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Having a Brazilian first thing in the morning

Picking a radio station to set your alarm to is one of the most difficult decisions you can make. I’m not exaggerating. Waking up badly has the potential to affect your whole day. When you pick a radio station you’re always taking a chance—there may be a commercial, an annoying song, an obnoxious radio host—you never know what the odds of having a good day are until you’ve spent weeks or even months with the same station.

This morning my choice of was finally justified. It’s usually hit-or-miss for me. Their hosts are pleasant, but the music can range from old-fashioned, to festive, to absolutely sublime. I caught the tail-end of this song this morning, which falls into the sublime category. Absolutely gorgeous. Double Rainbow by Stan Getz with João Gilberto.

I’ve heard a bit about how the Gilbertos are nearly considered royalty in Brazil, but I really don’t know exactly who they are or why. After a bit of googling, it’s surprising that that song even exists.

Brazilian João Gilberto created the genre of bossa nova in the 50s. In the 1962 he and American Stan Getz came out with one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time. The Girl from Ipanema became the post popular song from the album Getz/Gilberto. It featured João’s then-wife, Astrud Gilberto, who had never sung professionally before.

Following the release of the album, Astrud and João were divorced and Astrud became involved with Getz. It’s been suggested that the latter may have happened before the former. Astrud and Getz lasted only as long as Getz’ interest in bossa nova turned back to cool jazz.

It’s surprising that João would team up with Getz again ten years later with the album The Best of Two Worlds. Even more surprising that João would let Getz get anywhere near his new wife, Miúcha, who did the uncredited vocals on the album. The first track on this album is Double Rainbow.

What I didn’t realize is that João and Miúcha’s daughter is Bebel Gilberto, who was my first exposure to Brazilian music. It all comes full circle.

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Monday’s brick workout – how kick ass on your own terms

It feels a bit cliché to take out your day’s frustrations in a workout. There have been many days where I wouldn’t feel like going to the pool, but a couple hundred metres into a workout the background noise would just fade and my workout would become my only focus.

Let’s just say today I had a little harder of a time to focus. It was very tempting for me to sit on the couch and crack open a beer, but instead I pulled out my new love Dana and took her for a hard ride.

I rode down to my Cherry/Commissioner’s/Leslie/Unwin loop and started off with one medium intensity lap.

Home to Loop: 7.18k – 16:26 – 26.2 km/h – 128 AHR
Lap 1: 6.36k – 11:55 – 32 km/h – 151 AHR

On the second lap I dropped down a gear (the loop is nearly completely flat) and kept the same cadence (in fact I kept an average of 103 for nearly all laps).

Lap 2: 6.36k – 12:04 – 31.5 km/h – 150 AHR

Lap three I felt like pushing a more of a high intensity lap. Back up one gear.

Lap 3: 6.36k – 11:34 – 33.0 km/h – 160 AHR

Lap four was my time trial. I went up one more gear.

Lap 4: 6.36k – 11:05 – 34.4 km/h – 172 AHR

Lap five was a cool down lap, then I intended on going home. But by this point I couldn’t get myself to go straight. There was some unfinished business—I pushed for another strong lap. Aside from the heart rate variation (cardiac drift?), it was an identical performance to the first lap.

Lap 5: 6.36k – 12:34 – 30.4 km/h – 157 AHR
Lap 6: 6.36k – 11:55 –  32.0 km/h – 162 AHR
Loop to home: 7.16k – 20.5 km/h – 138 AHR 

Total: 52.5 km – 1 hour 48 minutes.

That was all I was planning on doing until I saw the front door of my apartment. I wasn’t ready to call it a day, so I ran in, dropped off my bike and threw on my running shoes. 

I was just going to do a quick 2k loop around the block. I wanted to just get a short brick in to get a feel for it, but once I started running I had this uncontrollable need to keep going. I started running south toward the lake, but when I got held up at a light I made a right turn. 

For the first 3k I didn’t look at my Garmin at all. I had no idea where I was going, when I was going to stop, what my heart rate was, and I didn’t care. I just kept running. It started to drizzle and rain. It wasn’t nice out at all. I didn’t pick a pretty route. I kept on running.

There was another runner on the opposite side of the street. I was slowly gaining on him until I caught up, passed him, and crossed the street right in front of him. That felt good.

Around the 5k mark I had a look at my average speed—11.2 km/h. I didn’t think I had held that kind of speed for so long before, but I wasn’t sure (since the bike computer has no pace display). This is where I set my goal of 10k.

