Friday, 7 November 2014

Reasons to work with a Coach

The dust has barely settled on the 2014 race season and we are already looking forwards to next years race calendar.

We had a funny old year with good runs at Around the Bay 30k, a very tough weekend of survival and racing at the American Triple T in Ohio, both fun and disappointment at Ironman Couer D`Alene in the `Summer` followed by great races and PB`s to finish off the season at Ironman Barcelona in October.

We have now had a full month of NOTHING and getting going again with our annual November run focus month. The month off has given us time to recover, both physically and mentally, and think about what we would change next year from a training perspective.

I am lucky enough to have my very own live-in Coach and I respond well to knowing that someone has their beady eye on me and this is often in my thoughts when I am training and racing. I like to try and produce good results knowing that when they pop up on Training Peaks, my performance management chart will look good and I have achieved what was detailed in the plan. I also appreciate a good bit of down to earth honesty when things have not gone so well!

We are all motivated in different ways though - click the link below for a great article on why you should consider getting yourself a good Coach ...


If you are interested in chatting to us about Coaching opportunities then please get in touch, it does not matter where you are - we have clients in Canada and the UK. Give your 2015 race season a boost and email us at

Happy training and stay warm!!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Ironman Barcelona 2014 Race Report

After our storm affected exploits at Ironman Couer D’Alene in June we were feeling a bit frustrated and decided to take on another 2014 race before the end of the season. It also gave us the opportunity to experiment with double peaking for 2 ‘A’ races in 4 months. We switched our training around for the 12 week block in the run up to the race with more shorter, faster sessions to replace the long endurance rides and runs. We also had a significantly reduced taper and kept training daily right up to the race. I liked it. 
Barcelona also tied in conveniently with our 10 year wedding anniversary (I guess we could have just gone out for dinner!) and gave us the opportunity to see family whilst getting the chance to nobble a race in the sunshine**

**Lesson # 1; Never make assumptions about the weather!!

We have raced BCN previously in its first year as a Challenge race and it would be interesting to see the difference in its inaugural year under the Ironman banner.

We were pretty rushed in the run up to our departure with one thing and another and didn’t really start packing until the day before we left resulting in a couple of check list failures including race nutrition, sunglasses and a Zipp disc wheel co2 adaptor amongst other things. All stuff that we could get at the Expo**

**Lesson # 2; Never assume that you can get what you need at the Expo!!

We arrived in Barcelona without any of our usual problems, other than being at the mercy of Air Canada Rouge and their cut every corner long haul flight experience. If you live in the Uk it is like flying with Ryanair but on a 9 hour flight. A one hour bus journey and we arrive in sunny Calella and check into our remarkably well located apartment overlooking the beach and the start/finish line. Result, as long as you are not offended by ants.

On Wednesday morning we excitedly headed down to the beach with our wetsuits and had a great 30 min sea swim – the conditions were perfect and calm. We exited the water, showered on the beach and headed to a nice little cafe for a couple of cafe con leches. Half way through the coffee I suddenly realised that we did not have our wetsuit bag with us. I remembered leaving it on the wall by the beach shower so Genevieve trotted off to get it. After 30 mins she was not back and I could feel my blood pressure rising. She returned empty handed – the bag was gone with both wetsuits in it. We trawled the beach, asked at bars and found the Ironman guy in charge at the registration tents hoping that someone had handed them in. His response – ‘’tough, welcome to Spain’’. What an A**hole.

Thursday am and feeling a bit down we went to register. I don’t know what was going on here but it was slow, impersonal, confusing, no one spoke English and Genevieve and I both received different instructions. I was supposed to get fast tracked through the AWA (All World Athlete) channel, but it took twice as long. 
We were hoping to rent or buy wetsuits at the Expo but to our dismay the Expo was tiny – literally only 8 to 10 small tents with very little choice. There was very little nutrition available and hardly any wetsuits. Genevieve eventually managed to rent a dodgy oversized Sailfish wetsuit and I had to wait until the Friday afternoon for another shop to get me an Aquaman wetsuit. I hate Aquaman wetsuits and I think this one was made from recycled Russian truck tyres. It was so inflexible I had to size up 2 sizes so I could get my arms over my head. Needless to say we were not looking forwards to the swim! On the plus side the weather was great and we got a great bike and run in followed by some relaxation and a nice evening meal. I also finally managed to get someone to inflate my disc wheel and bought an over priced adapter (of which there was one available) for my race day flat kit. 

Friday was the pasta party. Queuing for things was to become the theme for the week and it took us 45 minutes to get into the tent. Having paid 15 euros extra for Genevieves Mum it was a shock to find that there was NO vegetarian food available for either of them. They had a plate of plain pasta with no sauce and some salad. Not much carb-loading going on there!

Saturday was exciting as my sister Adele, Nicola and Tony joined our support team and we had a short sharp early swim in our luxurious wetsuits. My arms were tired after 10 mins! After a bit of final organising and race bag stuffing we headed down to transition for bike check in. We queued for well over an hour in the hot sun to do this. I have no idea why it took so long but it is a long time standing when all you should be doing is lying down.

I had been watching the race day weather forecast for a couple of weeks and it always said hot and sunny every day except Sunday. It had always said thunderstorms and still did. It was hard to believe this would materialise as even on Saturday evening it was still warm, clear, sunny and calm. Fingers crossed it would be ok**

**Lesson #3; Never assume the weather will be ok when the Freemans are in town.

It was not ok – we stood on the balcony at 6.00am watching the lightning hit the sea every minute in the dark, the thunder crashing and the rain hammering down. We couldn’t believe this was happening again. We had no choice but to start the 1 km walk to the separate transition area to check bikes, load up the nutrition and bottles and check race bags. The big transition tent was packed with drenched people and there were no lights – it was pitch black. We only found our bags by the light of other peoples iPhones. Nightmare. We did what we could and ran all the way back to the apartment, soaked to the bone and shivering.

