Tremblant 2019: What happened?

When I exited the finisher’s recovery area, the first question Christine had for me (after asking if I was alright) was “are you disappointed?” I had just finished my first competitive full-distance Ironman, dropping nearly 3 hours off my last attempt at this distance, six years ago, with a 10:06 finishing time. 15th in my highly-competitive age group (out of 258) and 86th overall (out of 2396). I could still feel the buzz from the crowd and the electrically charged finish on my skin—disappointment was not a feeling I could understand at that point. However, it was a valid question. Christine knew how high I had set the bar before I even signed up for this race.

The battle for the overall win in this race was between two pros from Ontario; Lionel Sanders and Cody Beals. In a way, their battle mirrored my own battle. For the record, I typically don’t care about sports personalities. They’re just people who are good at a sport—what makes them any more interesting than the random person running beside you in a race, or in line for coffee? The difference for me is that these two pro athletes are both local (I’ve even raced in the same events as them), approachable, friendly, and I can directly relate to the way both of them present themselves.

Lionel is all heart. When he shares his thoughts and feelings on his YouTube channel, he is very genuine. He’s passionate about his sport, and his dedication is as you’d expect from a pro. His emotions dictate his actions, and because of that, he pushes himself far beyond the limits he should have set for himself. Sometimes that strategy works. Sometimes it causes him to crash miserably. He’s also fiercely independent. He has fired his coaches and prefers to make his own mistakes and then learn from them, instead of trusting in the counsel of others. He overcooks, then dials it a bit back a little bit from there.

That has been my default strategy even before I started triathlon. I would race cars the same way. Push beyond the limits, upset the car, learn how it drives when you exceed those limits, then dial it back to the point you’re at just before you lose it. The more I think about it, the more I can see how it applies to how I handle everything. When I do IT support, I will cause faults in a system to see where it breaks, then use what I’ve learned to fix it better. Same with building websites. Instead of learning how to build something cleanly from scratch, using proper protocols and programming principles, I hack something together, break it, then figure out how to make it work better and in less time than I would have on my own.

There is another side of me that’s in constant tension with my heart. There is the engineering side of my brain, which will methodically parse data, prepare and run simulations, practice, visualize, and use every tool at my disposal to make sure that when it comes down to it, there is only one attempt that matters.

I’ve always had a little bit of this analytical and methodical side of me in other endeavours, but with triathlon, and especially in long-distance it has become crucial. While you can have a full season of sprint and Olympic-distance triathlons during a season, you only really get one or two attempts at a long-distance A-race per year.

Cody is all brain. He has a BSc in Physics, and uses it when he regularly goes into very technical analysis into very technical triathlon-related minutiae on his blog (his lengthy technical mathematical analysis of whether and why setting a treadmill to 1% incline is ideal for simulating running outdoors stands out as the type of rabbit hole I would go into had I more education). His training is very structured; he’s methodical, calculated, and patient; his racing strategy is very similar.

The two halves were very well balanced during my training. I would rely on the brain to make sure the structure of my workouts were in place, then the brain to push through them. Sometimes the heart had a chance to stray from the workouts, so the brain had its turn afterwards to analyze how well I adhered to them and to make any changes as a result. It didn’t hurt that most workouts were at a comfortable effort level, and didn’t require as much heart as the ability to watch and learn videos.

The lead up for the bike – brain 1, heart 0

Using Xert I was able to train myself to push big power numbers on the bike, and then to build enough endurance to take advantage of it for the duration of the race. I’ve gone into the technical details on Strava on how I set my targets, but basically I was able to build myself to have the strength that I had on the road bike at my peak two years ago (nearly 300 watts at threshold), but in my aero position on my tri bike, and with the endurance to be able to hold a high percentage of it for a long time.

