’t think I would change anything to my training. Although I will approach training a little differently for my next half Iron.


Fueling Race Day

5 Jun

After yesterday’s 90km bike ride, I’ve realized a few things.

1) Eating and cycling is not as easy as it sounds. Trying to breathe while eating bread and peanut butter is not ideal.
2) I am going to need more food than I thought which means I need to find a way to carry it all.
3) What should I eat and how often?

I spoke to Mark about my dilemma and he told me that he eats every hour. Ok, that’s doable but that only solves one part of my 3 problems. I started doing some research this morning because I do not want nutrition to be an issue on race day. When getting off the bike, being hungry with a 21km run ahead would not be pretty.

I don’t think fueling before the race will be a problem. I’ve been eating the same thing for a few years now and it’s never let me know: bagel with peanut butter and jam. I try not to drink too much water though. The days leading up to the race I try to be extra conscious about hydration. I know that during the race I will be keeping hydrated so it’s not necessary to drink a lot of water before the starting gun. I try to stick to no more than 400ml of waters. But that’s what works for me.

The bigger issue here will be fueling on the bike. I think this will be the plan: eat a Clif Bar first thing once I am settled and comfortable on the bike. After each hour subsequently I will eat a piece of bread with peanut butter and nutella. However, as I approach the end of the bike portion, I am going to take one gel.

For the run, I am going to take a few gels with me. I’m pretty sure there will be some on course so I don’t want to carry too much. Unfortunately the race website is not too great at listing everything that will be at the aid stations. I’m hoping there will be bananas and Coke. I seem to think I read that somewhere. Regardless, I fired the race director an email because these are things I need to know!

Early Bird re-cap

22 May

I’m sorry for the delay in getting a race report on here. We just got home from Ottawa and the hotel we were staying at did not have Wi-Fi. Although it was initially frustrating, it was also kind of liberating. The hotel did, however, have cable which is a luxury we don’t have. Needless to say, I was glued to the TV.

Anyway, down to business. The Early Bird Triathlon was Saturday and started at 8:30. The novelty with this race is that the swim portion is in a 50metre pool. The water in Ottawa in mid-May is still pretty chilly. The pool is much  more comfortable and controlled – great for first timers.

We arrived at the transition zone around 7am. I raked my bike and organized all my clothes and gear on a towel. For first timers, remember this: untie your shoelaces! Undoing knots is not fun when your wet and under stress. Mark and I ran into old friends and our triathlon coach. It was so nice to see familiar faces! I proceeded to picking up my timing chip and to get body marking. We had to do our own body marking in this race. Luckily, I had Mark with me. After a final pee check, I practiced transition. This always seems a little funny but its worth it. Running into transition with a plan and knowing where you’ve racked your bike will save you lots of anxiety. I also practice how I will put on my clothes, helmet and sunglasses.



Shortly after 8am we headed towards the pool and waited on the deck. The way the swim operates is through timed corrals. Every racer lined himself or herself in their anticipated finish time slot. I was feeling fast so I lined in near the back of the 10min corral. I hadn’t timed my 500m in the pool during training but figured my estimation was correct based on my 100m. The line moved slowly but I chatted with the people around me which passed the time. Finally, it was my turn. When I was told to jump in, I realized my goggles were not over my eyes – oops! I quickly pulled them down and hoped they weren’t going to fill with water. I started swimming and there was no panic, no fear and no anxiety. I felt great! I did not get tired and continued until the first turn around. This is where things got congested. I caught up with the person in front of me, who was caught up with the person in front of her, etc. The swim was slow and I tried not to touch the feet of the swimmer in front of me. I’m sure she probably appreciated that. My total time in the water was 11 minutes. Slow, but I was not fatigued when I came out of the water. This was perhaps a blessing because the run to transition was 500metres.



My time in transition went without a hitch. It could have gone bad as I put my shoes on before my bike shorts. Pulling up shorts over bike shoes: problematic, will never do again. Once on the bike, I put the pedal to the metal. I had some serious time to make up. I kept telling myself that it didn’t matter if I didn’t place in my age group. After all, I was now at the bottom of a very competitive age group. As I pedaled, I kept passing people. The canal’s Colonel By Drive is mostly flat with two inclinations. Only one of those inclinations is a problem and even then, it’s not so bad. The bike route was 2 loops of 11.8km. I took the time to enjoy the scenery. That route used to be a staple for running and cycling when we lived in the capital. Nearly a quarter of an hour later, I slowed to dismount and ran into transition. My time on the bike was 44 minutes.