The race was due to start at 8.30 and we waited as long as possible before heading to the beach, feeling pretty sure that the swim would be cancelled with all the lightning. I felt sick, cold and shaky – far from ideal. Then the announcement came – the full race was going ahead but there would be a 30 minute delay for the storm to pass. And pass it did. G was off at 9.08 after the Pros and I was off at 9.20. I stood on the beach and with a minute to go, with the sea lapping my toes, a calm came over me – I stopped shivering and focussed on what was to come.

And what came was probably the most violent swim start I have ever done! Punched, kicked, cap ripped off, people tugging at my ankle chip. I was doing that stupid water polo breathe every stroke thing until the first turn buoy then I got myself together and found some clear water. As is quite often the case – this was in a straight line from buoy to buoy. The swim was actually quite enjoyable and every few minutes I could see the clouds clearing and the sun start to peak through. The buoys had the distance written on them which I liked. I had to alter my stroke as I couldn’t bend my arms in my thick industrial diving suit but all was pretty quiet until about 2500m when we started catching the other groups then it just got crazy busy. So many people to get past and the last 200 m into the beach was so busy and with so many different coloured swim caps it looked like someone had emptied a packet of M&Ms into a washing machine. At some points I don’t even think I was in the water – just sliding along a road of neoprene on my belly. I exited, looked at my watch and it said nothing. Someone must have punched it and turned it off. Turns out it was 1.07 for the swim, a few minutes slower than planned. 
Genevieve had a somewhat worse experience – at about 2000m she passed a large Italian man who promptly grabbed her shoulder and pulled her backwards and he then deliberately grabbed her head and held her underwater. She was terrified and came up gasping for air and screaming. She shouted and screamed at a kayaker who ignored her and just stared. I can’t believe someone would do this to another competitor and she was pretty shaken and had to take several minutes to get over it. Not ideal at the start of your race.

Onto the bike and I felt pretty good – nice and steady through the small slippery and bumpy roads in the town but once onto the highway you can relax and start to push. The bike course is great – 2 big 76km laps and a smaller lap to finish. I felt good and was surprised to see my time at 1.02 at the first 39km turn around. I was hoping I hadn’t gone out too hard and eased back very slightly – didn’t want to ruin my run. The biggest issue on the bike – drafting. Huge packs of 40 – 60 guys were getting whistled at by the marshals but I saw very few penalties being dished out. Apparently 260+ people were DQ'd. Not enough. I also saw 4 nasty crashes right in front of me as people clipped wheels on the roundabouts. It was so busy at times with 2600 athletes on the course. If you were caught by a big pack you were in trouble. A couple of times I just had to sit up and eat and drift off the back of the group. Can’t believe people do this and get away with it.

We were rattling through the bike – I eventually caught Genevieve towards the end of the second lap and tried to hold my pace to the end. The last 4 km is back through the town – loads of turns, barriers, speed bumps and generally a bit frustrating as you feel your average pace dropping away. Into T2, a check of the watch showed 5.06 for the bike. Very pleased. Genevieve also had a good solid ride, averaging well over 33 kph and finishing in 5.24. We were both in and out of T2 in just over a minute and onto the run – my legs felt good and I immediately thought I was on for a good time. Quite the opposite of Idaho when I couldn’t even get off the bike despite spending most of the ride in the small chain ring!!

The run course is a 4 looper, half on the very narrow sandy trails in the crowds up to the finish line and the other half is a much quieter double out and back on paved boardwalk and town road. It was relatively quiet at the start but as each lap came around it got busier and busier and I had to swerve around a lot to get pass the masses. I don’t know why but the race nutrition for this race is Nutrisport. That meant no Coke on the run course…HORROR! There were smaller bottles of Nutrisport Red Cola which I can confirm is the most vile product in the history of sports drinks and also an ISO drink which wasn’t too bad. Ironman definitely skimped on the feed stations – they seemed to be a long way apart and with little product choice. There was also no ice which is normally good for sticking under your cap or cooling down your nether regions. It was great to see the Athelite Support Crew twice each lap – they were easy to pick out in their orange t-shirts and whistles.

I was a bit unsure of my total race time due to my garmin not starting and not being too sure what time my swim wave went off so I kept pushing it right until the end. I still wasn’t sure when I crossed the line and there was no timing printer at the finish as there usually would be. I had to wait till they printed out results and stuck them on the wall of the tent like some local 5k run. Anyway – I couldn’t believe it when I saw 9 hrs 48 mins, over the moon!! Genevieve crossed the line in 10.44, also very pleased with her time.

I had forgotten how competitive Ironman racing was in Europe. Last year I did 10.18 in Mont Tremblant and finished 17th in my age group. Here is Barcelona I went 9.48 and finished 63rd in my AG. 63rd!!!! Genevieve finished in 7th place – hoping for better position but again a super competitive field.

We had a great 10 days in Calella, it is a fantastic race venue and a great course. At times it was clear that the course is more suited to the numbers that the Challenge race was getting and not double the size with the IM. We also got the feeling that the volunteers were short in number and had not entirely bought into the event. The prize giving ceremony involved another 45 minute queue and another 15 euros for family members only to find the food was exactly the same again – cheese sandwich and an orange again for our veggie contingent. We then had to sit outside and couldn’t see anything on the screens or the stage! We felt there were a lot of things missing from this race – Ironman entry fees are not cheap and you should not feel like you are being skimped on. Hopefully they will work on these issues to enhance the race for next years competitors.