Not only that, but I backed up the estimates using heart rate data (using a peak heart rate that was 15 bpm lower than I previously used as an estimate, simply because I hadn’t reached that peak heart rate this year). Then with a week and a half to go before the race, I did another test to triple check my targets for the race. My threshold only registered as 285 watts. But using Xert’s estimates for long-term power I could see that it actually corresponded with the TSS-based estimates, as well my heart rate-based estimates.

All three methods pointed to a conservative target of 220 watts for this race. I used that, as well as a conservative calculation of my aerodynamic drag to build three different race simulations in Best Bike Split. I then took those simulations and simulated them in Xert to see which one gives the best tradeoff between carb:fat ratio used during the race and finishing time.

You could call my three race plans “easy,” “conservative,” and “aggressive,” but even the most aggressive one was conservative compared to the ones I had used in previous races—when my heart had control of the keyboard. All of them came below 220 watts normalized. One used the Best Bike Split default settings, one was 10 watts lower, and the other had lower peak power surges to limit the amount of carb burned. The night before the race I chose the most aggressive one.

The lead up for the run – brain 2, heart 0

My run training was by comparison, very boring. I stuck with a straightforward plan for the duration of my training. Four runs per week: 8k brick (after biking), 12k base, 16k base, and 21-32k long. I would do intervals when I felt ready for them, but never more than once a week. If I felt fresh, I might do 5x1k intervals on my 12k run, up to 8k tempo on my 16k run. That was it. No recovery days, but a very gradual build-up of distance. The same plan that helped me qualify for Boston last year: my training was more-or-less identical.

My run plan had me simply running at my long run base pace, which I had run the vast majority of my training miles. I was to hold 5:00-5:10/km, which would have resulted in a 3:30 marathon. I wasn’t sure what to expect once I started at that pace, so I’d reassess every 10.5k and make changes accordingly.

The lead up for the swim – brain 2, heart 1

The swim was a total wildcard for me. I haven’t been swimming at all this year or last. Like next to zero. The only reason I’ve been able even to consider doing triathlons is because of the base of swimming that I had developed over the last eight years swimming with Ayesha and Team Atomica. It’s been about 450 hours worth. That base was enough for me to have a 35-minute 2000m swim (about half an Ironman swim) in Welland this year, compared to my previous best (when I was at peak swim shape) of 32 minutes on the same course. Not bad.

In the leadup to this race, my taper schedule had to undergo some modifications due to life. I delayed my long swim from the Tuesday before the race to Thursday. And I swam. I really swam. I got in the water, and I didn’t want to go back and get out. I would pick a buoy far away as a target, and once I hit it, I would pick the next one and go for it. My sighting and open water skills got pretty sharp during this swim. When I checked my distance on return, I saw I hit 5k. Three days before the race. Oops. I was only supposed to be out for about 3, and even that was probably a bit more than I should have at this point.

I justified it after the fact that I would experience super-compensation.

Aside: Super-compensation is the basic training theory that predicts that immediately following the decrease in fitness following a workout, your body then experiences a jump slightly above your baseline. This is when you plan your next workout. You perform your next workout when you’re on this peak.

Typically super-compensation to prepare for races is only done on a macro level. Instead of taking advantage of your fitness from one day to the next, we will use weeklong and monthlong cycles—this is not the ideal way to do it.

I did experience quite the boost in confidence after this, despite my swim pace dropping after my first 3300m.

The lead up to the race – brain 2.5, heart 1.5

Our family was lucky enough to be able to have three weeks of vacation around this race. We spent a few days at home, but we spent most of our time in Tremblant and Meaford. The only problem travelling with a 3 1/2 year and an 18-month-old is the unpredictability, especially with sleep. Oh man, sleep. Sweet, sweet sleep.

I had a reasonably solid schedule for taper. The week before the race, I was able to have a beautiful ride on gravel roads with no power meter. My only focus was concentrating on having an enjoyable ride (my favourite of the year). The timing of workouts had to shift around a lot, though. I spent a lot of time getting all my workouts scheduled before the week, only to have to shuffle everything around, hoping for the best. The kids were a bit of a handful, and sleep was. Did I mention sleep? Even with all the help, there was little time for that.

