My 2012: Adventure Racing

Saturday morning (28 April) I took part in the SuburbanRUSH 30km Adventure Race at Buntzen Lake, which is about a 1 hour drive from Vancouver.  I had heard great thinks about the hiking trail network and amazing lake views so was super excited to check it out for the first time.

In fact I was rather excited at the unknown challenge that lay ahead.  The race course details and distances are not announced until you pick up the map at the start line, while the mystery challenges remain just that until you happen to stumble along them out on the course.  It was refreshing to enter an event with no idea what lies ahead, no idea how long it will take and no personal best time to try and achieve.  No pressures, just hit the trails and have fun!

The event started with a 6km (ish) trail run.  One of the rules is you have to carry all the mandatory safety gear with you around the course, so running uphill with a half-full backpack was a defiante shock to my system!  I certainly did not race around the trails, but I still put a decent pace on, finishing the run in 30 ish minutes.

Next up I hopped on the bike and hit the singletrack immediately.  This was the most frustrating part of the race as the track was so congested and the trail so narrow that it was impossible to pass people.  Note for next time – run harder to get away from the crowds!  Luckily after 2/3km we hit a road section where locked out the front suspension fork and managed to zoom past some of the other competitors.  Just a wee note on my bike – its AWESOME!  Perfect for this type of event, I actually saw many other Giant Trance X1 bikes on the course.

The hardest section of the bike came about 2/3 of the way through with a 500m (1500feet) climb up a very loose gravel fire road.  Hardest, but also the most enjoyable section for me.  I love the challenge of me vs. the hill and rode up the whole way.  My legs were on fire at the top of the hill, I was so happy to hit the flat and excited knowing it was all downhill from now on.  Well I soon found out that’s not the way these adventure races work.  The relief of finally making the top was washed away when I had to jump off the bike and run through the forest to find the hidden checkpoint!

Back at the bike it was all downhill singletrack back to the finish line.  Awesome smooth lines, berms, a few small jumps over drainage channels on the trail, whizzed passed a few competitors fixing punctures and prayed that wouldn’t happen to me too.  Nothing difficult, all ridable.  Best of all – no people in my way.  I guess the climb up the hill gave me some breathing space and I was luckily able to take the downhill at my pace.

Back at the start line I was handed another map with 7 checkpoints to find.  Simple navigation around the hiking trail network for 4km and I was soon crossing the finish line for a total time of 2 hours 30 minutes – a full 30 minutes faster than I expected.

Although this was just a ‘fun event’ for me and not a ‘race’ I was eagerly waiting for the results to come out next day.  I was very surprised to finish 19/146 overall.  Now I am left pondering ‘What if I try to race it next year?’…

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My 2012: Vancouver Sun Run 10k – Race Report

Hey guys, so its been a while since my last update.  Truth be told my training hasn’t been great for the past 2 weeks – it started with a mini-cold, morphed into Easter weekend and then into the Passover holidays.  I did get in a few swims, one very fast run, a couple of bike rides and finally got out on my mountain bike a few times as well.

To see my training log, click here.  I am updating this site with my training stats as its simply much easier and faster than writing a blog every time I workout.  I guess it does not include my gym / strength training sessions though…

So Sunday was 10k race day – the Vancouver Sun Run is the largest 10k race in Canada, attracting 50,000 runners each year to celebrate the start of the running season and the beginning of decent weather! The route is spectacular, starting in the middle of downtown Vancouver, skirting Stanley Park, following the beach at English Bay, great views across the Burrard Bridge and a fast flat run across Cambie Street bridge to finish in the newly renovated BC Place Stadium.  Definitely a race to consider if you find yourself in this part of the world!

My game plan was to hit 5k around 22minutes (same pace as my triathlon 5k), easy off a teenie weenie little bit until 7k and then build each 1k a little faster into a sprint finish.  Basically it all went as planned, hitting 1k in 4.23, 5k in 22 something and finishing with a new personal best time of 45.30.  Given that I have only been out running 10 times this year, im pretty chuffed with that result.