Fortunately for us we had a fantastic long week in the Spanish sun in a great apartment with family and friends and both got IM PB’s to boot!!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Ironman Coeur D'Alene 2014 Race Report

It was an early start for us on Wednesday, especially for Sarah who only had 2 hours sleep after arriving late in from Vermont the night before. There is a slightly stressful theme to our outward journey which commenced almost immediately we arrived at the airport. We booked our (not cheap) flights with Air Canada who then tried to charge us the earth for all our bags and bikes plus $150 in 'handling' fees. We argued and argued with the hapless check in attendant before we caved in and paid for fear of missing the flight. These fees are only one way incidentally - we had to go through this again on the way home!

We brushed this under the carpet and proceeded to the huge security line up. US border control is in the Airport here in Canada and we were eventually met by the familiar stern face of the guard. After the interrogation she said 'and where is your Esta visa?'. We look at her gormlessly. She then blankly tells us we should have done this online before arriving at the airport and she has to turn us back. We cannot enter America! We are currently only 45 mins from our house, I have sweat pouring down my forehead and veins pulsing in my neck. In our defence we did have a Visa from our road trip to Ohio in May which was still valid but apparently only for travelling by land, not air. We did the walk of shame dragging our bike boxes and luggage out of security to look for a computer to apply online. We found the esta computer and time was getting tight. Filling out the forms, stressed, with a crap shaky mouse was not the best 20 minutes of my life but we (Genevieve) eventually completed them and our two 30 digit confirmation numbers appeared on screen. We were half way through writing down the second one when the screen timed out and reset. I was close to tears! Another extraordinarily stressful 10 mins to retrieve it and back to security. Sarah meanwhile was wondering where the hell we were having seen us backtracking out over her shoulder 30 mins previously. Border guard # 2 was friendlier and I am sure seemed to imply that our old Ohio visa would have sufficed but we couldn't be sure. Anyway, bags dropped off, 6 Co2 canisters removed from the bike boxes (why do I always think I can get away with this?!) and with 15 mins to spare we made it onto the plane for the 5 hour flight to Seattle. The views out of the plane window over the mountains as we neared Seattle were amazing. We had made it into Ameeeerica!

We refused to give Air Canada any more money and showed them who was boss by not buying any food on the flight. We were subsequently starving when we rolled off the flight so stuffed our faces with bagels before heading to baggage reclaim. The building was empty except for all our luggage piled up on the floor, bikes and all. Maybe spent too long on lunch! After a loooong wait for the hotel shuttle we made it there. This is where the next round of problems started, all related to credit cards. Sarah's card had not been working whilst ours was working sporadically and it was declined at the hotel reception. After trying it again later it cleared. Short term panic over. We headed for the light rail to get the train into Seattle for some sightseeing - at the unmanned station all our cards were not accepted by the machines. Our only option was to get to an ATM, the nearest one being back at the airport! Sarah managed to get $100 out which seemed to empty the machine but it was something. We spent the rest of the day in Seattle, around Pike Place market. A very eclectic place with a lot of history and some very strange people. We sat outside with a coffee at the first Starbucks (also the slowest service of any too I think) and watched the world go by. It felt like we were sitting in the viewing gallery of a high security mental hospital at times, or Glasgow with the sun out. After finally succumbing to pitchers of craft beer and nice food we sloped off back to the hotel for a pretty good nights sleep.

Thursday morning and drive to Idaho day. After breakfast and waiting in the wrong place for the car rental shuttle at the airport for 30 mins we made it to Thrifty. We charged off the bus like crazed tourists and got to the front of the queue. We had booked a Chevy pick up truck as the best and cheapest way to move 3 of us and all our bike boxes. After adding in all the extras which doubled the price she swiped our card. DECLINED. Can't be right - try again we said - it did this at the hotel. No can do she says - one swipe per card per day for security reasons. Sarah tried her credit card - declined. We tried our Uk credit card - declined. We take debit she says - so we try 3 debit cards. All declined. AHHHHHH! I think people normally walk away at this point but we had no other option so we just stood there. The queue behind was building. She took pity on us and went to try and get authorization over the phone. All the cards would not work on her card reader until BAM! HSBC came through for us. I don't know how as she was only gone for 20 seconds but something happened. After 30 patience testing minutes of manual form filling we left the building hot and sweaty with a very long queue of people glaring at us. We went down to get the pick up, which was not a Chevy but a huge Dodge Ram Heavy Duty with a 5.7 litre engine, no crew cab but enough space in the back to fit 80 hay bales. Our luggage took up a quarter of the space.
We squeezed our way out of the parking lot and hit the highway - Genevieve sat in the middle on the pretend seat and feeling all the bumps with our stiff suspension and all terrain tyres. This beast is designed for towing trailers, not a 5 hour drive on the highway!

After an uneventful journey with some incredible views we arrived at our perfect hotel (we struck gold with this one) and had just enough time to head down for athlete check in. The race is set is a beautiful small venue - very much like IM Switzerland. The tented village and transition is all laid out in a small grassy park next to the lake amongst the trees. We felt like we were entering a local sprint tri rather than an Ironman. Complete opposite to Tremblant last year. After a browse round the expo and dinner it was early to bed.

Friday morning we were up and out to test the lake. It is notoriously cold, which it was but nothing we couldn't handle. It was also windy and the lake was pretty choppy. Everyone was practising swimming parallel to the beach but we practised swimming out into the waves and back as we would be doing on race day. It was a tough swim and we left the lake shivering and not oozing with confidence. The afternoon race briefing was good - only 30 minutes and to the point. Much better than previous ones with lengthy speeches from Sponsors and local dignitaries. No one wants to listen to all that pre race!