Race morning – brain 2.5, heart 2.5

Thankfully the kids let me sleep through the night before the race. There was little drama, and I was able to wake up on my own, just before my 4:20 alarm went off. I had everything ready, and all I had to do was get to transition to insert the foot pod in my shoes and pump my tires.

I was proud of myself for being smart enough to take Christine’s bike down to transition. I would save the 1.3k walk to transition, and then the 600m walk to the swim start. That’s a lot of time on the feet saved! I rolled down, had my tires pumped, inserted my foot pod, and got back on the bike. As I put my morning clothes bag over my shoulder, I felt a rip and I saw my wetsuit hanging out. I wasn’t sure what to do. Would I end up in a mad panic if I tried to find a replacement bag, or would it be better to trust that it’ll hold? Or can I find someone to give my morning gear to?

Now that the three shots of espresso and double dose of beet juice were kicking in hard, I thought the best idea would be to ride back to the chalet and put my wetsuit and goggles on there. Uphill, of course. Hard. Because at this point I was super hyped and ready to go.

It was a relief to know I didn’t need to worry about anything after the race, but I was starting to sweat a bit, especially after I put my wetsuit bottoms on. But whatever, it was race day, and maybe I could consider that a warmup? I was lucky to end up riding beside my friends in the race, Erica, Troy, Andy, and Mike, with Laura, Heather, and a surprise with Donnacha and Mike as support. I was super happy to get a chance to see them, as they grounded me a bit from my squirrely state.

I positioned myself in the rolling start corral exactly where I hoped to finish in my best-case scenario. Slightly faster than 1:10, but no more than the 1:08 I had done in Tremblant six years ago.

The swim – brain 2.5, heart 3.5

The swim couldn’t have gone any better than it did. I found a great pair of feet to draft from and stuck with them for the first half. The swimmer went super straight—she almost went right under the buoys. Because I was drafting off her right side, I actually did go under the buoys a couple of times—I had to duck under a few of them. My effort level may have been harder than I should have. It’s hard to tell, as I have no heart rate data to refer to, but it just felt good. I wasn’t sure if my watch was giving me the correct pace, because for the first while I was showing an average of 1:35/100m, which was about as fast as I’ve been in any race of any distance. But I kept on.

After losing her, finding good feet was hard. So many swimmers would randomly veer off from swimming straight at sharp angles. I don’t understand what they were doing. I would scan ahead for open water and rely on my own navigation, to keep out of the mess. I learned that just heading directly toward the buoys is the best strategy. If you go under, so be it—it just proves you’re swimming straight. Just point right at the buoys, instead of trying to keep a consistent 5-10m off to the side, as I’ve done in every other race I’ve done!

I had to do a double-take as I exited the water when my watch showed a 1:05. That was a massive PB on the swim. My pace was right in line with what I had done in my half-ironman swims when I was at my all-time peak swim fitness! I was super hyped. The swim is where my race started to differ from this year in Welland.

In Welland, I had a 35-minute swim, but my effort level was very easy. I went into it just thinking that I’d be happy to get out of the water, and there was zero pressure to go fast. Looking at my heart rate data (which was available), I didn’t push very hard at all. So when I went into the bike, I still held on to this calm feeling. My brain won the swim and the bike in Welland. This race was different.

And lookie here, it’s @ironmandy himself!

The bike – brain 3, heart 4

I was buzzing at the start of the bike. I was super happy to see Andy getting on his bike at the same time. I don’t think he expected to see me and didn’t realize I was there until we passed back and forth a few times. From there, my Garmin was working fine, giving me power targets, and I happily obliged.

The only pacing issue was that I was pushing a little harder to pass the other competitors cleanly. There were a lot of bikes to pass (Cavin who was watching at home said I had passed 250 people on the bike), so there wasn’t as much of an opportunity to follow the pacing targets exactly.