The run after swimming and biking always kills me! I knew I had a fairly long incline up ahead just after the 1km mark so I started running slow and steady. I was uncomfortable and unable to push that feeling out of my mind. It seems so easy to do on the bike. I kept going and put one foot in front of the other. At the first kilometre I looked at my watch: 5:00min/km. Wow, was I ever running slowly! Where did the endurance go? I told myself that I had to keep that 5min/km and that I could not go any slower. However, at 3.5km I totally forgot my rule and walked for 30seconds. I had been climbing for a few hundred metres and knew I had to climb for another few hundred more. This little rest helped and I started running even stronger. When I came into the chute, Mark was waiting with two really good friends. I came into the chute with no one behind me and I sprinted to the finish. Run time: 26 minutes.

finishingMy overall time was 1 hr 26 minutes (transitions included) and placed third on my age group!

Our celebration afternoon was spent lounging in the Arboretum and taking pictures.


First Triathlon of the Seaon

15 May

Saturday will be this season’s first triathlon. Mark and I are doing Somersault‘s Early Bird Triathlon again. Last year’s Early Bird was a huge success for me. I had a personal best on the 5k run and I finished second in my age group. I had trained really hard in the winter and early spring to top my age category and I did. That success continued with a second sprint triathlon in which I placed first in my age group. That second triathlon was during a very busy time for Mark and I. We were getting ready to move our lives to Milton so there is no race report. But you can check out the stats here.

Receiving my "silver" medal

Receiving my “silver” medal at the Early Bird 2012.



This year, however, my priorities are completely different. My training focus has been on the half-Iron in Peterborough in July. I haven’t exactly been working on speed on the bike or the run. I have to admit, though, that my bike and run are stronger than they were last year. Hopefully that means a new personal best at the 5k and maybe even on the bike.

Of course a return to the Early Bird means a return to Ottawa! Mark and I are really looking forward to being back in the city we love. We have a few plans but we are also looking forward to taking things easy and at a relaxed pace. There are a few vegetarian restaurants we want to visit, a few parks that are perfect for lazy afternoon lounging and some friends that desperately need catching up.

When traveling, I always make a list of stuff I need to pack. Now there’s a triathlon involved, that list is even bigger. I enjoy triathlon but it’s so tough to remember everything you need for race day. It’s a far cry from simply a road race where one only needs running shoes, sun glasses and maybe a watch.  While I’m waiting in transition I always feel as though I am missing something. If you need some tips for the days leading up to a triathlon, you can check out this list I compiled last season. I find it always helps to lay out all your stuff the night before and, of course, at your station before the start of the race.

Transition ZoneI will have a full report about the Early Bird shortly after the race. I cannot promise that the report will be too quick, though. I do have all of Ottawa to enjoy in a short period of time.

My man is an Ironman!

4 Sep

We really couldn’t ask for a more beautiful day in Penticton on August 26 for Mark’s Ironman. It was warm with a breeze and no humidity – it was a dream!

As promised, here is Mark’s race report:

Within the first like 10feet of the swim I had my goggles knocked off. Not long after that I was frustrated by the chaos in the water and I stopped swimming and it did not take long for an alarm to go off and say: “Don’t stop you moron go!!” So I then restarted swimming and after about 10 or 15 minutes the packs started to form and I was like a minute or two behind the lead pack and I was happy to just swim there for the rest of the swim. From this point forward the swim was non eventful and I just went about my business.

The bike this time was different than any other bike ride I have ever done in any triathlon regardless of distance. For the first time I was not the passer but I was the passee…big time. From the 70km mark forward I was passed by so many people it was crazy and I don’t recall passing a single person. Thats 110 km’s of being passed! On a guy with a big ego like me, that was tough to take but I swallowed my pride and sat in a comfortable pace.
The first 60k of this bike ride was so easy (and gorgeous). It was mostly flat and we had a tail wind. Big groups started to form but after the 60k mark all this changed. At this point you hit Richter Pass which from start to finish is like 10k of 3X3km of hills and some short recovery flat sections in between to make up the last 1km. The hills are not that bad in terms of grade but they just seem to go on forever. This I was well prepared for both mentally and physically and did what I had practiced. What I was not ready for was the 30 or 40km that followed. Following Richter Pass you get the next hour or so in rolling hills and this took a toll on my legs and this is were people started going by me like I was a transport truck stuck on the Autobahn. After this I realized that if I pushed to hard I would suffer later on. The rest of the ride I took at a very comfortable pace and this is were the mental game really began. At this point so many people passed me and it was really hard to just let them go but I knew it was a long day and I knew I had a snickers bar coming in my special needs bag. I ate my Snickers Bar with about an hour to go in the bike ride and shortly thereafter I hit the second really challenging part of this bike course which was another approx 10k climb up to Yellow Lake. This was truly demoralizing. I had practiced eating a Snickers Bar several times in training and it always seemed to give me a boost but that boost hadn’t kicked in yet. So I had been on my saddle for like 5hours at this point racing for a little over 6 hours my legs were aching and here I was faced with this 10km climb up the side of a f***in mountain. Thank god for the crowds because they cheered you on and I am pretty sure the vibration from their sound waves pushed my but up that hill. Anyways, survived Yellow Lake and then it was really easy back into town. From this point its like 20km mostly downhill and this is when my Snickers bar kicked in. This, in hindsight was awesome because I actually felt great coming off the bike.