After building all the bikes I laid out all of mine and Genevieve's equipment and race bags on the bed. Sarah did hers in her room then came back and curiously started making a list. We went through and checked her packing and all that was laid out on her bed was a Garmin and a helmet! Time to go shopping! After buying a few non-essential items such as nutrition, tri shorts and running shoes (?!) we had a practice ride and run then relaxed for the rest of the day.

A monumental storm passed through on Friday night and apparently this was not a good sign for the swim conditions for race day. We went down for another practice swim on Saturday morning which was much the same as Friday, but we felt slightly better. Practice bike and run, bike and bag check in and rest. We were ready and we just needed the weather to calm down. Fortunately the wind was forecasted to drop overnight.

We woke after a remarkably good 7 hour sleep.
Imagine our horror then when we looked out the window at 4.00 am on race morning and saw the trees blowing sideways in the garden. It looked nasty and we knew straight away we were in for a tough day. Walking down to race start was horrible and the wind was not easing up. First sight of the lake looked like a washing machine. We got ourselves ready and waited nervously on the beach. it was about 10 degrees and chilly.

The pros went off first and we waited till 6.40 am for the rolling start. The time came and we rolled quickly through the narrow start gate. Genevieve and I headed left and I had the best ever swim start with clear water almost immediately. Sarah headed off right towards Seattle.
The water was so rough I didn't notice the cold. It was tough breathing and getting hit in face with waves from all angles. Despite this I felt like I was swimming well despite being constantly terrorized by two idiots wearing snorkels. Apparently there is no need to sight when wearing one - just look down and swim where the hell you want. You could tell progress was slow though by the time it took to pass each buoy - I felt like I was going backwards at times. Every buoy had people hanging off it and one detached and drifted away under the weight of all the bodies clinging to it!
Once we got to the turn around it was slightly easier coming back in before running onto the beach and back in for the second lap. I checked my watch and it said 33 mins. Only 1 min behind schedule. I started swimming again and I think the wind had picked up - it was even rougher! There were people everywhere just bobbing around and hanging off boats and I started to feel the cold. I eventually exited the water in 1.11. Seven mins behind target and my Plan A finish time was already out the window. Apparently over 80 people were pulled from the water and loads missed the swim cut off. One person in our hotel spent so long in the warming tent at the swim finish that she missed the bike cut off.

Anyway, no problems in T1 other than putting on socks with frozen stumps for hands and out on the bike. It was chilly but only until the first climb. It was still windy but not too bad through town. When we hit the I-90 south though that's when the wind hit. Long open climbs, over 45 - 50 km head wind and officially the most time I have ever spent in the small chain ring in a race. What a grind. The turnaround eventually came and the journey back was quicker but not quick enough to make up the lost time. Some serious ass twitching on the descents when the cross winds took hold. I was overtaking one guy when a gust blew him across the road and his front wheel clipped my back wheel and we both just stayed upright. The second loop was a real leg zapper and just more of the same. Coming back into town there is a long no-passing zone and about 20 of us got stuck behind one lady on her first lap just free wheeling through. We were all shouting at her to pedal but she seemed oblivious to the fact that 20 people were lined up behind her. Off the bike in 5.50, well over 30 mins off target. When I eventually came into T2 I dismounted gingerly and knew immediately I was in for a tough run - my hamstrings felt wrecked from pushing so hard into the wind for so long. T2 was slow for me as I had to hobble through like an old man. Onto the run and I usually have to hold myself back but not this time. My effort level felt like I was running 4.45/km as planned but my Garmin said otherwise. The 2 loop route twos and fros through the houses before tracking  the lake side then hitting a nasty hill which you climb, descend, turnaround and run back up and over again. The support and feed stations were incredible. I have never seen so many people walking the marathon though - it seemed like only 1 in 10 people were running and I was moving at a pace that I didn't even know I could do it was so slow. I ran the first 24 km non stop then walked the feed stations from there on but continued to pick off other athletes in my age group. From 5 km out I pushed harder and chased down several more people. As I finally took the left turn onto Sherman Avenue I could hear Mike Reilly and the crowds and lifted the pace again. I looked at my watch for the first time in hours and couldn't believe it - 10 hours 57 mins. I knew I was behind schedule but not by so much. 30 mins behind on the run as well. I hammered it down the finish chute in the rain high fiving the amazing crowds and crossed the line in 11.00.29. Not too bothered by going over 11 as it was already my slowest ever Ironman.

As I sat and waited for Genevieve the wind seemed to die down and I looked at the lake and it was completely still. Typical! Genevieve and Sarah both had similarly tough races but both finished strong. A real tester for Sarah on her debut Ironman! Genevieve ran herself into 11th place - good but also way off target.

We did one thing in this race that we have never done before and that was head back down to the finish line to watch from 11.30 to midnight. What a truly amazing experience - Mike Reilly's energy at the finish was just awesome and at 11.55 when we thought there was no one else to make the cut off, we could see a tiny light in the distance. Mike ran out into the dark and pushed the guy all the way in and across the finish with 2 seconds to spare. The crowds just went ballistic. At 12.04 another finisher came over - a 74 year old guy who crossed the line and collapsed into a crowd of volunteers. Very humbling sights to watch and put our own achievements into perspective.
In summary, CDA is a beautiful setting for a race - the town is full of real characters and everyone totally embraces the event. The volunteers were amazing and tireless. We were obviously disappointed with our results - we have worked very hard in preparation for the race, but the one thing you can't control is the weather. I think we may have unfinished Ironman business this year!

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Countdown to IMCDA!!

One month today and it is Ironman time for us again!!