There are a lot of things outside my control right now. But right there, right then, the only thing I could do was take the one thing I had control over and own it. I was going to finish that 10k run.

With 2.5k left I ran past the point in the road where I felt my tendon rupture last year. I tried to maintain my form as well as I could—I wasn’t going to let that happen again. It started raining harder, and the sidewalk ended. I ran down a big hill, trying to contain my speed. Trying to take advantage of the hill without making my injuries worse. When I got to the bottom of the hill my stride was so long I couldn’t control myself anymore. I had 1k left, and everything started to hurt.

From my IT bands to my tib post, to my quads to pretty much everything below my waist—everything was screaming out in agony, but the only thing I could do was keep running.

When I got back to my apartment there was no crowd, no cheering, no medal, no chip time. It didn’t matter that Thursday I’m getting the results of my MRI, which could very well keep me from running ever again. It didn’t matter that I had my personal best 40k bike split or my best 10k run ever. It was just me sitting in a puddle with steam coming off my body. All that mattered was that I finished.

10k – 54:49 – 5:28 pace

Fuck you Monday—I won this round.

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How to ruin a 6-year-old’s enthusiasm on a 5k run/walk

Kid: Piggyback me! Piggyback me!

Me: I can’t piggyback you.

Kid [jumping up and down]: Piggyback me! Piggyback me!

Me: I can’t piggyback you this year.

Kid [grabbing my arm]: Piggyback me! Piggyback me!

Me: Have you gained weight? You must be at least 50 pounds more than you were last year.

Kid: I’m 40 pounds now.

Me: Exactly. Last year you were like what, minus 10 pounds? That’s why I could carry you—you were actually helping me.

Kid [pinching my hand]: Piiiiiiiiggy back me!

Me: I hurt my foot last year, I can’t piggyback you. 

Kid: Piggyback me! Piggyback me!

Me: If I piggyback you for the whole race I will probably need surgery.

Kid: Piggyback me! Piggyback me!

Me: Okay, don’t you think you’re being a little selfish here? If I put you on my back it’s very possible that I will completely rupture my tibialis posterior tendon. Do you know what that means? It means that I will have to go to the hospital. They’re going to cut my leg open, and rip out what’s left of that tendon. Do you know what a tendon is? You see how you can move your small toes separately from your big toes?

[I make a motion with my hand, moving my thumb separately from my other fingers]

Tendons do that. Now they’re going to rip out a good tendon—the one that moves my small toes, and they’re going to put it my ankle where they just removed the broken one, then they’re going to screw it in place with screws. Then they’re going to take the tendon that moves my big toe and attach it to the short piece of the tendon that they didn’t remove, which moves my small toes. So after four months of painful recovery whenever I try to move my big toe, the rest of my small toes will move too. All the time. Just like this.

[I make a motion with my hands where all my fingers move together]

kid: I’m tired. Let’s go back.

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Ironman Syracuse 70.3 race report: Swan Lake – The Triathlon

Syracuse wasn’t exactly my first choice for my A race this year. Just before I realized that my injury was going to put a damper on this season I had already registered for Muskoka 70.3, which was one week before the race in Syracuse. After I knew I wouldn’t be able to run, I figured I’d still do the swim and bike.

When I thought I wouldn’t be able to do the bike I figured I’d just swim. But then when cycling became a possibility again, I planned on doing the race and maybe walking the run, depending on how I felt. Unfortunately a few weeks before the event I found out I had to go away for work.

Around this time I found out that Marlene, E, and L would be doing Syracuse, which is just a week after. Since I could just extend my training one week (which made up for the week I took off), the timing couldn’t have worked out any better.

You know how they say not to try anything new the day of a race? Usually they’re referring to new clothing, nutrition, shoes etc. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be using something as stupid as a new, unfitted bike. Meet Dana 5.


The week of the race I debated long and hard about bringing her down to Syracuse. I figured if I could get it relatively close in fit to my road bike, and if I could swap my short road bike crank over, then there shouldn’t be any problems, right?

I found the adapter for the crank, swapped it over, did some measurements, and everything seemed to be relatively close. The only thing was that the front of the seat was positioned a few centimetres ahead of the bottom bracket instead of a few centimeters behind it. If you don’t understand what that means, it’s basically that my position would be much further forward. Definitely not an exact match to my road bike. Since I had already swapped the crank over, I didn’t really feel like doing it again. Plus I had another couple days to tweak it.

For the play-by-play notes on the events leading up to the race, check out Marlene’s weekly training review.