The run is what I am most proud of for my first Ironman. I came off the bike feeling great I covered the first 10k in 47minutes. But at this point the hurt started. I covered the next 11.1k in 53minutes as I crossed the half way mark in 1hr 40min. Then after the turnaround at Ironman Canada you have like two pretty tough hills and I was forced to walk. Now in the past at long distance tri’s I have absolutely blown up both mentally and physically in the last part of runs. Here I was prepared for this I knew it was a possibility and I had a plan. At this point I had been on my feet racing for like 8hours so regardless of how much I took in (calorie wise) I knew my glucose levels would be low so, just like I planned ahead of time I knew that walking my heart rate would come down so I slammed back two glasses of Pepsi and a gel and I let that settle. Within a couple of minutes I felt alright and restarted running. This process I had to repeat again over the next 13 or so km’s two more times but I never panicked. I controlled the controllables and let go of what I could not control. With 7km’s to go a very nice 31 year old woman from Chicago caught me. This had nothing to do with who caught me but when she did catch me its like somebody lit a match for both of us. All of a sudden we both picked up and for the next 6km we both started running sub 5min km’s (which is not flying but at the end of an Iromman oh my god that feels fast) together we passed a bunch of people and with 1.5km’s to go I finally pulled away from her. (my own little version of the ironwar and it was AWESOME!) and then with 1km to go my energy levels crashed so I am hurting now and then with the last turnaround in sight I turn at the wrong spot and the crowed goes wild…Hey Hey you turned at the wrong spot…CRAP!!! So I went back and this woman passed me and then I just did not have the gas to catch her again but over all what a run. I felt more prepared for this run than any other marathon I have ever done and it was a great way to end my first Ironman.

So I was super excited when I crossed the finished line I finished 2 in my age group and 129th over all with very respectable 10hr 22min first Ironman.

The entire experience from training all the way to the post race meal was incredible. It has been an amazing journey of self discovery and a battle of never giving up and working hard and hard work paying off.

When you finish an Ironman, this is the kind of treatment you can expect: a nice, greasy burger and a piggy back ride to the hotel.


I’m obsessed with races!

8 Aug

Ever since I put my competitive nature aside for the 2013 season, I keep discovering all these races that I want to do. My list is ever growing!  My 2012 season had initially only been about getting the top spot of my age group in the sprint triathlon distance. After that was accomplished twice early in the season and an unexpected move brought us far from Ottawa (where there are triathlons monthly), I had to set my sights on new goals.  That is where the marathon came in. I am really looking forward to October 21!

But now that I’m back to solely running-until next summer, that is.  After a really good training session and achieving a distance I’ve never run before, I head to the internet in search of nearby races. My calendar for 2013 is quickly filling up and I better start saving for those registrations!

1) Chilly Half-Marathon: March 3 – Burlington, ON
*all participants receive a technical running jacket!
White Violet

2) Around the Bay: March 24 – Hamilton, ON
*Older than the Boston Marathon and a runner’s staple

3) Double Mussel: July 12-14 – Geneva, NY
* Sprint triathlon on Saturday and half ironman on Sunday for 88.7 miles of fun!

4) Athens Marathon – November – Athens, Greece
* That’s right, Mark and I are going to Greece next year to run the original marathon: From Marathon to Athens!

As you can see, I’ve got my work cut out for me for the next fifteen months. After all that, I may need to take a break from long distance.

Going in blind

9 Jun

I really thought I wasn’t going to need it, but I’ve come to realize that summer running is not as pleasant without it.  I’m talking about Body Glide, of course! For any kind of chaffing, especially for the thighs, that stuff will work miracles!

I went on a 10km run this morning and the inside of my thighs were burning by kilometre 8. So when I naturally ventured into the Running Room this afternoon to invest in anti-chaffing.  Of course I bought the pink one too (not that it matters)!

I also signed up for my next triathlon – it’s called the Smith Falls Classic. I’m a little worried as it’s my first open water start of the season. I also don’t know the temperature of the water. I’m unsure whether I should wear a wetsuit or just wear a swimsuit.

Here are my thoughts:

Wetsuit benefits:

  1. More buoyancy
  2. Warmth

Wetsuit disadvantage:

  1. Never used one before
  2. Difficulty getting out

I’m hoping to go out for an open water swim tomorrow to test out the wetsuit and then I’ll decide from there.