After a long cold winter involving many, many workouts on the bike trainer, a good amount of swimming and a poor amount of running we seem to have completely bypassed Spring and popped out into Summer. With the late winter and early season race our window for long bike rides is pretty small so we are really loading on the mileage right now.

After having good races at the American Triple T two weeks ago, it took us about 5 days before we started to feel human and recovered, then we knuckled down again with the Ironman training. We are in the midst of a big training week this week with only 2 more after this one before we can ease back a bit on our taper.

Last Sunday, in the last 30 minutes of the last Swim Squad of the season I managed to smack my little toe on a metal grill by the pool side that I must have walked up and down past hundreds of times. My toe exploded (but I kept on Coaching like a brave soldier, thanks for noticing everyone), but it has had me hobbling round in pain for the last few days. Tomorrow morning I have a 32 km run that I cannot miss, so hopefully I can ignore it for long enough. Other than a few aches we feel pretty good and are making the final arrangements to our travel plans. When I say final, I mean booking flights and accommodation! We had originally planned to drive the 38 hours to Idaho but following our extended drives to and from the last race in Ohio we have decided to fly instead. This gives us more time in the west before and after the race with 2 nights in Seattle - somewhere we have all wanted to go to. Still a 5 hour drive from Seattle to Coeur D'Alene but better than the 38 hour option.
We have also struck gold by getting a suite in a fantastic hotel almost on the race start/finish line. It has athlete specific meal times, post race banquet and ice baths in the front garden! We normally don't mind staying a little further away but as we have no sherpas/support crew this time it will be much more convenient being close by. It is always my intention to go back to the finish line at midnight to cheer on the last finishers and watch the fireworks. Unfortunately I am usually unconscious and unmovable by this point but maybe I stand a better chance this time!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The American TTT - Epic Event, Epic Race Report!!

The supposed 10 hour drive from Aurora to Shawnee Park, near Portsmouth, Ohio was severely hampered by the friendly US border guards at Windsor who kept us holed up for 2 hours. This lengthy delay resulted in our 8.30pm arrival at the camp site just before dark. This is the first camp site I have ever stayed at where there is no actual designated space to pitch a tent - just a parking bay and a sheer drop of rocks, moss and roots. Too embarrassed to ask what to do we pitched the tent on a slope in between the fire pit and a picnic bench, in a wet patch next to the river just before dark. We agreed that as we were on holiday we would have a small snifter of wine before bed and promptly drained 1.5 litres before passing out on our semi inflated mattresses. Sarah Taylor was honky tonk, and kept falling off her air bed.

It was unbelievably cold and it rained all night and on and off all day Friday. We collected our race kits at lunch time in the driving rain and wind. The thought of jumping in a freezing lake at 5.00pm was highly unappealing and we felt generally quite miserable. Luckily the rain cleared away at 4.30 just as we donned our wetsuits and headed to the start line on the beach for the first race.

Fri 5.00pm; Race # 1 Super Sprint; 250 swim, 6 km bike, 1 mile run.

All the races have a time trial start with 3 people entering the water at 3 sec intervals, a nice way to start a race but a long wait for some people. Once in the water it was quite nice despite being on the chilly side. 250m is definitely short and sharp for a wetsuit swim and it was over in a flash. The last 100m of the swim must have had a mountain stream feeding into it - it was like swimming through iced water and made my teeth ache. A quick T1 and onto the bike. Downhill first and we got an insight into how cold it was going to be over the next races. I have heard of people biking in wetsuits in cold events before but never actually witnessed it. Some people here did the bike AND run in them!! There is no way on earth that that is the easier option!! After a tight turn at the bottom we climbed up and up, quads burning to the summit before dropping back down to transition. The road was too steep and too wet to go aero. Onto the run and a rapid mile 'sprint' - a real lung burner but great fun. We got really cold soon after the finish so after attacking the buffet we got our stuff together and headed for the campsite to prep for the next day.

We checked the results and Sarah was in 25th in her age group, I was 8th in mine and Genevieve finished in 1st place in hers!! A great start but a long way to go yet.
Unfortunately we were shivering by now and the showers were also freezing. Not good. The temperature was still dropping so a quick glass of wine and we wrapped up in all the warm clothes we had brought for the night. The temp dropped down to near freezing in our wet tent. Not too much sleep and when the alarm went off at 5.15am it was so hard to get up and out despite the tent feeling like a fridge. 

Sat 7.30am; Race # 2 Olympic Tri; 1500 swim, 40 km bike, 10 km run.

Setting up in transition was SO cold. Everyone was shivering even when fully clothed and the lake was steaming as the air temp was so low. We put on our clammy, still wet, wetsuits and queued up on the beach for the start. 2 laps of the extended course this time. I could feel my body temp dropping on the 2nd loop and the last section through the icy patch was so cold that it was tough in T1 to get the shoes on with no feeling in your fingers. Out on the bike and straight down the hill again and I was chilled to the bone. With only a Tri suit on, freezing from the lake and the air temp around 5 degrees it was horrific. The course has some crazy climbs on the forest roads and some very long steep descents with tight turns and loose gravel everywhere.My teeth were chattering on the descents. With your body trembling a speed wobble is a serious concern especially when you can't brake because your hands are numb! Nonetheless we all survived and made it onto the run with feet like blocks of ice. The run is unfortunately also a killer - 5 km uphill on a gravelly fire road with lungs and legs burning to the turnaround then back down again to the finish. All the time I was thinking - how on earth am I going to run up here again later in the day! Despite feeling like I was dragging my ass up the hills I managed to average 4.27/km so quite pleased. It was good to always see Genevieve and Sarah on the run for a high five.