For this event we were required to check in our bikes the day before. We got to the event location and E, L and I went out for a quick test of our bikes and bodies to double check that we were up for the task, while T and mini-Es waited. My bike was having some shifting issues, and my knee was not very happy at all. There was some pain under my patella, which I later found out is indicative of a seat that’s too high.

Back in the parking lot, I started making some adjustments. I couldn’t get my derailleur to get into the largest cog, which would make climbing the big hills pretty hard. I got it fairly close, but it was still unable to shift up. L suggested I get the mechanics to have a look at it in the transition area.

At the same time I made some adjustments to the seat positioning. I pushed it back closer toward where my road bike position would be. T was there to suggest that I lower my seat—there was too much extension in my knees. This is also where she basically told me that I was crazy for not taking enough nutrition on my rides. I’m glad I listened to her—between her and L that made the difference between me finishing and not.

The mechanic got my bike shifting better (not perfect, but close enough), and he also fixed my brake from rubbing. I hadn’t realized how bad it was until it was up on the stand.

I was actually more nervous about this race than I expected. I knew I could quit the run/walk anytime, but with the new bike I didn’t know if I would end up hurting myself worse. Those were a lot of changes to make the day before the race. Same with nutrition. I’ve never had a lot just before and during a race. The night before the race I had some really good Chicago style pizza (not really great Chicago style pizza from Chicago, but close enough), followed by some surprisingly good Greek and Middle-Eastern food for dinner. As a part of my fully-balanced nutrition plan, I didn’t skip the beer with lunch or the wine with dinner either.

The morning of the race (at the ungodly early hour of 4:00 am) we were greeted to this breakfast table in E’s room.


I’ve tried to avoid eating as much as possible since my bad nutrition experience on the bike in Gravenhurst and the severe cramping the week later in Muskoka. Considering those were shorter distances (with much higher exertion levels), I figured there was no harm in listening to everyone else and actually giving eating another shot. It was a pretty good bagel too. From there I started yamming gels, blocks, sport drinks, and anything else I could get my hands on.

We arrived at the race site around dark o’clock,


walked down toward transition,


and got body marked.


It was ridiculously chilly for a race morning. After setting up transition I walked to the swim entry barefoot through the wet. By the time we got to the start I was so cold that even my wetsuit wasn’t enough to warm me up. I actually had to wear a sweater on top. Did I mention it was cold? There was no way I was going to get in the water for a warm up, despite what E was saying about the water being warmer than the air—I didn’t want to have to get out of it!

The mist/fog coming off the water made for some great photo opportunities as athletes were warming up.


Here I am trying to keep warm with the characteristic Garmin bump in the back of my head. Totally hydrodynamic!


After watiting for the first handful of waves to head out (including L’s wave, which was five minutes before mine), our group entered the water to wait for the start.


The swim started off really well. For the first 700m or so I was about mid-pack—maybe in the top third. There wasn’t too much contact, and I held my own reasonably well. There were a lot of feet to draft off of, and everyone seemed reasonably matched up.

Once we hit the first turn, we were swimming right into the sun. It was completely blinding—I was completely unable to navigate. I tried to keep the other swimmers beside me and just hoped that they would go straight.

By the halfway marker I was pushing a solid 1:52 pace, which I would have been pretty happy with. Right at that point I ended up crashing into another swimmer. I looked up at the kayak and asked if the buoy beside us was the turnaround buoy. When the kayaker said no, the swimmer I hit yelled out “George!” I had actually run into L. Before the race we joked that I’d look for her on the course and swim with her, but I didn’t think we’d actually see each other.

Since I knew I wasn’t going to be running anyway, I didn’t mind slowing down a bit to make sure she had a good second half of her swim. The next 500m were slightly awkward, but by the last 500 we had settled into a good rhythm. L was off to my right and back, right in the V of my slipstream. I kept an eye on her and tried to keep the distance equal by unilaterally breathing, and she looked up to spot regularly too.

I think the slower pace worked to my advantage. My heart rate was much lower, and the walk to T1 was fun. It was nice to see L so excited at finishing her longest swim, and our cheering section was great to have. Super awesome swim.


Final swim time: 2000m – 44:27
2:18 /100m – 60/80 in age group


I opted for a wetsuit stripper—I’m not sure if it worked out all that well for me. My wetsuit got stuck on my wrists, and then again on my compression sleeves. Next time I should probably be a bit more generous with the vaseline.


T1 was done at a very leisurely pace. Since I was on a new bike that I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to manage a flying mount, I stuck around so L could watch. If I was going to dummy myself I at least wanted an audience!