My targets had me at 220 watts normalized, and 210 watts average. That would allow me to push a little hard up some hills, when it’s advantageous to do so, and lay off on downhills and flats. It theoretically should give the fastest bike split possible.

Aside: Normalized Power is an equivalent power estimate. The concept is based on the idea that when you push harder, especially closer to and above your threshold, the physiological effect is much higher than what your average power would suggest. For example, if you’re pacing at a constant 220 watts, your effort would be very flat and consistent. You would find your NP to be 220 watts and your AP also to be 220 watts. If on the other hand, if you held 220 watts on the flats and pushed hard up the hills, your NP would rise quickly, while your AP may increase just a bit. You may see a 225-watt average power, but more like 245 watts normalized.

While my Garmin was dictating my targets for hills, based on my plan in Best Bike Split, I still had to rely on my feel. I still believed my targets were a bit conservative, so it was okay—I would make up for it on the second loop when traffic was minimal. I still think that was a solid play. However, with the changes in the bike course, and the general issues my Garmin has following a multiple-loop out-and-back course, I didn’t get any alerts for most of the course. I knew most of my targets anyway, having simulated this race at race power a few times in training, so it wasn’t a huge deal.

I was making good time on the first loop, still riding the buzz. My Normalized Power was around 225, with average around 215, but I felt really good! Singing songs out loud, reminding fellow cyclists that we just caught lightning in a bottle, and this is our best race ever!

About three hours in, on the second loop, I had the first sign that things weren’t going to go according to plan. My legs were feeling a little bit tired. I knew from training that when this happens, it’s not the end of the world. But I also knew that it didn’t bode well for the rest of the workout. I knew right then that I wouldn’t have the race I was hoping to have.

An hour earlier I was dreaming of finding a phone so that I could book an Airbnb for the World Championships in Kona. I knew I was going to qualify. It was lightning in a bottle. Now I was just looking forward to getting off the bike.

I tried to avoid using the K-word in the months leading up to this race. I made it my internal motivator. I would visualize me crossing the finish line in nine and a half hours, hearing my final placement, and knowing I had a good enough race to get a slot. Christine knew that I felt like I had a chance. Some people who were tracking my training and analysis on Strava could tell too.

When pressed for an answer on if I thought I would be capable of qualifying in this race, my response was that there were too many variables for me to speculate, and I would try my hardest. When pressed harder, I would admit that like my first failed attempt at a Boston qualifier, I was going to fail. I only didn’t know how I was going to fail yet. I needed to have the experience (my heart had to push beyond my capabilities to learn how to scale back).

I knew that there are too many factors outside my control on race day to expect to be able to qualify, but like many people who are within spitting distance of the pointy end of the stick, I had a strong hope that it would happen anyway.

I had a choice to either push through and try to maintain my pace and possibly sacrifice the run, or to adjust my targets way down. I ended up doing a bit of both. I didn’t want to completely give up, as I didn’t know what I would be able to handle during the run, but I also knew that I’d fall apart before I even had a chance on my feet if I tried to hold my original targets. Also, the wind by this point had become quite stiff. While I took advantage of it on the way out 117 on the second loop, it took a mental and physical toll on the way back.

My next lesson came around for the final climb up Duplessis, 160 km into the 180 km bike. I realized how much nutrition I had left, sticking to the bottom of my bottle. I never had to mix my drink so thick in training, so I didn’t know I wouldn’t be able to drain the fluid entirely out. I realized I had taken about 350 calories too few during the bike—about an hour’s worth of nutrition.

That said, I didn’t think that would have that negative of an effect on my race. Based on my simulation of the simulation in Xert, I would only use 1200 calories worth of carbs on the bike, which coincidentally was about how much I took.

