Blog de Phil

The triathlon training blog of Phil Barnes

Progress in the Pool


The 2nd annual May long weekend training extravaganza was just upon us. A great opportunity to go full-out again on a 2000m swim time-trial. I swam extremely well last year, and was pleasantly surprised with my time. After a full-year of 3x per week masters, I have managed to chip away at the time even more. 2 minutes and 10 seconds faster over 2K. Not bad.

Splits were: 500m at 7:59 (1:36/100m); 1000m split at 16:20 (1:38/100m); 1500m at 24:43 (1:40/100m).


I went for my first hard-ride today. The Long Sault Parkway. 1 easy loop, 1 hard loop, 1 half loop for recovery. I was nervous. The ride was sure to expose a long winter of lethargy. It did not disappoint. In the past, I could have blamed my slow time on the wind (and it was brutal today, on the "outward" bound). Alas, with today's technology, especially Power Tap pedals, the wind is no longer an excuse.

There's a Strava segment I have been chipping away at, the MEC Sprint Triathlon. Almost 20K. Half into the wind, half with the wind at your back. Previous best, Sept 8, 2016: 31:43, 36.5 kph average, 216 Watts. Today: 35:45, 32.4 kph average, 184 Watts. Gulp. I'm not even going to dignify that with a W/kg analysis owing to the fact I am higher in the kg right now.

Despite the suck, I was still proud that I felt I was giving it 110%. I could not have gone faster today. If nothing else, the baseline has been set. Let the season begin.

Year in Review 2016

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. As 2016 draws to an end here is an annual introspective of the year that was.

A) Awarded Cornwall Multisport Club Member of the Year - an honour I accepted, not necessarily for a marquee year of involvement, but as a culmination of the past 10 years. This year was noteworthy for some club members for the MS marathon being brought to town, it's certification as a Boston Qualifier and my involvement in that.

B) Being awarded a set of Power Tap P1 Pedals from Sportstats was an unexpected coup. It's funny to think that these pedals are worth more than most bikes. It's a prize I appreciate and have put to use. They have brought a new dimension to cycling analysis - hopefully I will learn enough from them to make a difference in my training and racing in the years to come.

C) This is a great picture taken at the Run to endMS Marathon. It really was amazing that we could bring this event to life, and that the local community supported it and made it a success. I'm pictured here leading a small group which consisted of most our regular Sunday group (Guylaine, Kim, Kathy, Rafeek). We sold out the event in year 1, and so far for year 2 (having doubled the number of spots, we have exceeded last year's registration and are almost sold out again).

D) Hallelujah! Finally my own Cornwall Triathlon mug for placing 3rd out of 25 in the M40-49 category. But on top of that hitting a personal best, not just for the Cornwall Tri, but for an Olympic Triathlon.. 2:23:21 (despite a slower than normal run because of bad feet!).

E) This pic was taken at the B@@r Mile.  But it represents a great year of fun and camaraderie with the Cornwall Multisport Club. We had a great spring training session with 2000m swim, 245K bike and 61K run over a weekend; Canada Day training; many good Frozen Sole runs and group runs throughout the winter; Hash House Harrier runs; Club parties; Polar Bear Dip and much more. A great group of folks for sure.

F) My cycling was all over the map this year. I had a love-hate relationship with the bike. But, I managed some formidable efforts - partly due to new training aids (Power Tap, Strava, and new aero helmet). I had a spectacular solo ride from Ogdensburg to Cornwall, various max FTP efforts on the Long Sault Parkway, a great training climb on the Duplesis hills of Tremblant, and an outstanding solo bike effort at the Barrelman aquabike - averaging 36 kph for 89 km.

G) The MS Marathon was all-kinds of rewarding; however, a small snag prevented Guylaine from achieving her goal for a BQ. She turned it all around by the end of the season and at the Hamilton Road2Hope got her BQ with 2 minutes and 7 seconds to spare. We will get to Boston eventually!

H) Challenge St-Andrews was an interesting event. I was low on mojo the week before going into it, but somehow, manged to turn it around. I had an unexpectedly great race. The weather was horrible, but it didn't stop me from having a formidable swim, a smart bike, and unusual for me - a solid - well paced run. I started the run with one goal 1:45 for the half-marathon, that meant 5:00 pace, and I nailed it. When it was all put together, I managed to get a PB for a half-ironman on an early-season race on a challenging course - I'll take it!

The glum side of getting old...
Injuries took their toll on me this year. The start of the year was a write off for swimming, as my shoulder was messed up with a pinched nerve. It took until mid-March before I was regularly back in the water. But worst of all, this year was the year of the fatpad/plantar fasciitis. I'm not sure what brought it on but running has been nearly nill since the summer. This meant sitting out the Maple City Triathlon, and Raisin River footrace, as well as relegating Barrelman to the aquabike. Hopefully I will recover next year - as I actually am starting to miss running!