My flying mount wasn’t that bad either. I didn’t know if I’d be able to get over the water bottles on the rear mount, but I did! Getting my feet in the shoes was a big fail, although I wasn’t too stressed out about it.

T1 time: 6:20

The ride couldn’t have worked out better. My gears were still a little improperly adjusted from the day before, but they held together well enough. It was unfortunate that there wasn’t a friction shifting switch on them, but I still managed to get them stuck in between clicks when I had to.

The hills weren’t as bad as I had expected. They were fairly steep, but I had no difficulty climbing them. Even by the highest point on the ride, 21k in, I was still averaging 21.7 km/h. Not bad considering the 400m of climbing. This was one of the more brutal climbs.


The first aid station worked well, and I picked up a Powerade without incident. Unfortunately there was still the foil in the top, so when I went to squirt in into my mouth nothing came out. I twisted it with my mouth, thinking that it was just closed, then it squirted all over me.


At the second aid station I screwed up pretty badly. I underestimated my speed coming in, and when I tried grabbing the drink I smacked it out of the poor girl’s hand. I felt so bad and tried to slow down for the next one, but the same thing happened. I could see the look in the volunteer’s eye when I came up, but it was too late. I think I might have screwed up the guy behind me somehow because when I turned around to apologize to everyone there was a cyclist who said “it’s okay, I’ll live.” Brutal. I finally slowed down enough to get a water, but I spent the next few kilometers kicking myself over it.

There was a valley where I got some serious speed going down. I had one arm in aero and the other on the front brake. I had to brake because of someone who was over on the left side of the lane. I was in the left, trying to find space to go around him, when someone else came up beside/behind me. He didn’t say anything, I had no idea he was there. I moved out of the way and braked, then someone came flying behind HIM. He really yelled at the rider who was blocking.

“[number] xxx, ON YOUR LEFT!!!!”

He moved pretty quickly, and I get why he did it. That’s a huge safety issue. I was traveling at 69 km/h at the time and that guy was going faster than me. He was probably in aero and had no access to his brakes. I would not want to try to get out of aero going at that speed!


The last part of the race was downhill and fast. In one downhill section there was another rider who was in the middle of the lane. This time I yelled—polite yet firmly “on the LEFT!” and he moved out of the way for me to fly through.

I ended up getting passed by him again while I was making an unscheduled tree break. This was the second time I had tree’d on the ride, but the first time I actually stopped to get off the bike to do it. When you’ve got a speed demon like E chasing you down you’ve got to make some sacrifices.


Overall it was the fastest bike which was longer 50k that I’ve done. My effort level was relatively low—my heart rate was only averaging 150. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Final bike time: 90 km – 3:03:22
29.49 km/h – 48/80 in age group


When I came into T2 I immediately spotted T in her bright pink top, where she, MJ, mini-Es were cheering loudly. T seemed surprised, I think because I was only expecting to average 27 km/h, and we were expecting E to pass me near the end of the ride.

This was another leisurely transition. For the first time I didn’t take my shoes off—I just clipped out. I still got off the bike moving, but I took my time to get it to the rack. I took in more nutrition, threw my shoes on, and started on my long walk.

T2 time: 3:31

This was a long, long walk. The support of everyone working and everyone cheering was awesome. It was hard to force myself to keep walking. When Marlene caught up to me during her leg of E and her relay (their wave started long after mine), I tried to keep up with her a bit to see how she was holding up. That didn’t last long. Even though it looked effortless to her, I couldn’t keep up.


Thanks to the extra liquid nutrition (I didn’t hold back at all at the aid stations), I had to visit every port-a-potty along the way. They were spaced about a mile apart, which was absolutely perfect timing for me.

On my second lap I started to run a little bit here and there. Someone in my age group passed me, and I did what I could to try to keep up with him a bit. I was lagging behind him until I saw L, who was still on her first lap. I went back to walking, and we caught up on how our races were going. She had gotten a flat 15 km from the end of the bike section, which by that point had killed any chance of being able to finish before the time cutoff. On top of it her knee was giving her problems, so she decided to call it a race. She stayed behind at the last aid station to get a ride to the finish, then I ran the last 2 km to the end of the race.

I was super stoked to come back to the finishing chute where Marlene, T, MJ, E and mini-Es there cheering and taking photos!


That carpet is pretty supple looking, eh? In the rulebook it states that “no form of locomotion other than running, walking or crawling is allowed.” I suppose if one were to crawl that carpet would be a much nicer surface to do it on. I’m not sure if they were planning on people tripping on it.

The result was by far my most graceful finishing photo ever. I call it Swan Lake – The Triathlon.