Once we were all in, we wrapped up warm, loaded on the buffet and checked times again. Sarah had moved up to 19th in her AG, I was 10th Masters Male and Genevieve was still in 1st place! 2 races, 2 wins for Super G!

We headed to the campsite, still freezing and shivering for another cold shower and a coffee (thank god we packed the coffee machine!!) then 30 minutes in bed before the alarm went off. Time to go again!!

Sat 3.00pm; Race # 3 Olympic Tri; 40 km bike, 1500 swim, 10 km run. 

Fortunately the sun was now out and it was up to a balmy 10 degrees. This was going to be a weird race with the bike first then the swim and run. I had planned to man up and go non wetsuit for this one but the race announcer said don't even think about it - the chance of cramp in the cold water after biking was high and you don't want cramp in a lake with no wetsuit on.

The bike was a Time trial start and Genevieve and I started together. I was surprised that my legs felt good and unlike the mornings route that was just climbing or descending, this one had a longer flat sections along the ridge for a good section of time trialling. I caught a lot of people on these flat sections and on all the climbs as did Genevieve the mountain goat. There were a lot of crazies flying down the descents  - way too fast for my liking. We inevitably all saw some of these people lying face down in the road at the bottom. A serious reminder of how dangerous the roads were. Like the morning this was a tough course with over 1200 ft of climbing over 42km but I managed to average over 30km/hr. What a difference being slightly warmer makes!

Into T1 and I managed to slip into the wetsuit pretty quickly. Diving into the water I expected warmth but it was freeeeezing! The same 2 lap course as the morning and really cold all the way. If you tried to kick even slightly you could feel you feet and quads trying to cramp so it was just drag the legs (thank god for the wetsuit) and avoid kicking around the turn buoys. With frozen hands and feet it was out onto the run again and that long wretched climb up the hill. Again I was surprised how good my legs felt and I managed to hold a similar pace to the morning.
Scores on the doors after race 3; Sarah 18th, me back up to 8th and Genevieve was 1st again!!

Same procedure post race - warm clothes, buffet and back to the campsite for a luke warm shower this time, beer and bed. Another VERY cold night with sporadic sleep, not the best recovery or prep for a half ironman!

The alarm went off at 5.15am for another painful exit of the tent. It was dark and we had tried leaving the wetsuits out to dry. On hindsight this was not a good idea! They were soaking wet and almost frozen so we had to put them in the car with the heaters on full to try and dry them a little. We sat in the car and ate breakfast and coffee feeling sorry for ourselves.

Sun 7.00am; Race # 4 70.3 Tri; 1900 swim, 90 km bike, 21.1 km run.

This was it - the big one! This 70.3 would be a tough one, even without the previous 2 days racing in our legs. We stood on the start line shivering and waiting. People were saying if this was not an independent event it would have been cancelled as the air temp was too cold. We entered the water, swimming out towards the rising sun and it was so cold my goggles fogged up again and again. After 4 rinses they stayed clear and I picked up the pace. Pretty uneventful otherwise for me once my arms woke up, Genevieve got punched in the eye, drank half the lake as a result and had to lie on her back to get over it. Sarah had a great swim, her best ever! The icy patch before the exit made my hands cramp, making T1 a bit tricky like trying to get dressed with your fists. To try and stay warm on the bike and speed up T1, I had swum with a baselayer and arm warmers on and added another top in transition. Bad idea - I got on the bike and felt like I was wearing an ice jacket. At the bottom of the 1st descent people were bailing out and turning back. We heard of cases of hyperthermia. We saw more people crashed out on the road and someone apparently got hit by a car. I eventually warmed up after 90 mins and started to feel surprisingly good. The km's rattled by and with the final last loooong climb that looked like a wall out of the way it was a fast long downhill to T2.
The uphill section of Lap 1 of the run was dire as my hamstrings started to complain but the legs felt ok going down. The 2nd loop was a bit of a blur but knowing it was the last one helped, just had to dig deep for a little bit longer. For the 1st time all weekend I was overtaken on the run by 2 guys which pissed me off but I couldn't do anything about it! G and Sarah both looked strong to the end.

We refuelled big style at the buffet and left as I felt the on set of a body melt down. After a HOT shower (finally) we headed to the prize giving banquet (pizza). Still unsure of the final rankings it was great to see that Genevieve had won every single race and was the Womens Masters Champion. KABOOM!! I finished 7th Male Master and Sarah was 13th Female Senior. Given that there was no Pro division and all the pros and elites were mixed in with the regular field we should all be pretty happy with these results. When G missed out on Ironman Mont Tremblant last year after her bike crash we always had an uneven number of big medals hanging up. Now she has won a coveted ATT Belt Buckle we are all even again!!

The American Triple T is a very special and unique event - certainly not for everyone but if you are an endurance junky or used to the volume of training for Ironman and you want an inexpensive, super tough training/racing weekend then I would highly recommend it. The organisation is incredible, the venue beautiful and race courses are 'challenging' (understatement). We liked the friendly relaxed approach of the organisers - each race started more when everyone was ready rather than at the advertised time! The post race food is basic but plentiful. We were unlucky enough to take part in the coldest and toughest conditions that the event has seen in its 12 year history but that just makes you feel all the more tough!! 

We may be back!!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Race time!!

Tomorrow morning we start making our way south to sunny (and stormy) Portsmouth, Ohio for our first race(s) of the year.

As always we always seem to take the rockier path and avoid the easier options and this is no different.

The American Triple T is actually 4 races over 3 days. Race # 1 is a Super Sprint Triathlon on Friday evening. Race # 2 starts early on Saturday morning and is an Olympic distance Tri. Race # 3 starts after lunch on Saturday and is another Olympic distance Tri. Race # 4 is the icing on the very big cake and is a Half Ironman early on Sunday morning.