PBs this year:
Half Ironman - Challenge St. Andrews  - 5:13:36
Olympic Triathlon - Cornwall Triathlon - 2:23:22
500m Swim TT - Nav Can Pool - 07:58 (1:35/100m)
Frozen Sole 5 mile - 0:35:31 (4:27/km)

Close Calls:
Weekly du - Bike Split - 0:24:30 - 2nd fastest
Weekly du - Overall time - 0:51:04 - 9th fastest (but 10 seconds outside of Top 6).

New Metric
2016 Max 20 minute cycling power - 236 Watts, August 15th Du.

2016 Training Log Numbers
Swim x 87 = 235,700 meters
Bike x 101 = 4,845 km
Run x 143 = 1,301
Total Distance moved = 6,381.7 km.

Niagara Falls Barrelman Race Report (Swim-Bike)

The Niagara Falls Barrelman was first run in 2014. This would be the 3rd annual, presumably, all the kinks have been ironed out. It's a late season half-ironman event. Guylaine was Jonesing for a fall half to better her early season effort at St. Andrews, and this one fit the bill. All told, there were around 800 participants at this event, apparently the largest non-m-dot half-ironman currently in North America. I, having that weird foot injury, was still able to participate in the Swim-Bike version (aka Aqua Bike). I was actually looking forward to this; going Full-Gas on the bike without regard for saving energy for the run.

This is my favourite spot to view Niagara Falls. It's scary how close you can actually get to the edge of the water.
Every time I stand here, I have a weird urge to climb over the fence and jump in.

We stayed over in Niagara Falls and of course had a heart shaped hot tub in our room. I think our bikes got into some mischief though.

Is this how baby bikes are made?
We had a family vacation in Niagara Falls about 5 years ago, and we were surprised then at how revitalized it was (since our last visit circa 1995, when it felt like a worn-out ghost town). Even now in mid-September, the place was hustling and bustling - it's a big party-town.

Failed selfie in front of the night-lit falls.

Caught in the act at the Hershey factory store.

Party, party, party. Clifton Hill and Victoria Avenue were all alight.
I digress --- on to the race...

The race is a point-to-point. The Swim and Bike start are in Welland. The swim in a Rowing Canal. This would be a very easy to navigate straight swim. The bike went south-east of Welland, did a loop, and then back to Welland (~56K mark), and then heads north-east to Niagara Falls.
Bike Start is the green box in the middle of the map.

For some reason, I didn't set time-goals for this race. I had looked at past results of the Swim-Bike, and thought that if I had a good day, there was a chance I could do well in the overall standings. The thing I was afraid of was either being too conservative on the bike, and finishing with energy to spare - and conversely - being too aggressive on the bike, and not having enough energy to finish.

The Swim (2000 meters) - Usually it's 1.9K, but perhaps since the bike is only 89K they lengthen the swim? 100m of swimming ~ 1 minute 40 seconds  and  1 km of biking ~ 1:40 @ 36kph - so time-wise it's a wash. Anyhow. The swim was wave-starts, approximately 150 people per wave, I was wave 3. I did plan not to go too hard - here's the thing, for me to swim 1 minute faster I would need to use up a massive amount of energy that would definitely sap me of more than 1 minute's effort on the bike. This race for me was all about the bike. So I slotted in on the swim, and swam comfortably (but still with purpose). I hit the shore at 33:29 (1:40 pace); official swim split includes a short run and some stairs up to transition (33:55). [some side notes: 1) bathing cap started to come loose at 1200m, and it popped off at 1750m - fortunately, I had put my goggles underneath. 2) from about 500m on we were swimming through the wave in front of us, which I thought would be a disaster, but was actually kind of fun - and strangely orderly in a non-contact way.]

Transition - Racks were pre-assigned by bib number, which I like, but I didn't have a particularly advantageous location. The wetsuit came off easily. I threw the Cliff bar I had left open in my helmet in my mouth, put on the helmet, and off I went. Shoes were already on the bike, and I opted not for socks. Official split = 1:28.

The Bike a.k.a Show Time - I had no idea how fast I would go. The wind looked "net" favourable - the bike has enough twists and turns that you experience a full sweep of Yaw several times over the route. My hatched plan leaving transition was to keep it "conservative" for the first section - the out, the loop and the back (the first 56k); conservative meaning regular half-ironman effort. And that is how that section went. I was passed a lot over the first 5K, I passed a few people, but generally settled in with a group for the first section. Yes, yes, yes, all drafting rules enforced - only a 5 meter draft zone, but I was dutiful to pass whenever I would breach it despite having to put in some very large surges (that didn't worry me too much as I was aqua-biking), and I did sit up and fall back whenever passed.