“Run” time: 21.1 km – 3:24:20
9:41 min/km – 76/80 in age group


And that’s how I became a “lower-case i” ironman.

Here’s the elevation profile and heartrate/cadence data from the whole race (you can ignore the elevation changes in the swim of course).


Check out Marlene’s full race report. Here are Marlene and E after their race. Thanks to both of you for letting me use your pictures from the event.



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Guelph Lake II race report

Because of my foot, this year I’ve only been able to do relays, swim/bikes, or just DNFing full triathlons. I’ve had some great races, but it’s been frustrating and anti-climactic to get to the end of a race and just hand in or give away my timing chip. I finish my race, then hang around for everyone else to finish.

Two weeks before the Guelph Lake II try-a-tri, I successfully did a couple trial runs which didn’t even hurt my injury. There was a lot of pain in other places, but I was able to run 2k without the telltale pain that I was making my injury worse. I had to go for it so I could finally finish a race this year.

The morning of the race I tried to find time to pick up a non-fat latte to alternate between drinking it and my three scoops of Perpetuem, but I forgot my race belt, and had to turn back home. Then I left again, and realized I forgot my bike shoes.

For the third race in a row this made things pretty tight for getting registered in time. Considering the 1:30 start, I thought I’d have more than enough time to watch a bit of the sprint. That didn’t happen.

After registering, setting up transition, and warming up, I strapped my video camera to my head and hung around for the start of the race. I was in the third wave, and I was feeling super confident about rocking the swim. I was fully expecting to come out of the water in the top three, maybe even higher. Once the horn blew I ran like mad.

I got in a few dolphin dives, and sprinted for the first 50m or so. I was leading the race until I realized that there was no way I could keep up that pace for 400m. I also didn’t know if I was going the right way, since there was a kayak in front of me with people hanging off it. I hesitated, then two guys passed me. One of them hit me in the face. The rest of the swim was pretty long.

Here’s the hit to the face.

I still ended up getting out of the water in fourth place. I had an amazing T1, passed three guys, and started the ride in first place in my age group!

This wasn’t a bad bike, but it wasn’t particularly good either. I managed to hold on to the lead up until the turnaround, when the leader caught me and passed. I tried to hold on to him as long as I could, but my heart rate was soaring. Every time I checked it was in the mid- to high-180 range. I tried to let off a bit to give myself some time to recover, but I was feeling too inspired to let go. I kept pushing. 


During one of my heart rate checks I ended up dropping my Garmin. I hadn’t mounted it to the bike, so when I reached to grab it out of my pocket it just flew out. Looking back at the video it looks like I only lost 30 seconds and one place. But in a try-a-tri 30 seconds is a hell of a lot of time. 

Coming around the final turn I got cocky and jumped a speed bump. I dropped my chain. I spent about a minute trying to finesse it back on. I debated coasting the rest of the way in, but I managed to get it back on with barely enough time to take my feet out of my shoes. I lost another place there.

I came into T2 in fourth place, but I completely rocked it. I had an amazing flying dismount, had no problems finding my rack space, pulling off my helmet and throwing on my shoes. I left T2 in third place. I still felt pretty good. My heart rate was still super high, and for me on the run it only gets higher.

I tried running the entire distance, but I wasn’t able to keep it up. I walked up the first hill, and the rest of the time was spent walk/running. 

I still had a few great games of leapfrog. I was running more or less the same pace as the guy who ended up in seventh place. He had passed me a couple times, but about 700m or so from the finish I went for it. I passed him and a swack of other people and finished up really strong. I could hear someone yelling “don’t let him catch you!” 

He didn’t catch me. If you listen closely you can actually hear it in the video.

My heart rate during the final sprint was topped out at 200 bpm. It has never been that high, even when I tried a max HR test a few years ago. I’m almost surprised I lived through it.

All in all it was a great race, and I not only am I glad I actually managed to finish the race, but I’m ecstatic that I ended up in 6th place—even if it was just a try-a-tri. I learned a lot about how important pacing is (even in a race this distance), the importance of transitions, and what mental errors to try and avoid. It actually played a big role in how successful I ended up being two weeks later at the Syracuse Half-Ironman.

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You can’t win them all, but sometimes you can still sneak in late goal

The lead story for September’s Graphic Arts Magazine issue is a preview of GRAPH EXPO in Chicago next month. We’ll be bringing this issue down to the show, and hopefully some people will find value in using it as a guide. The tagline for the show is Embrace Technology.

The marketing material for the show displays that quite literally.