I wonder what my time would be if I can do more dedicated run training??

Next mini-goal = break 45 minutes

Next larger-goal = hit 40 minutes

I have entered another event in 2 weeks time, the SuburbanRUSH adventure race.  Mountain biking, trail running and mystery challenges await.  Until then… training hard, finish strong.

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My 2012: UBC Reflections and Spring Progressions

Hello, me again, I’m back after taking 1 week rest after the triathlon.  The rest allowed me to reflect on my training, the race and what kind of training I should embark on until my next Tri in 10 weeks.

The question on my mind is straightforward – where can I gain the most time?  And the answer is simple – the bike.  Other guys in my group were up to 5 minutes faster on the bike than I was, and since the bike takes up about half of the overall sprint time, this is where I can find the most gains.  The bike is also the most frustrating for me as my my leg strength limits me much more than my cardio fitness.  So… more power on the bike required.

In my mind when it comes for road bike endurance training there is only 1 guy to learn from .  Chris Carmichael was Lance Armstrong’s coach when he won 7 Tour de France titles in a row, after beating cancer!  I stole a ‘New Cyclist’ program from his book ‘The Time-Crunched Triathlete’ and started working on it this week…

Basic program outline for the next 11 weeks is:

  • Monday – morning swim, afternoon gym
  • Tuesday – bike and run brick
  • Wednesday – morning swim, afternoon gym
  • Thursday – bike (hill training) and run brick
  • Friday – rest day
  • Saturday – bike (speed session) and run brick
  • Sunday – longer endurance bike

The bike training program goes into a lot more detail than I am going to write here, but I will outline the basics of each session during my weekly training blog report.

For the gym sessions I am going to be using full-body workout program called ‘300’ which is basically 300 reps of various body weight exercises.  The main aim here is to build a solid foundation and increased muscular endurance.  This session will be done as a circuit, starting with 60 seconds rest between exercises and gradually reducing the rest until |I can perform the full routine without resting.

If all goes to plan this 10 week (ish) training block should see me maintain my current swim ability, improve my leg strength and therefore bike speed, develop my confidence in running fast after the bike section, and finally develop a solid muscular endurance foundation.  Am I asking too much??  Maybe.  But reach for the stars and all that good stuff…

Thanks for reading!  Any feedback and suggestions defiantly welcome 🙂

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My 2012: UBC Sprint Race Report

I was a tad worried about race day weather, given that we had 2/3 days of constant rain before the race, and reports of hurricane winds due to batter Vancouver any time soon.  Luckily the weather gods managed to sleep all day Sunday, allowing us to wake up to a cool and dry day – perfect conditions for racing.

My heat was not due to race until 11.50am, so I had a long sleep on Saturday night and a very relaxed morning.  By 10.50am I had everything organised in transition and was ready to race.  I did have a small panic when the buckle on my cycling shoe refused to open but thankfully I was able to fix that quickly then head away to the swim start and warm up.

As we were organising out heat into fastest –> slowest swim times everyone got quiet a shock when a swim team decided to enter on race day.  Their estimated time of 8 minutes for a 750m swim was causing quiet a commotion from the age-groups further back in the swim queue.  The swim was fairly straightforward – we were stagger 10 seconds apart and had to zig zag up and down the lanes, eventually finishing on the other size of the pool.  My swim was pretty solid.  I caught a few swimmers infront of me at about 400m into the race, then from 550-750 played tag with the guy infront of me.  I passed him, he passed me… then I realised it was much easier just to draft off him as we were obviously swimming the same speed, so I cruised the final 200m behind my tag buddy.  Lesson learnt – draft and save energy if the guy is the same speed as you.

Out of the pool I whipped on my pool shoes and darted of on the 300m run to bike transition.  I was please how efficient my tranistion went – shoes off, top on, socks on, shoes on, helmet on and GO!  No fiddling, no messing.  Only more equipment upgrades could make this faster I think i.e. having triathlon specific cycle shoes already clipped into the pedals and not wearing socks.