The first section went well. I was surprised to see average speed hovering around 35 km/hr, and pleasantly surprised to experience prolonged stretches of 40+.

Returning to Townline Tunnel Road for the trip to Niagara Falls. I threw down the mental gauntlet to myself -- "Buddy, this is Aqua Bike - let's go!" I flipped my computer from [Current Speed/Average Speed] over to [Power]. "I don't want to see anything under 200 Watts" (not a scientifically arrived number, since I still haven't fully read and understand the power meter book, but I knew I could average 200 Watts over 40km, ala Cornwall Triathlon).

200 Watts was harder to average than expected, the wind seemed to be a little less in my favour through this section. But I had a target and I was spinning along as hard as possible to hit it, and I broke away from one group and started to mix in with a new group with a few Team Canada ITU kits (yes, yes, yes, all 5 meter draft zones respected). The neat part about this section is we pass through a long tunnel, with a downhill gradient - this was fun - except the enthusiastic spectator standing near the end banging on a steel panel that scared the crap out of me at first, and was 200 decibels I could have done without.

Shortly after the tunnel, there's a section of left-right-left-right-left-right-left-right turns which took us on some crumbling roads, and then finally, Marshall Road. This signaled 9K to go and the point where all bets were off.

I had to do some mind-over-matter talking and convinced myself to hammer as hard as I could as fatigue had been creeping in. "This is a 9K TT. The pain will be over with in 15 minutes.... you can do this". Again, another surge, and a renewed effort to not drop below 200 Watts. And again, I broke away from the group around me, and was totally solo for the ride home. I was breathing like a race-horse, and whimpering like a baby. I hoped no one would pass me 'cause they'd feel obligated to tell me to keep it in check - no way would anyone ride this hard expecting to run 21k afterwards. With 2K to go, the edge fell off, I was really struggling - and despite being uncomfortable - I was somewhat relieved. I knew I had gone as hard as I could have, and not left anything on the table. "2K - we got this. come on. 3 minutes max". "1K, you're almost done, don't give up...what's that expression... pain is temporary, Sportstats is forever..." 200 meters, and I can see the end. I had planned to bike as hard as possible to the end, so I left my feet strapped into the shoes, and braked right at the dismount line. I unclipped in a hurry, stepped over the mat, and knew it was done.
Grunting to the bitter end. 50 meters from the finish.

Now here is where AquaBike gets funny...

I love transitions in triathlons. I love the frenzy, the speed, the panic, the franticness. As soon as I stepped over the mat - the volunteers (having no way of knowing I was in the AquaBike), are all shouting out "What's your number??" (The T2 Racks are all pre-assigned, and the volunteers are all helping people get to their rack, and help them with their equipment). I knew exactly where to go, because I had reviewed the provided T2 map/layout and knew were my spot would be. So I'm just trotting in all casual, meanwhile other racers are flying through (rightfully, trying to save as much time as possible); and I'm just clip-clopping along at a snails pace with a goofy grin.  I approach my rack (one other bike on it), and the volunteer is like "Here, here, here, I'll help, I'll help,  I'll be your designated helper."  And I'm like, "It's okay, I'm done, I'm just an Aquabiker". Which was funny, because she was disappointed she didn't get to help me. So finally, I rack my bike, and take off my shoes, and I'm casually wiping all the grime off my face, and I start walking bare-footed to the "Run-Out" arch. A volunteer told me to go up the road, and down the chute to the finish for my medal and hat. So I'm just casually trotting up the road, and I can see the photographer getting his camera ready for the day (the expected first place triathlete is still 40 minutes away from finishing), I round the fence and start jogging down the chute - and it was all kind of weird to be trotting down a finish chute without any urgency - in a way it was a little anti-climactic, but I had sort of expected it to be.

Well, I cross the line, making a goofy pose and the cameraman and I share a laugh. The girls give me my medal and let me chose a hat (Red, Blue or Green) - I took Red. And then they say, "You can put your chip in the bucket." And I do, and I notice that there are 3 other chips in the bucket - so I say, "Does this mean I came in 4th??" and they're [insert emoji for 'shoulder shrug/dunno'].  So I convince myself that I came in 4th, and I know there was a female aquabiker ahead of me, and I'm kind of cloud 9 thinking I'm 3rd overall male, and on the podium. Only to find out (hours later when looking at the final results) that in fact I was 9th overall, 8th male, and 5th 40+ ... aka ... no podium for me.