I wanted to take the embrace a step further. How good of an embrace can a handshake be? After the initial rush of ideas, I decided to get my insipiration from two album covers. Have I mentioned how much I’m still loving the Washed Out album? 


When I emailed the rest of the crew at the magazine, this is how I pitched it (somewhat tongue-in-cheek).

This is a powerful cover, because it combines the disturbing feeling you got when you found the secret cache of your parents’ anniversary cards, with the idea of hooking up with a robot, all set to a Chicago skyline. Plus it’s extra creepy, because WTH is sexy about printing?


Let’s just say I was asked to come up with some alternative ideas—specifically to come up with one that used a supplied generic show floor shot.





I kept trying with variations on my theme, revising and cleaning up—hoping that I’d get the go-ahead on one of them. Unfortunately I couldn’t win, and we ended up going with a variation on the trade show floor cover.


It was the right decision, but despite the fun involved I was still a little disappointed. Maybe I couldn’t get the cover I wanted for the magazine, but I was still able to sneak in a little win.


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Last weekend’s training

Last week was my longest training week since July 09, when I had just completed my 322k+ Hairshirt ride. The next month I started learning how to swim, so really this was my longest triathlon training week ever.

It started off with a 2.15k Wilcox swim with E man. It was his first 2k outdoor swim, and he did a great job. He’s going to be racing in the Toronto Island Triathlon this Sunday, and he’s been spending a lot of time in the pool. It’s really been showing. Last year we were only able to get to the first buoy (about 200m out) before having to turn around.

It took us 56:51, but that included a lot of stopping and hanging out—my moving time was 41:26. I even got a nice sprint in for the last 230m.


From the lake we met up with L and did a couple laps of Holland Landing. 45.25k in 1:55—sometimes I love social rides. 


The next morning was not a social ride at all. 100k from the city out to Ajax and back. This was where I shot the video for my last post. 3:56 isn’t very fast at all compared to my shorter distance races (averaging 25.4 km/h), but I’m okay with that. It was more of a matter of getting the distance in, not injuring myself, and trying to figure out pacing for Syracuse. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

I wasn’t concentrating on heart rate very much. I’m trying to dial myself into the 145 range for these distances, but I only ended up down at 136. I want to blame the missing morning coffee. My average heart rate went up 4 bpm after I had it, but my average speed also dropped 0.9 km/h (however being an out-and-back ride, there was a lot more climbing on the way home).


One of the great things about having the camera on all the time is the random stills. There was the couple doing Tai Chi by the beach.


The bridge connecting toronto to Pickering


No need to explain.


It’s okay, I’m safe here. Only “cyclists” have to dismount.


I’ve got dozens of smiling and waving runners and cyclists. Early risers are the friendliest bunch.


I was feeling great by the time I got home. My injury hasn’t been bothering me much, and I was full of confidence. So I figured why not try going for a really short run. I can concentrate on form, thereby avoiding using my injured tendon as much as possible. I know what signs to look out for now. I was just going to go to the longest street in the world and back (about one mile), but once I started I just kept going along my original running route.

I can run again. I only did about 2.15k (same as the swim from Saturday), but my pace was actually faster than it had ever been! My GPS deleted the exact run info, but I noticed I did it in about 11:30 before it was erased. That’s in the 5:25 range! 

Since then my tibialis anteriors (both of them) have been sore. They’re about at the point where I think I can do it again (five days later). I’m okay with that. Shin splints I can work around. I don’t know if I really want to do the math on this but if I can increase my mileage 5% a week, I should be doing a marathon in no time, right? Almost? 61 weeks, plus 25% for recovery is 76 weeks. About a year and a half. Wow.

It’s not that I’m already looking for short cuts, but I’m sure that you can’t really start with one run a week. So if it takes me three months to get up to four 2.5k runs a week, I’ll be starting at 10k a week. That’s workable. Then it’s 30 weeks, plus the 12 it took to get there, plus the 8 for recovery, then we’re only looking at 50 weeks total.

There’s a possibility that I’ll be ready for a fall marathon next year. If I can do that then there’s no reason I can’t do a late spring / early summer ironman the year after. All based off one eleven minute run. My fingers are crossed.

Of course all these plans can change. My MRI is this weekend, and I’ll be finding out the full extent of my injury. Surgery might cut a bit into those plans. BAH!

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3 hours in the life of a cyclist. This is what my Sunday morning looked like.

Trying out my camera on the first 75k of a 100k bike this past weekend. The mount was slipping a lot, but it was still a gorgeous ride.