The plan was that I would be able to start the run completely fresh (at least from a glycogen store perspective). I was planning for a surplus of calories on the bike, making up for what I used in the swim. I’d still have a 100% full store of glycogen in my liver and muscles; all saved just for the run. At least that was the idea. Based on how I felt, I’m not sure if that was the state I was in at the time.

The run – brain 3, heart 5

I felt like garbage at the start of this run. I had pains in the arches of my feet that I had never felt before. I felt like I was seconds away from a full-body cramp. Once I started running, I began to feel pretty good. Everything loosened up, my feet felt better, and I was able to have conversations with fellow athletes.

I ran with someone named Andrew, whose watch malfunctioned back in the swim. He didn’t know what pace he was running at, so I was able to help him pace for a short time. It felt good; we were holding around 5:00-5:10 until the first hill, right as planned. It was here, during the start of our first loop, the race leader, Lionel had passed us as he was starting his second loop. We were encouraged by this—it meant that the race leader was only about an hour and a half ahead of us!

As we passed an aid station on a hill, I missed the hand up of a gel. When I reached back to grab it, my hamstring completely cramped up and seized. I had to stop and sit down.

A volunteer hung out with me while I spent three minutes waiting for the cramp to go away. I didn’t think my race was over, but I suspected it might be a brutally long haul to the finish. He offered ice for my hamstring, and I took it. Usually cold is a trigger for cramps with me, but I took it anyway. It seemed to help in this case. I thanked him and hobbled off for the rest of the run.

My hamstring felt progressively better as I ran, and the just-about-to-dive-into-a-full-body-cramp feeling subsided. I saw the second-place athlete bike pass me, followed by Cody close behind. The pro race was looking to be quite entertaining, even from my perspective on the course. A few years ago, I purchased Cody’s used wetsuit from him on the website Slowtwitch, so as he passed, I mentioned how that was the reason I just had my fastest Ironman swim ever. He laughed and said “that’s awesome”—clearly he was feeling pretty good at this point.

At this point in the race, I started the inevitable race math phase—using fuzzy math, which of my goals were still achievable?

  1. Kona slot – no
  2. 9:30 finish – no
  3. 9:59:99 finish – I only need to hold 5:30/km, so yes
  4. finish with a 10:xx showing on the finishing clock – yes
  5. finish running – more-or-less
  6. finish in the daylight – yes
  7. set a PB – absolutely!

The run became quite fun. I went back and forth with Andrew a few times—encouraging each other as we passed. I saw Erica, Troy, Andy, Mike, Sean, Jeanna, Kim, and Clare all on the course. There were smiles all around. I was super happy.

Aside from a little dizziness and nausea, most of what I was feeling was as expected. I didn’t know how it would all turn out, but I was making forward progress and felt mostly… okay… I guess. My biggest mistake was when I tried to adjust my nutrition on the fly. I wasn’t sure if I was digesting and absorbing the food I was taking in on the run, so I thought I could use some salt. Because that’s what triathletes need, right?

There was a BASE salt tent handing out samples right at the end of the first loop. They handed me a vial, and thought I’d find some salt pills inside. Instead, there was just a bunch of pink salt on the bottom. I didn’t know how much was there, so I just took it.

I should have taken the water they were offering (I didn’t see any), because the ensuing burn was very very real. I didn’t realize until after the race that you’re only supposed to lick your finger, dab some salt on, lick it, then follow it up with water—not down the whole thing. Furthermore, there was no water anywhere on the course until way later. I started off feeling thirsty. Then it just burned. It burned so bad. After the race I had a look at the label. I had just taken 20 SERVINGS IN ONE SHOT!

The burn started in the mouth and spread down my esophagus, and into the top of my stomach. I could push through it because the excitement of seeing everyone at the halfway point was amazing! But after coming through onto the second loop, this became quite unbearable. I took a banana, all the water I could find, and (big mistake) some Red Bull. I just hoped it would go away before it tore apart my whole system from the inside out.