HOWEVER, I was still really satisfied with my race. And being able to hold 36 kph (albeit wind assisted) over 89K is a pretty good achievement; and after analysing the power, I'm happy to see that my max 20 minute power averaged 197 W from 73km to 85.3km.

Final Stats

Final time was 3:03:30.3 - notice all the 3's. My race number was 333. Freaky.

Nutrition Report
Breakfast - large bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, 2 hotel room coffees.
Pre-swim - 100 cal Cliff Bar sample (T-minus 45 minutes); 1 Gel (T-minus 15 minutes).
T1 - 100 cal Cliff Bar sample
Bike - 4 Gels; 1 each at 0:30, 1:00, 1:30, 2:00; 3 bottles of water.

Now, enough about me...

Guylaine, simply rocked the whole course. Crushing the bike at 2:51:06 (@ 32.2kph); and holding a consistent run of 1:58:40 (@ 5:39/km) with virtually even splits despite torridly hot and humid conditions. Setting a half-ironman PB by over 12 minutes with a 5:39:38.... and just missing a podium spot, finishing 4th out of 30 in her category, and 46/200 women overall.

What the Heck just happend? Cornwall Triathlon Race Report 2016.

Firstly, this is not an excuse - BUT - I have been experiencing a weird foot injury for the last couple of months - fat pad syndrome - as a result, I have not been running very much. My running form is nothing near where it normally is. I have only run a total of 56 km in the 7 weeks since Challenge St. Andrews (July 10). My plan going into the race was to bike hard and hope for the best on the run.

Race Recap
We woke up according to plan and packed the van. It was pouring rain. This was going to suck. We arrived on site and set up, it started to clear up a bit, it stopped raining, and then it started again. Fudge.

The swim (2 x 750m loops)- after all the procrastinating, I finally made it down to the swim start to join Guylaine, and get set up in the water with about 4 minutes to go. The buoys were close to the shore, and it was congested - I figured it was going to be a rough start - but somehow still ended up on the first row for the swim. The horn went off, and strangely it wasn't rough at all. At about 100 meters, I could feel my bathing cap start to get ready to pop off - crap - I had put my goggle strap over the cap - if I loose the cap, I loose the googles. At 200 meters... Pop, off it went; I was able to grab my goggles and refix them, but the cap was heading off to Montreal without me. The river was calm, and sighting was good. On the first loop I was kind of in and out of a pack. On the second loop, I felt more like I was pulling a pack. I swam straight but was somewhat surprised when I got out of the water in 23:35. The course may have been a tad short, hey I'll take it.

T1 - Follow the red carpet - a new red carpet had been laid out for the run from swim out to transition. That was pretty neat. I skipped the wetsuit strippers, as I had only just noticed them once I had gone by them. I struggled a lot with my suit on the run through the field, I couldn't seem to get the zipper to cooperate. I had it all figured out by the time I got to my bike, and although I was a little slower than I thought, I was out and on the bike quickly enough. (1:55, we actually had timed transitions this year).

The bike (4x10km laps) - I had my feet on my shoes, and waited to get up to at least 25kph before I put my feet in. It had stopped raining, but the roads were slick. I hit the turnaround, seconds after someone had gone down hard.  That served as a precautionary tale for the rest of the day. Reinforced when I got to Nav Canada, just behind another wipe out. I wanted to average 34kph for the bike, and was really happy that I was maintaining a 35 kph through each lap. I had a weird wobble on the turnaround of my 3rd lap, but managed to keep it upright. The road had dried out more or less by the fourth loop. I wasn't tired at all, and felt great for the whole bike. Last year was a great weather day for the bike - despite the rain, it turned out pretty good again this year - the wind was only slight, and it felt more like a cross-wind, so it didn't slow you down in either direction.

T2 - I fumbled a bit with my shoes, and made the decision not to wear socks. (Oh boy, do I have blisters now).

The Run (1 x 10K out and back) - I didn't bring the Garmin for the run, I was going to split each km with my watch. I started the run, and knew I was going too fast; I forced myself to slow to a manageable pace. I didn't get the first split as my watch was messed up (I was able to back-calculate it afterwards), but my 2nd km was 4:40. This kind of surprised me, because I didn't think I'd be able to run that fast. For the next couple of kms I was splitting in the range of 4:40 to 4:50; and that's when the math started creeping in.  At 3K to go, I allowed myself to look at the time, if it was 10:42 or earlier (2:12 race time) - even if I slowed down to 6 minute km's I knew I would finish sub 2:30. Sunovagun, it was way under - at that time Guylaine passed me, she must have seen the discomfort on my face, "Forget about the pain" she said... meaning run hard and don't stop. I ran as well as I could, and couldn't believe it when I saw the finish line clock saying 2:23:something.