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3.8 km L.O.S.T. Race report: last weekend’s time got smoked

Melanie Price’s completion of her 42 km Lake Ontario crossing yesterday morning in Coronation Park must have been fresh on my mind, because that’s where I drove to first this morning. It was about ten minutes out from the race start, so I got to pass the exit point of our swim. The 4 km felt like a really long drive. By the time I got there, conditions were absolutely perfect. You couldn’t have asked for a better morning for the start of the fourth annual L.O.S.T. Race.


Registration was quick, got a water bottle, and…


…numbers on the hands. I got a power of two!


Rob Kent with the pre-race meeting.


This time I actually remembered the Vaseline and applied it generously to my shoulders and jawline.


I managed to snag a photo with Melanie Price. She looked so fresh I would have no idea she just spent over 18 hours swimming yesterday. YESTERDAY! She’s my new hero.


The race its self was great for me. Since the last two weekends I’ve been going sans-wetsuit, I figured it wouldn’t be much of a challenge to put it on for this. I was going to debate whether I’d enter the naked class or not on the way down, but since I forgot my wetsuit anyway that decision was made for me. I’m glad it worked out that way.

The start was pretty relaxed. No pushing and shoving, and there were no restrictions on drafting. I didn’t find many people to draft behind, but when I did it was a welcome relief. I set the auto-lap timer on my GPS for 500m this time, which is probably the ideal distance for me. Since I swim near 2:00, that makes it very simple when the beep goes off. If I’m right on 10 minutes I’m right on pace. It worked perfectly.

I started off fairly easily, and tried a few different things out. This time I kicked MUCH more. It felt right, and I could feel my feet wanting to come out of the water. It might not have helped much with propulsion, but I was much flatter. I credit the one swim I had during the week. Last Wednesday I made it in to an early-morning session with Ayesha, and it helped me find my form again. At the beginning of the session I was struggling to push 2:00, and by the end I was doing solid 1:50s. Still slower than the 1:42s I was hitting at my peak earlier this year, but for one hour that’s a great improvement.

Sighting was a little tough, but checking out the GPS track it looks like I was actually really straight!


My 500m splits worked out really well. Every time the lap timer went off it looked like I was getting faster and faster. I lost a bit of time by stopping to check my watch, but it was well worth the help it provided with pacing. I think we had a bit of a current helping us. It felt much faster than usual. My splits broke down like this:

1: 9:57 (1:59 per 100)
2: 9:52 (1:58)
3: 9:57 (1:59)
4: 9:28 (1:53)
5: 9:27 (1:53)
6: 9:16 (1:51)
7: 9:04 (1:48)
8: 5:15 (1:45 (over 300m))

For the last 700 m I was experimenting with a totally different breathing pattern that I picked up by watching someone as she was completing the 10k race last week. She was taking two breaths on the same side, then took three strokes and took two breaths on the other side. Every second or third sequence of three strokes she would sight. When I watched her she looked very mechanical and structured, so it appealed to me. It worked awesomely for me. I was in need of more air because of all the extra kicking I was doing, and that definitely supplied it. It was a bit harder to maintain a straight line, but I think with a bit more practice it might be a good strategy for me. Considering my last splits I think it’s something worth exploring!

My final (official) time of 1:12:25 may be slightly misleading though. Aside from the perceived current pushing us ahead, I think my sighting was a little too good. I may have cut the course slightly short, by swimming directly to the pier instead of following the shoreline. There were a few times one of the kayaks was nudging me over toward the shore. I definitely stayed inside where she was pointing, but… When I overlapped my GPS track with a straight line in Google Earth, it showed that the actual distance I covered was 3.7 km. Not a huge difference, but I technically still haven’t completed a full Ironman distance swim.

This was a super fun event with a huge turnout. For the final results and a full writeup, check out the latest post on the L.O.S.T site. I’m going to join them as soon as I can, they really seem like a great bunch of people to swim with. Two of the people I spoke to often come from Barrie and Ottawa to swim with these guys. I need to HTFU with the drive—it’s really only a half hour from downtown. Even Wilcox and Musselman Lake take that long.



After the race I got a ride back to the car from Steve, who I had just met on the way to pick up our bags. He was at the event last week and entered the 10k race. He wasn’t able to finish it before the thunder (he was only 1000m from the finish), but I learned a lot about some of the swims he’s been doing this year, and what he has planned in the future. He’s been doing a lot of swimming in the NYC area, and this year he’s going to swim from New Jersey to Manhattan. Awesome. He went from not being able to swim not so long ago to this.