None of these races are our 'A' races as we are 6 weeks out from Ironman Coeur D'Alene in Idaho at the end of June. We are really treating the Triple T as a hefty training weekend - whilst the distances are obviously shorter than Ironman this will be a real test of pacing and endurance in order to finish the weekend strong.

We are getting pretty Ironman fit and the distances 'should not' be a problem (unless I lose my control and try and hammer everything!)

We get multiple practices at swim starts, transitions, nutrition strategy etc in advance of our A race.

The course is particularly is hilly and technical - good practice for Idaho. There is a mega-buffet after each race which I am excited about.

All the swims are open water and we have not swim in open water since last summer as it is still too cold! I have no idea what the water temperature is in Ohio. I also have a brand new wetsuit that I have yet to wear!

We are camping and the weather looks a bit ropey - not sure how much sleep we are going to get.

The bike course is particularly hilly and technical!

There is little or no phone/internet reception in Shawnee State Park where we are racing so no updates till we get back but wish us luck - we might need it!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Athelite Training Day of EPIC proportions.

As Epic Training Days go - that was the most Epic of Epic Training Days!!

With 23 people in attendance we started the day with a 2 hour indoor bike trainer  sweat fest with tunes from DJ Jazzy Gen before transitioning quickly into 3 run groups for an hour of run intervals. The weather conditions on the run at the top of the hill were testing to say the least with snowy showers and a freezing cold wind trying to blow us into the fields but everyone got stuck in and ran hard.

After a welcome break back at the studio for hot coffee and snacks we headed over to the pool for a 90 minute swim including a 60 minute technical session before whipping out the lane ropes for 30 minutes of complete mayhem as we had everyone practising open water skills with drafting formations, turning, sighting and mass starts.

Thank you and well done to everyone who attended - it was great to work with such a great bunch of people, all working hard and having fun at the same time.

The next Athelite Epic Training is Saturday 26th April so sign up now as places are limited and we are already a third full.

As always we will cater for all abilities so don't be shy - give it a TRI !!!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Around the Bay 30k - Race Report

Due to my insistence at arriving at races uber early to avoid additional stress, we were up at 5.30 am on Sunday and on the road an hour later heading for Hamilton. It was still pretty busy when we arrived and it was nice to get immersed in the atmosphere of a road running race. Neither of us have competed in a running race for maybe 3 or 4 years - we can't remember! It has been triathlons all the way.

When we entered the Bay Race it was with a view to having a bit of a running focus over the winter months, but that turned out to be a bit of a burden as the winter was so bad and we had to keep forcing ourselves out to run substandard paces and distances in the snow and freezing temperatures. Subsequently we only ran 3 decent long runs over 1.45, but lots of shorter 60 - 90 min runs. To add to the problems we both became ill in the run up to the race and even on race morning we were feeling sorry for ourselves and a bit congested. On hindsight this may have slightly worked in our favour as we reduced our training a lot more than we might have done in race week so while our heads were a bit fogged up, our legs were probably quite well rested.

The Bay Race is the oldest Road Race in North America and subsequently runs like clockwork - 9000 competitors doing the whole race and I think 500 relay teams plus 2500 in the 5k.

The whole field starts at 9.30 but you are separated in Corrals depending on expected finish time. I wangled myself into Corral A at the front (you have to provide evidence of sub 1.30 half marathon or 3.00 marathon in the last 2 years - I have not raced any so persuaded them my IM marathon time was good enough). We didn't realise there was a Corral B & C so Genevieve ended up further back squashed in with the masses and relay teams.

If I was in Scotland I would have raced in vest and shorts regardless of weather conditions but as I am going slightly soft I wore 3/4 tights and a base layer too. 90% of the rest of the field wore long tights, multiple thermal tops, jackets, hats and gloves so when the sun came out 3 mins before the race start a lot of people knew they were in for a sweat fest!

I was hoping to hold 4.20/km pace all the way through but was going a little quicker out of the gate but felt comfortable so stuck with it. The race weaves its way out of Hamilton, taking in some of the beautiful industrial landmarks(!!) before eventually crossing the bridge over  the lake to the other side and turning left onto the more scenic rolling part of the route. The wind dropped at this point and I still felt comfy - every time I looked at my watch it said 4.09 and I was pulling people in one at a time - I didn't get overtaken by anyone after 7k.

I was pleased we had run this section on a training run so we knew what to expect and it flew by - even the 'killer hill' didn't seem too bad. Once the last climb is done it is a downhill gradient for 3km to the finish. I picked up the pace a little and pushed hard to the end. The finish line is great as you run into Copps Colosseum and finish inside, right in the middle of the arena. I stopped my watch on 2.05.55 averaging 4.10/km and Genevieve finished in 2.28.34 averaging 4.55/km. Given our sketchy run training we were both very pleased with our results and we both got Silver medals for our times.

Well done to all our buddies who ran the race - Tom, Bruce, Matt, Dave, Christine, Carolyn, Audrey, and Barb who won her age group in the 5km.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014


Last week was a busy week for us with lots of things going on and a lot of training. Many people have been lucky enough to get away over the March break and seek out some warm sunshine for a few days whilst the rest of us are left to battle the never ending cold weather. We must have met at least 10 people this week who have been ill with coughs and colds and Genevieve has been poorly over the weekend and had to miss an important long run with only 2 weeks to go till the Around the Bay 30 km race.