The Finish
Despite a relatively slow run (48 mins), I finished in 2:23:21 for a new course and distance PB for me. I was passed a lot on the run, and only passed one person. Luckily the person I passed was 3rd place in my category, so I ended up with an AG podium for the first time, and a coveted mug. Final stats: 17/111 OA, 13/63 Men, 3/27 M40-49.

My Cornwall Olympic Triathlon Progression

Nutrition Report
Breakfast - 50/50 bowl of Reeses Puffs and Honey Nut cheerios.
Pre-swim - 1 gel
Bike - 2 gels + 1 bottle of water
T2 - 1 gel
Run - water at most aid stations.

Bonus Round

Being presented with a special prize from Sportstats... I think I will write a blog post on this a bit later.

My mug in action.

Cornwall Triathlon... the prediction post

We're getting official T1 and T2 splits this year - woot, woot.

And with that, it's time for the annual prediction. But first, the excuses...

1. Swim - I'm feeling pretty good, but not as fast as last year. My shoulder injury at the end of last year kept me side-lined until March - overall swim volume is down. However, I swam pretty well in St. Andrews (salt water aided, plus perfect pack placement). I haven't swam much in my wetsuit lately this year, as the water has been warm enough to go without. Regardless of water temp on race day, I will be in the wetsuit - the extra speed is undeniable. I didn't have a great swim last year for some reason, so I will target to maintain that time.

2. T1 - Could be tricky this year with the new running track and nasty grass/weeds - add in sore feet (see run excuses below).  I'll target the same time as last year.

3. Bike - Much less bike volume this year compared to past years. But overall, my 40K speed and endurance seems to be up to snuff. Crr will be up this year, as the roads have an extra year of wear and tear - however CdA will be down, as I have an improved helmet (Air attack shield) that I'm certain is more aero and better suited to my head down riding. Last year was pretty amazing conditions for the bike - I can't imagine a repeat - but if the conditions are right, I should be able to come close to last year's time.

4. T2 - Will the feet hold up? see run excuses below. I'll target the same time as last year.

5. Run - Will it even happen? Will I DNF? I've been battling Fat Pad Syndrome. Basically, running is okay, but I can't walk for 2 or 3 days afterwards 'cause it feels like someone's been smashing the heels and soles of my feet with a hammer. As a result, I haven't been running, and therefore no specific run fitness - I'll have to fake it to the finish line.  Last year, I was on cloud 9 for the second half of the run, as I was confident I had a 2:30 finish time sewn up. I actually let up for the last 2k. I'm always gunning for 2:30, but I don't think I'll have the feet this year - so I am predicting a 50 to 52 minute run.

What does that look like:

Ouch, 2:32:40 - I'll try and find those 2 minutes and 40 seconds somewhere along the route.

Challenge St. Andrews Race Report

Well, that was interesting.

In a nutshell: Poor weather (cold and raining), Great swim (1.9K @ 30:13), long T1 (5:51) hilly bike (90K @ 2:50:05), safe T2 (2:11) smart run (21K @ 1:45:18). Final Time: 5:13:36. 49/267 OA, 12/40 M40-44

The Algonquin Resort. The Race Venue. (Picture from Trip Adviser, obviously not taken on race day).

T minus 2 days.
We arrived in St. Andrews on the Friday afternoon before the race. With just enough time to narrowly miss the closing of packet pick-up (forgot about the 1 hour time-zone change). Fortunately, they were nice enough to sort us out, and we got our packets and bibs, but more pressing - our Pasta dinner tickets.

The pasta dinner was nice, and we sat with some folks from Nova Scotia.There was a local comedian/triathlete guy who was keeping us all entertained. The food was good and plentiful. The head referee talked over the rules and such, and everyone awed at the size of the draft zone - as demonstrated with two bikes which had been set up.

T minus 1 day.
We got suited up in our wetsuits at the hotel room, and took a leisurely morning hike down to the swim area for a practice swim. The buoys were all set up and the course looked pretty straight forward. The water was cool, and got cooler in patches along the back-side, but it was dead calm. But even better than that, it was salt water, and it was fast. I did a practice loop in just over 30 minutes.. this was going to good!

We spent the rest of the day hovering around the expo and taking in Kingsbrae Gardens. We spent far too much time laughing at a horny Alpaca called, Philby.  Later in the day, we took a test spin on the bikes, and did the first 5K out -- uh, oh, it was pretty hilly. We decided not to fry our legs, and cut the bike ride to 10K. It was very cold on the bike, and it looked like we might be wearing jackets on race day.