Before this chat I was thinking about only entering the 5k swim in Welland next year. Now I’m thinking 10k might not be out of reach at all. Today I felt like I could have gone forever. Maybe I actually can! With 10k open water swim being in the Olympics it’s actually quite an approachable distance. Almost like the swimming equivalent of a marathon.

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Welland MSO Open Water Swim race report

After yesterday’s epic 101k loop of the Muskoka half-iron course I felt like I could use a day to recover. So I packed my speedos and headed down to Welland for the Under the Four Bridges MSO Open Water Provincial Championship race. Well at least I got to sleep in a bit, since it was an 11:30 start.

Because last week’s outer ear infection hasn’t completely cleared up yet, I brought an ear plug for the right side. On the drive down I tried a test fit, but I couldn’t make a seal. Heating it up on the windshield heater vent worked surprisingly well—not unlike what I imagine a hot ear waxing might feel like.


I got there just in time for the start of the 10k race.


Someone was actually crazy enough to attempt the entire race doing butterfly.


I picked up my race package, and packaged my other package into my butter speedo. It’s getting close to retirement for this one. I do feel slightly awkward around little kids. The hot pink swim cap didn’t help either (second pink cap in a row)!


We boarded the bus for the pre-race meeting, then were driven to the start 3km out. I was surprised to hear that there is no drafting or contact allowed.


The entrance into the canal.


As I was setting my auto lap settings on my GPS, I overheard someone asking if a stroke timer would be allowed in the race. It clicks or beeps every 1.3 seconds so that the swimmer could keep steady. The official radio’d the question in and it was okay’d. I asked him if GPSes would be allowed, and he “doubted” it. 

I’m sure I could have made an argument that it’s not really an aid during the race, particularly if I hadn’t set the auto lap. But there’s really no harm in just swimming for the sake of swimming. Someone involved with the event said the third bridge we went under was about 1 km away from the finish, so I’d just pull a split off that. Watches were still allowed, so why not?

My race was pretty good. A little slow, but good. I wasn’t there to sprint, I just wanted to finish relatively strongly. I passed a few people in the beginning and then for the next hour I was all alone. I passed time by switching from my usual bilateral breathing to a different count (I’m not sure what it’s called, but it’s three strokes breathing every second stroke, then five strokes without breathing). It was fun to play around a bit and see how my body would respond. I played around with head positioning, twisting my mouth. It was just relaxed and fun. 


Under the second bridge I made a mental note that I was around 34 minutes, and I hit the third bridge at exactly 40 minutes. If the third bridge was 1k from the finish that would have meant that I was on track for a 1 hour finish (at 2:00/100m). I used that info to calculate the approximate distance I was from the finish, so at 52 minutes I knew that I was exactly 400m away. It looked a little bit further, but I picked up my pace anyway. 

When I finshed the race I checked my watch and saw that I finished in 1:09. Where did the extra nine minutes come from? A quick gmap-pedometer revealed that the bridge was actually 1.2 k from the finish. That sprint that I thought was 400m from the finish was actually more like 700m. It makes sense why I ran out of steam earlier than I would have liked.

Here you can see the marks on the front of my shoulders from my stubble rubbing it. I forgot to bring vaseline to prevent that. What you probably can’t see in this picture is the irritation from the level #1 armpit trim. Mental note for next time—that’s too short!


I was still a little disappointed with a finish of 2:20/100m. I know I’ve never done that distance before, and I’m really happy about that, but I was hoping to get under 2:00. That’s a big difference. Last weekend I was swimming at 2:00 naked, so I should have been able to keep in that range. So I’m really not sure why. Plus without the GPS track I can’t see how bad my navigation was (although it was a very easy course to sight, being right in the canal). At least it’s a good prep for next weekend’s 3.8k L.O.S.T. race.

About ten minutes after I finished my swim there were reports of thunder on the other end. They ended up pulling everyone in, then the wind picked up and it started pouring. If you can’t tell, hot pink was the theme for the day. Here I am hanging out with Ken, who was first place in my class and the overall winner of the 3k race.


I think about half the 10k racers finished, but none of the 5k swimmers were able to before being pulled. Standing in front of me in the last picture was a woman who was pulled from the 10k when she was only 500m from the finish. 

Here’s Ken accepting his award…


…and me in second place with my medal!


This is where I leave out the fact that there were only two competitors in my class, which really is too bad. The distances might be a little longer than most triathlons, but it’s a really nice, laid back event. There’s no pushing and shoving at the start (in fact contact is not allowed at all), the course is well marked, the water is warm, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to go home with hardware (if you care for it). I’ll definitely be coming back next year.

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