At this point, I was able to see the race leaders’ final push to the finish. With a few km to go, Lionel ran past with his typical lopsided gait and focused and determined expression. Right behind him was Cody, who had just gotten Lionel in his sights and by the look on his face, he was even more determined than Lionel to catch him.

The brain went on to beat the heart.

The expected “why am I even doing this?” feeling kicked in around the 32k mark. This wall wasn’t as bad as it had been in my first Boston-qualifying attempt in Hamilton, but it was still a huge effort to push through. I started walking the aid stations, and maybe a little extra at points. I stopped looking at my pace and just tried to hold on as best I could. My stomach mostly recovered, and I was able to finish relatively strong, considering.

The highlight of my finish was seeing Catrina with Christine and my dad while I was coming down the finisher’s chute. C&C put up with so much to get me to this point that I was super grateful to see them still smiling after such a long day of spectathleting!

When I exited the finisher’s recovery area, I was super stoked to have finished with such a good time. When Christine asked if I was disappointed, I told her “no way!” There were a lot of goals that I was able to hit. I already had a few hours to get over the disappointment of not hitting my best-case scenario goal already, and I was more than happy with how it all turned out. I may not have qualified, gone under 9:30, or even gone under 10 hours, but I did the best I could, and it was so far above anything I had ever been capable of before, that there was no way I could be anything but ecstatic!

So what happened?

After taking some time off, looking at the data, and talking it out, I’m still not entirely sure. With my list of contributing factors below, it might sound like I’m building a list of excuses. I’m just trying to figure out how to fix this for next time if I’m ever in a position to do this again.

1: A short bout with overtraining

The first potential setback was immediately following Welland. I performed better in that race than the data would have suggested I would have been able to do. My functional threshold was likely actually higher than when I had built my plan.

So after the race I adjusted my threshold power. All my targets increased. My 210w race target became 235w. My functional threshold went from 280 to 290. All of it seemed to work, and it was correct. However, what I failed to do was historically adjust the data to show how I got to that target.

I was stronger than I thought, which meant that I was working out at a lower intensity than I was capable. Which ironically turned out to be the ideal way for me to train. There’s a saying where you need to keep your easy workouts easy and your hard workouts hard. Well in retrospect, easier was the right intensity. If I had adjusted my historical data, I would have seen I was already doing this and wouldn’t have made a massive increase in my intensity in the weeks that followed.

i.e. I did multiple race simulations as my long rides on weekends. What I was really doing was race simulations at 90% of my race intensity. If they were actually 100%, I would have been exhausted and needed more time to recover. But I didn’t need any extra recovery time at all, at the effort I was doing it at.

That was the cause of my overtraining. I didn’t realize it at first, but I had the classic symptoms right after I increased the intensity. I was constantly tired. I was hungrier than usual. I ate enough to gain an extra 5 pounds. My workout targets were harder to hit. Ultimately my functional threshold dropped.

After a few days completely off, and a week and a half of reduced duration and intensity, I went back into my training. I didn’t know where my targets would be, so I did one final test a week and a half before the race, to confirm my targets.

The race confirmed my targets, but also took a higher toll on my body than I anticipated. I didn’t think enough to simulate the workout before I did it, to see if I had enough time to recover. I knew it wasn’t the best idea, but I just wanted confirmation that I was doing it right. It took more than a few days to recover, which was probably at the worst time during my training.

2: Doing all my training indoors

Avoiding doing all my training indoors is one that I haven’t been able to work around yet. It’s inescapable with two young kids. I figured out how to make it work timewise, but compromising and riding indoors is still a different experience.

The pain in my feet off the bike was a completely new feeling. It was likely because I was spending a lot more time with weight on my feet. Indoors I don’t move much, just put my butt on my seat and evenly distribute it 1/3 arms, 1/3 butt, 1/3 feet. When you’re riding outside, everything changes. There was a lot more pressure on my feet.