Transition minus 1 (Night before transition setup)
We had to rack our bikes the night before. I don't like doing this. The racks were very high off the ground. Basically, my bike was hanging in the air. The disk wheel was like a sail and the bike would swing and sway with the wind. I didn't like this one bit. Knowing that this would drive me insane throughout the night, I tried almost every racking spot available, no luck. Where my bike was an inch off the ground, Guylaine's was probably 4 inches.

Transition 0 (Morning of, visit to transition)
We woke and headed down to transition. Our hotel room being in the building literally next to transition, it was an easy 2 minute walk. We checked on the bikes - and to my pleasant surprise, they were not strewn all over the place nor all tangled up. We pumped up the tires, laid out our stuff, and then went back to the hotel room to chill before heading down to the water. We could easily have chilled outside instead. It was 10 degrees, and misty... rain was forecast... great.

Transition 0.5 (Donning of the wetsuits)
Perhaps the weirdest thing about this race, was since the hotel was so close to transition, we were able put our wetsuits on in the comfort of our room, and not have to do any strange hopping or dancing in order to wiggle into them. With about 30 minutes to go, we set off on the 10 minute hike down to the water.

The Start
We were treading water, listening to last minute instructions. I think I heard the announcer say, the start would be in 2 minutes...

...I guess 2 minutes after that there was a slightly audible comment from a boat nearby, and what sounded like a whistle. People were looking around, and then all of a sudden  a group started swimming. "That must be it" I thought, and at the very least, there's enough people already swimming, they're not going to call us all back, so with about as little fanfare and circumstance as you could imagine, the race was underway.

The Swim - 1900 meters
The first 50 meters were a bit chaotic, but it settled down quickly, and and as luck would have it, I seemed to settle into a pack that were going the speed I wanted to go at....

...1900 meters later, the pack seemed mostly intact, and one-by-one we were done the swim portion. There was a clock set up on the beach, and I could see it roll over 30 minutes as I stood up. I was disheartened for a second. As I was hoping to go under 30 for the swim, but then I remembered I had planned on 33 minutes, so 30:XX was pretty good.

Transition 1
I exited the swim, and stripped the wetsuit (with a bit of difficulty) shortly after the beach. I then hurried on to the transition shoe area where we had minutes before dropped off a pair to soften the blow of the 650m +/- rocky trip up to transition.With my shoes on and wetsuit over my arm, I pushed on up the hill. And was happy to be greeted by Laura along the way... "you're doing really well, you're one of the first ones out!" The hill up to transition was tougher than I thought, and I had to stop and walk to catch my breath half-way up. Finally, I made it into the compound, picked up my bike, and got ready to ride. (oh, and by now, it was drizzling pretty steady). I decided to tough out the weather with bare arms.

Gasping for air with a mouth full of Cliff bar in T1

Decided not to push my luck with the "shoes on the bike" trick, heading out of transition

The Bike - 90 km (although posted as 91, but I only had 89.5 on my Garmin, so I think it's probably closer to 90).
Right out of transition, I put on my glasses (yellow lenses for the poor light), only to have them fog up instantly. The road to the bike course out of transition goes straight down a hill and a takes a hard right: I was essentially blind.... somehow, I made it without killing myself, or the guy right behind me. With the glasses now safely stored in my back pocket, I continue along the way.

St. Andrews bike elevation comparison.

I knew the course was hilly. But It was weird hilly. There was literally no flat spot on the course, you're either going up or down. And the climbs seemed to sneak up on you, where you'd be going downhill really fast, and then all of a sudden, you think you're going flat, but your speed is way low, and you're actually going up, and low and behold, you're in the wrong gear.

Knowing the course was hilly, I decided that the best way to go fast, was to not go slow. There's no point in losing time going slow on the climbs, so I pushed it as much as possible. I had set my Garmin up on the bike with 2 fields - the top line was current speed, and the bottom line was average speed. I had auto-lap set for every km, so I would know how far along the course I was. It probably was not the wisest strategy, but I was trying to maintain an overall average speed above 32. I had previously guesstimated I would average 31.2 for the course, but I mis-remembered that during the race, and thought I needed to keep 32.1. As it turned out, I did average 32.1 (higher than estimated), I was pretty pleased with that.

The bike ride seemed to take longer than it needed to. I was passed a few times, but never seemed to really pass anyone in front of me. I reminded myself that I was only racing me, and not to worry about getting passed.

Maybe this is the only flat part of the bike course? Photo by Christian Gallant.
Transition 2
After dismounting, and finally finding my spot, I picked up my small transition towel, which was soaking wet, and wiped off all the snot, gu and puke from my face. I had actually thrown up while biking (a result of exertion and chunky Hammer drink which was provided on course). Next up was my pair of soaking wet shoes. Put the race belt on, reset the Garmin, and off we go. It was a conservative transition, it felt like I was taking forever, but the timing company have me down for 2 minutes and 11 seconds, so I'll take it.