On the bike I stuck to my game plan and held back a little on the first 5km (ish).  High cadence, low gear.  The next 10k I slid into the drop bars and gave it my all, averaging 40kph on the slightly downhill outlap, and then about 27kph on the uphill return.  The intention was to ease up a little for the final 5k, but given most of this was slightly uphill, I figured slowing now would really effect my overall time, so kept going pretty hard.  I did manage to get into a lower gear and increase my cadence for the final 1.5km and so gave my legs a small ‘recovery’ before the run.

Bike to run transition was also smooth -jump of the bike, rack it, helmet off, shoes off, runners on and GO!  I dont see how I could have done this any faster.

Game plan for the run was basically to give it all from start to finish.  The first couple hundred meters I could feel my left calf cramping, but this soon eased off once my confused muscles worked out what I was trying to do.  Looking back, I feel like I could have pushed a little harder on the run.  This is the hard part for me as a new triathlete.  I worked harder than I planned on the bike, so if I started the run too fast maybe I would have crammped and not finished the race?  Or be left a crawling mess dragging my sorry ass over the line.  Only more experience will answer this question.

Either way its fair to say at the end of the race I was well and truely goosed.  But I was confused and disapointed when I saw the clock (regualar clock, there was no race clock for some reason).  I started at 11.50am so was hoping to finish about 1.05pm, but the time was 1.20pm – therefore 15 minutes longer than I expected and 10 minutes slower than my first triathlon!  WTF???  Surely not???  I was feeling pretty disheartened for the next hour until I heard someone else tell a similar story.  To add to the misery, my name was not on the time sheet when the results were printed!  So I left the event feeling pretty dejected – I busted my gut on the course, and after 4 months of training I was 10 minutes slower!

To my relief this was all ironed out when the official race results were posted online Sunday night.  My time was 1 hour 21 minutes, with a 12.17 swim, 46 bike (including both transitions) and a 22.22 for the 5k run.

Now here lies my mistake – I estimated a time of 1 hour 15 for this race based on my performance at my first triathlon in Septemeber.  What I did not remember however was the bike course at my first tri was only 18.5km, not 20km (my bike computer actually tracked the bike course as being 20.5km).  So I was wrong to be disapointed with the same overall time as my first triatlon.  YAY… all that training actually did pay off!

To complete the comback from misery to elation I was please to see that I had finished 3rd/19 in my age group and 29/240 overall.  Should have stayed around for the medal presentation eh!

In summary:

  • 1 hour 21 minutes overall
  • need to get faster on the bike
  • 22.22 for the 5k was a new PB
  • my first medal since I stopped swimming 10 years ago
  • “2012:  My Return to Competition” is now a true statement, not wishfull thinking.
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My 2012: Tapering for UBC

Saturday night – the night before the race tomorrow.  It been 5 months since my first triathlon.  Since then its been 4 month of training, eating, sleeping triathlon as well as spending every penny I can find on triathlon gear.  I have just completed a 1 week taper that should hopefully see me well prepared and ready for a strong race tomorrow.  This was my week:

Monday 5 March – Cutting back the swim to 750m today, Sprint Tri distance.  An easy 250m warm up followed by a race pace 750m, with another 250m mixed strokes cool down.  Got lost in the world of  ‘trying to go to fast’ and my technique suffered the consequences.  750m in 11.43

Tuesday 6 March – easy cycle commute today, 12km in 30 something minutes

Wednesday 7 March – another crack at a fast 750.  This time I kept my stroke long and smooth and powerful and it paid off.  My time was 11.32 and effort level was much lower.

Thursday 8 March – BRICK session 15 minute spin to warm up, 2 x (5min level 3 bike, 5 min level 3 run) with 10 minutes spinning and then some stretching to cool down.

Friday 9 March – rest day.