My quads were also asked to do something that they hadn’t needed to do before. Going down hills and tucking my knees into the top tube, lifting off the seat for bumps. These are things that don’t happen inside. There are a lot more support muscles that are asked to do more when you’re outside.

Also, riding indoors, I didn’t have a chance to test my nutrition solution (literally). The pooling on the bottom of the bottle didn’t have to happen, but I never had a chance to know this would be a problem.

Mike Reilly himself calling in Xandermander at the IronKids finish line.

3: Rest, or lack of it

I did not get enough sleep leading up to the race, particularly in the last two weeks. We spent time away, but the kids don’t sleep very well when they’re not home. I got about 4-5 hours average a night leading up to the race. I thought I would be able to caffeinate through it, and I did in a way, just not in a way that let me prepare for the race.

The days before the race, I was also busy being a dad. I wouldn’t trade that time with the kids for anything—it’s not a regret—just the reality of the situation. They are pretty demanding at this point. Running with Xander while he napped on my shoulder during his first IronKids race was priceless. But looking at all my trips into the village, up the hills, around on the bike, up Duplessis, down again, and all around… might have been better spent sleeping. At least if doing well in this race was my number one priority.

4: Incidentals

If I had a smarter nutrition plan (with contingencies) for the run, it would have helped a bit. I don’t think cramping was due to anything other than overexertion (I spent a lot of time considering this). Having a little more confidence in my position and my gear would have helped.

Ultimately though, having a dedicated coach would have helped more than anything. I feel like I am good at self-coaching, but some things take an outside eye to catch. A coach would have immediately spotted my overtraining. Building a more solid taper and race day plan would have been forced by a coach. All the little things would have been handled well by a coach. When do you listen to your brain, and when your heart? I would have seen these things if I were outside myself. If I were coaching someone else, I would have pointed them out and guided them around it. But when it’s yourself, it’s hard to see.

Ultimately my heart won my internal battle. But like when Cody managed to pass Lionel for the win in the leader’s race, it would have worked out a lot better if my brain were in charge. My brain would have seen this all and come up with a better plan to make it all work within the restrictions that I had.

What’s next

I’m not sure what’s next for me. I wanted to sign up for another full in six weeks in Chattanooga or Maryland, using what I’ve learned to try to have the perfect race. I think it is a bit too much. It’s too much money, too much time, too much effort, too much risk. It’s a shame to let this fitness taper off for the season, but I’m not sure what to do with it. Doing Barrelman is an option, but I don’t want to think about this until I have fully recovered. I’m raring to go for a run right now though, so signs show I’ll be out of this phase pretty soon!

Next year it would be great to try another full. I would love to get a chance to do St. George again (with its 75 Kona slots up for grabs and moving into the 45-49 age group bracket, there could be 5-6 slots up for grabs in my age group) but I think the demands of the family will be too much to make that happen. 2-3 halves during next season would be nice, combined with a fast marathon in Boston perhaps? Maybe focusing on short-course for a couple of years again, mixing lots of group rides with the Morning Glory crew. There is so much fitness to be gained that way—it is what turned me into a competitive athlete the first time around.

There is lots to consider. So we’ll see.

Super special thanks to Christine for not only putting up with my triathlon-obsessed lifestyle but doing everything in your power to help me get to the start line to achieve my goals! You’re the number one member of my team. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of it without you!

Also, thanks for the pics of the IronKids race, and for trying to get me out to swim Erica. And thanks to Ayesha for the years of swim coaching—it actually stuck with me! And thanks to Armando for the help and guidance with using Xert to reach my highest potential on the bike. And thanks to George and Christine for making our stay in Tremblant way better. And thanks to Kim and Troy for providing the motivation to actually sign up. And thanks for all the kudos and encouragement from friends/riding buddies/strangers on Strava. And thanks to the other friends who were along for the ride (in some cases literally). I hope we’re all able to do this again!