Coming up the last hill approaching T2 in the wrong gear.

Poor spectators standing in the rain (oh, thanks Laura for standing in the rain and taking my picture, and cheering for me).

Although T2 was relatively sparse when I got back, it still took me forever to find my rack.
The Run
I have this habit of blowing long distance triathlons on the run. My goal was a 1:50 half marathon. That was potentially do-able. I would aim for a 1:45 and plan for a 5 minute fade. That meant pacing at 5 minute kilometers.

I was feeling pretty good heading out for the run, and could have run faster than 5:00 pace, but I forced myself to stick to 5 minutes. I had the Garmin set up on one field: Average Pace.

The run was two out-and-backs, with a detour each time through Kingsbrae Gardens (which wasn't terribly great because of the narrow pea-gravel pathway, but they are the title sponsor - so why not). The run was relatively flat EXCEPT for the run back up to Finish area (we hit the biggish hill twice, and it sapped energy and time both trips).

Leaving transition.
Again, on the run, I was passed constantly, and didn't seem to pass anyone, but I was determined to keep my 5 minute pace. And I was very happy each 1000 meters when the Garmin chriped out the split, usually in the 4:56 range - with the exception of the hills at the end of the route. Having planned for a fade at the end, I was very happy to see that it didn't really happen. I slowed down only a little bit, but still managed to keep a 5 minute average right to the bitter end.

Despite the cold and the rain, the run was fairly pleasant. The tide was out and you could see a massive area of tidal beach on the way into town. The downtown area of St-Andrews was busy with spectators and volunteers, and it seemed everyone was in a cheery mood. There was definitely a good vibe.

The Finish
The strange part about this race, was that I had low expectations going in, I didn't even know what my time was. When I saw the race clock, I was honestly surprised. I wasn't even sure that I had a PB. It turned out that I beat my previous best (Last year's Tupper Lake Tinman, with a probably short run) by 3 seconds. Pretty neat.

The final 100 meters
Almost there.

The Splits
Bike Splits per KM. Pretty constant overall average despite big variances in per km speed because of hills.

Run Splits per KM. I think I'm most proud of this. Finally after 13 years of Tri-ing, I've figured out how to pace a run!
Breakfast - 2 bowls of Honey Combs, Banana, 2 cups of Coffee.
T1 - half a cliff bar
Bike - 3 Gels, half a cliff bar, 1 bottle of water, 1.5 bottles of Hammer Heed (course hand ups)
T2 - nothing
Run - 2 Gels, 1 cup of Red Bull (didn't like it), 5 or 6 cups of water

Wheel of MoJo, and a Race Prediction.

We have a race coming up in a few days. A half-ironman. The Challenge St. Andrews. 113 km.  My mojo has been on a roller coaster since Challenge Cedar Point. Four years of consecutive ironman training has taken it's toll and I'm tired. The last three weeks has had me almost riding rock-bottom. The year has been lackluster so far, highlighted by gluttony and nagging niggles (pulled left shoulder, weird right knee thing, and aching left ankle). I had resigned to just experiencing the event instead of racing it - in fact, I was "this-close" to not bringing my tri-bike due to several mechanical gremlins ...riding up to last night's club duathlon, the constant ping-ping-ping of my bottom bracket all but confirmed my non-race strategy... except...

Except, once we started the du, I got that little streak of excitement back. My first run felt okay, and for a change, the wind this week was only moderately strong in our face for the bike instead of insanely strong. I was first out of transition, and despite the ping-ping-ping of my wonky bottom bracket, it still took over 4 km for the speedsters to catch me, and once they did, they didn't leave me too far behind. I got back to transition with 36.6 kph average, (later to find out my second fastest bike split at the duathlon of all-time), a glance at the watch, and I knew I could call it in for a sub-53 - or I could turn it on for a near personal best.

200 meters into the run, and my legs were so heavy from a long weekend of cycling that I decided to split the difference and picked a pace somewhere between fast and furious such that I ran okay, but didn't unnecessarily burn up too many running fibers. I just missed sub-51 by 5 seconds. My best result so far this year - and back to peak-ish form from last year... maybe time to rethink the Challenge St. Andrews strategy.

On the way home, I diagnosed all my bike's mechanical issues, and planned how to fix them.  A short time later, I had the bike up on the stand -- rubber mallet in hand, whacking away at it. With the cranks off, I found the faulty bearing and re-packed it; I took apart the front brake cable, and re-set the lever - a quick spin around the block, and I was good to go. In fact, I was anxious for the morning so I could give it a real test ride.