Due to the freezing weather through the week I had to delay my long run till Sunday, which ended up also being a freezing -15 and -21 with the wind chill. I have been a bit unmotivated by the running routes recently so Genevieve drove me out into the country and made me run 26 kms home into a head wind!! Despite the clear blue skies and sun it was bitterly cold and my heart rate was through the roof at the start as it struggled with the temperature. On the flip side though this was my first long run (of 4!!) where I hit my target race pace from start to finish. I was officially destroyed though after Saturdays 2.5 hr Spin session and sub 4 min/km brick run. It is now Tuesday and my legs are still not working!

One more race specific long run to do later this week then ease back for the week running up to Around the Bay. I am looking forward to the race but also looking forward to easing back on the pace of my training runs a little after it to a more sensible pace for Ironman!

Monday, 10 March 2014

Half way Around the Bay

Another training week ticked off - this one was supposed to be a recovery week but looking at it on paper you wouldn't think that. We automatically rack up 8 hours a week of training just from running the spin classes. I did dial the intensity back on a couple of them, partly because Tuesdays session was so hard I had nothing left to offer anyway! Also, yesterday was a long run which could not be avoided. Around the Bay is 2 weeks away and our quality long long runs have been sparse due to the weather.

So with that in mind it was another early start on Sunday, especially after the clocks going forwards on Saturday night. We were on the road for 7.30 am heading to Oakville for our Round the Bay reconnaissance run. A few last minute cancellations meant there were just 8 of us.
Under 90 mins later we were stepping out of the cars wishing we had worn more clothes. This winter is going on forever and minus 15 again this morning meant for another chilly start with frozen lips and ice block feet. Once the sun gained strength though it was a perfect running day and clear blue skies and great views across the partially frozen lake. There were so many runners out practising on the course you could believe that it was actually race day.

My group ran 22 km except Genevieve who shamed us all at the end by running 2 km extra as we got changed in the car park thinking we had finished!

We managed to run most of the more scenic back half of the race route and got a chance to look at the roads and all the hills, which were not as bad as I had expected. We'll see if I am thinking the same in a couple of weeks after 20 km. We managed to run on or near race pace, confident that there is always a bit of extra speed on race day. I have been managing a bit of a niggly hamstring for a couple of weeks (actually most of my running career) and it felt a bit tight during the run but didn't hamper me too much. If it is ok on race day I can probably go a little bit faster - we'll see. We had a good laugh and a good run and it was nice to get out and run somewhere different with the gang.

This week the volume ramps up again so we need to get the fridge filled up as my appetite will also increase accordingly!

Have a great week Everyone and Happy Training!!!

Friday, 7 March 2014

Athelite Epic Training Days - April 5th and 26th

Winter is coming to an end (hopefully!) and race season is looming. Time to start putting it all together. To help you do this we have put together 2 EPIC TRAINING DAYS in April. These multi sport Bike, Run, Swim training days are suitable for ANY ABILITY and are just a fun way of getting a good workout in a group environment.

Dates; Sat 5th April and  Sat 26th April. 7.00am - 2.00pm. Sign up for one, or both!!

Cost; $65.00

What to expect; 

Bike - Two hour structured indoor bike session working on speed skills, technique, form, muscular and aerobic endurance. (60 min & 90 min option available).
Run - An out and back steady paced run in different paced groups, various distances available for different abilities. (30 min & 60 min option available).
Swim - Land based stretching, technique focused drill set, structured main swim set. Option to do less. Different lanes for different abilities. (45 min & 75 min option available).

7.00am -7:30am Arrive at Studio in Snowball & Set up
7:30am - 9:30am Indoor Bike Workout (option to do less)
9:30am - 9:40am Change to Run gear
9:40am - 10:40am Run Workout - Road Run (option to do less)
10:45am - 11:00am Stretching
11:00am - 11:30am Nutrition/Coffee break. Refuel
11:30am - 12:00pm Head to Pool & change to swim kit
12:00pm - 1:30pm Land based exercise & Swim Workout
1:30pm - 2:00pm Core. Q & A. Finish!

Who can attend;

The answer is Anyone, no matter what distance you are training for, your ability or age (over 18) you will be welcomed. We will take account of everyones ability.

What to bring;

Enough nutrition to keep you going throughout all the workouts. Bring plenty of hydration. 2-3 bottles of fluid for the bike session, one for before/after the run and one for the swim.

For the Bike - bike clothing, bike, bike shoes, trainer, front wheel riser, mat, towel, fluids, nutrition

For the Run - running clothing, running shoes, jacket, gloves, hat. Dress for the weather.

For the Swim - swim wear, goggles, cap, pull buoy, hand paddles, fins (if you have them) and a towel.

All sessions are lead by experienced and qualified Triathlon Coaches / Triathletes!
Any questions please email us at
The schedule can change without notice.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Around the Bay Race Reconnaissance Run

This Sunday 9th March a group of us are heading down to run a portion of the Around the Bay Race route.

Our plan is to leave at 7:30am from Second Cup, Aurora.

We will drive down the QEW and exit at North Shore and head east to LaSalle Park, half way along North Shore Blvd.

The run route will be East on North Shore to the hospital, turn around and back to the park to replenish water if needed (8.9k).  Continue out North Shore and ultimately down to Dundurn Castle, turn around and back to LaSalle Park. The full distance is 24k.

For those who want to make the run shorter, at the top of the big hill at Plains Road turn back, now 18k.

The map is on MapMyRun: 12.14 km North Shore Route;

More importantly, after the run we will go over to JC HOT Bagels at Guelph Line and New Street. It is in Burlington, east on North Shore, past the QEW,  continue on Lakeshore, then North on Guelph line – about a ten minute drive.
Sounds like there will be about 12-15 people coming so lots of abilities and various distances available to run from  9k – 24k. 

The weather is currently showing -4 for Sunday so pack your shorts and bikinis!!