Saturday 10 March – race day prep and mini-triathlon to practice my transitions.  Did a 400m swim, 6km bike and 2.5km run with 1 min-sprint about half way through each event.

So there you have it.  Race day tomorrow.  The weather man is predicting a ‘chance of rain’ which I would be quiet happy with, as long as its not heavy downpour.  I have set myself some simple goals:

  • Swim – dont race!  keep the stroke strong and smooth
  • Bike – high cadence for the first 5k, gun the bigger gears for the next 10k then lower to easier gear and high cadence for final 5k
  • Run – hit it hard from the start and dont give in ‘its only 5k!!’
  • Overall – a solid race should see my finish somewhere in the region of 1 hour 15 minutes

Race hard, finish strong.  Wish me luck!

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My 2012: February Summary

February summary:

  • Swim – 8 workouts, 13200m, 3 hours 43 minutes
  • Bike – 11 workouts, 218km, 9 hours 56 minutes, averaged 22kmph
  • Run – 1 workouts, 9.5km, 56 minutes, averaged 6.03 per km
  • Bricks – 3 brick sessions, both indoors
  • Strength – 6 sessions of weight training
  • Yoga – a measly 1 Yoga class

Overall for Feb – 30 workouts in 23 days, with 6 rest days.

January Summary:

  • Swim – 9 workouts, 11600m, 3 hours 19 minutes, average 1.43 per 100m
  • Bike – 4 workouts, 55km, 2 hours 34 minutes, averaged 21.5kmph
  • Run – 4 workouts, 24km, 2 hours 10 minutes, averaged 5.26 per km
  • Bricks – 2 brick sessions, both indoors
  • Yoga – a measly 1 Yoga class
Overall for Feb – 30 workouts in 23 days, with 6 rest days.

Overall for Jan – 20 workouts in 22 days, with 5 rest days

It is clear to see that running is my least favourite event.  Although I have also been running in the brick sessions so its not as bad as the run stats suggest.  I actually feel like I am running pretty well and am definitely looking forward to a hard fast 5k on race day.  Maybe I am being complacent – it is only 5k after all.  Once the weather picks up I will definitely increase the running so I have specific running fitness for a fast 10k.

I feel a little less guilty for having a couple of days off now that I can compare the stats for Jan and Feb.  It clear that I increased my training frequency and duration.  The intensity of each session remained the same.  Not surprising that I was feeling a little worn out at the end of the month.  Phew.  Not as bad as I though.

PS – Look at the ‘Swim’, ‘Bike’ and ‘Run’ pages to see monthly training stats for each discipline.

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My 2012: Base Builder – Week 4

I’ve had enough of feeling tired and unmotivated, and after a few days rest I am determinded to get back in the game this week.  Race day is getting closer and I dont want to blow all the training I have done so far.  I knew ahead of time I wouldnt be able to train on Monday due to some changes at work, but hopefully the rest of the week will go to plan…

Monday 27 Feb – no training today

Tuesday 28 Feb – a scheduled rest day.  actually putting a bright red tick (rather than a x) on my training calander felt positive today, even although I did not actually train.  small positive steps…

Wednesday 29 Feb –   back in the pool!  Felt horrible, with bad timing and rhythm, but most importantly I’m back at it.  1500m in 26.50

Thursday 1 March – Brick session.  10 minutes spin warm up, then 2 (5min bike zone 3, 5 min run zone 3, 3 min recovery spin) and then 5 minute spin and stretching to cool down

Friday 2 March – rest day

Saturday 3 March – took my bike out to explore Vancouver airport this morning, then returned home via SW Marine drive and 49th Ave.  Great cycling conditions weather was cool and dry and he airport roads are well maintained, long and straight  flat roads with very few traffic lights.  Looking forward to another longer trip next time.  Did 25km in just 70 minutes, averaging 21.4kmph.  Top speed was 48.6kmph on SW Marine.

Sunday 4 March – 1 week until race day!

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