As the morning broke, I suited up and went Strava hunting. There are two segments close by that I have a top-10 on... could I improve on them.... yes. The ride was great, and I climbed up to 2nd on "Tyotown-Summerstown", and 3rd on the "Devil's back".

And just like that, I feel like my mojo is rising again... can it peak on July 10th? I'm officially psyching myself up now for this race, and going out on a limb and predicting a 5:23 finish time:

Swim 33:00; T1 5:00 (long Transition); 2:53 bike (@ 31.2kph); 2:00 T2 and 1:50 run (@ 5:13 -- the run is my big weakness lately).

It won't be a half-ironman PB, but it will be pretty good for me.

Cornwall Run to endMS Marathon - Race Coordinator Report

"Be the change you wish to see." Maybe it was a Facebook post superimposed on a photo of Ghandi, or maybe it was a bumper sticker on a Prius - but somehow that quote resonates with me.

Two years ago, at the awards ceremony of the Run to endMS, it was mentioned that they were considering putting on a full marathon to celebrate 15 years of the event. "That would be awesome" was the collective thought amongst me, my wife and a collection of Cornwall multisporters. "They should do this... they should do that..." we had no shortage of suggestions on how and what "they" should do when "they" put on the marathon.

Fast forward 18 months: still no official word on the Cornwall marathon. My wife and I are planning our 2016 multisport season, and looking to squeeze in a Boston Qualifying attempt.  I called up Pat Clarke, the long-time race director for the MS run. "Pat, are you putting on the marathon this year - can I help?" And with that innocent offer, a Pandora’s Box of event coordinating madness was opened.

I’ll spare you the minutia; suffice to say, there is a lot that goes into putting on a modern-era event, burdened with all the entitlements we as runners have come expect. There’s a phrase long time race directors tell newbies - "You don’t know what you don’t know."

Fast forward to race day, 6:40 AM, the buses roll into Crysler Park and Marina. I’ve already breathed several sighs of relief by now (I’ve synched the starter's watch with Sportstats, the buses (finally) arrived to pick us up, most of the runners have been bibbed and chipped, we’ve left the college right on schedule, we’ve passed by Upper Canada Village and the first aid station crew is getting setup and ready to go). We’re on site with twenty minutes to go before start time: plenty of time.

It’s amazing how fast time can really fly. I’m passing out the last bunch of bibs and chips, signing the invoices for the buses, answering last minute questions. Concurrently realizing that I have to really "water the flowers", but more urgently.... poop - oh yes, forgot to mention I’m running the marathon too.

No time, "I’ll just sweat it out." Oh the humility.

8 minutes to go: Shoot, gotta get changed and ready to run. 4 minutes to go: Uh oh, we gotta get everyone behind the start line.... 2 minutes to go: last minute instructions to runners, "Oh and by the way, for some reason, someone parked a house on the road, at about the 500 meter mark, uhm, just try and go around it" - you can’t make this stuff up. A glance at the watch, 6:59:48, "12 seconds to go!" By the time those words leave my mouth, "okay 4...3...2...1...Go!"

"...for some reason, someone parked a house on the road... just try and go around it"
- - -

From all accounts, our inaugural marathon was a success. There are of course many things we noticed that will be changed for next year, but overall, everyone seemed really happy. We even managed to qualify 25% of our runners for Boston. We have been lucky to have the local MS Society manage and coordinate a lot of the behind the scenes things. The local mulitisport and running community here in Cornwall have really helped with the race. Our registration, aid station, bike-support, and race-support volunteers were all top-notch. Joe McNamara our resident graphic designer knocked the bibs and medals out of the park; and Cornwall Triathlon Race Director, Rob Allen, not only helped enormously at the half-way mark, but for the past 10 years has set the example on how to put on world-class event.

Thank you to all the local runners who came out for the marathon. Thank you to the TriRudy community for participating. Thank you for the 5K, 10K and half-marathon runners for providing a back-bone to the whole event for without whom, we would not have the base to host a marathon.

If there’s any moral to this story, I suppose it is this: Bumper stickers work. The next time you hear yourself saying, "They should do _______", challenge yourself, "Be the change you wish to see".

Run to endMS Marathon

Subtitle: So close.
Alternate Title: The LAST marathon I am ever running - I honestly mean it this time.

All smiles at 1.3 K.

Still running strong

The official pace band:

A planned negative split 51/49% with a finish time of 3:52

Planned vs Actual

Right on pace, until 29 K. 

The excuses - the wind was fro the East - it was much tougher than I expected along the Parkway. The Rollers from Guindon Park to Lamoureux Park were nasty.

The Strava -