Training for Ironman


Kris and I have signed up for the 2013 Ironman race in Mount Tremblant, Quebec on Saturday August 18, 2013. We’re both very excited about this as it will be our first full Ironman race.

Although we have completed the 2012 Racine Wisconsin 70.3 Ironman race, the Riding Mountain Olympic triathlon and the Pinewa Olympic triathlon, we’ve never done a race of the Ironman distance (140.6 miles), and it’s a little intimidating.

Since we don’t currently belong to a formal triathlon club and don’t know anyone who has completed an event as long as the Ironman we’re pretty much left to our own devices when it comes to creating a training plan.

Kris has been researching different training plans available online and in book form. She finally purchased ‘Your Best Triathlon, Advanced Training for Serious Triathletes‘, by Joe Friel.

After skimming over the first few chapters of this book one thing impressed me the most. This training program uses progressively longer and harder workouts and doesn’t stop at the 80% of the distance most training programs do.

I’m not a fan of marathon training programs that only take you to 20 miles a few times before race day and expect that you’ll be able to complete the final 6.2 miles at the race. So many of the people I talk to or follow on social media train this way and then hit the wall at mile 20 and can’t understand why. No surprise there, if you haven’t trained for it, how do you expect to be able to do it on race day? Personally, I think if you’re training for a 26.2 mile race, you should be running 28 miles at least twice before race day. That way you know you can do the distance and you know the level of endurance (pain?) you have to suffer through.

The author goes to great lengths to simplify the science behind the training programs and explains why slower is better at the start. The first few chapters are more explanations of the symbols and codes he uses throughout the book. The actual training program don’t start until chapter 4. The book doesn’t focus only on the full Ironman distance. There are training programs for the Sprint, Olympic, 70.3, and full Ironman distances. They all follow the same principles, the only difference is the lengths of the workouts.

Training is broken down into six separate sections.

  1. Prep: Learning how to train properly
  2. Base: Develop basic abilities and building duration
  3. Build: Develop advanced abilities and build intensity.
  4. Peak: Tapering and doing ‘minirace’ style workouts
  5. Race: Rest and prepare to race
  6. Transition: Recovery.

Each Prep, Base, Build and Peak sections cover a number of weeks and have a workout and a rest period built into them. Depending on the length of time until your next race, you work backwards from the date of the race to get the starting date for your training.

Each workout period is designed to help you develop very specific areas. At the end of the workout period is a rest and test week where you scale back in training distance and intensity and perform a few tests so you can get an idea on your progress.

We worked back from our race date and calculated a training start date in February 2013. We scheduled in a few extra workout weeks in each of the sections and came up with a training start date of Dec 31, 2012. Nice time to start training, and as we all know, triathletes love crunching numbers and this start date makes it easy.

The other number we were able to calculate was the training hours. Although each section and each week can vary, if we do every workout and add the race time in, we will have worked out for 605 hours from the start of January to August 18, 2013.

If you don’t have a calculator handy I’ll do the math for you, it’s an average of 18 hours per week for 32 weeks. Now there’s a number that’s scary.

We are currently logging up to 15 hours a week now and we know how much of a toll that takes on day to day life. With some weeks going as high as 25 hours this is going to take some logistics for both of us to be able to complete the required hours.

So, in a nutshell, that’s the plan. Start Jan 1, 2013, train long, train hard and do the Ironman. We’re also planning of doing a number of shorter triathlons next year as part of the training prep, as well as the Fargo full marathon and a few 1/2 marathons.

This is going to be a FUN year.

One thing I haven’t added in here yet is our target time for doing the Ironman. We have up to 17 hours to complete it. I don’t want to try and determine a time now before I know how well the training is going. If I say I want to finish it in 14 hours it would just be a guess and not based on ability, only hope, and those estimates are always woefully wrong. By the time I’m half way or more into the training I’ll set a goal for myself.  Under 14 would be good, under 13 would be fantastic, but we’ll see.

As time goes on, I intend to add pages to this blog that explain what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and how training is going. It’s not going to be my training bible, but more an overview of how it’s going and thoughts on the training plan itself. Basically we’re betting our whole A-race this year on the training manual, we’ll see if it works :)


Grand Forks Wild Hog 1/2 Marathon

Grand Forks Half Marathon 2012-09-29

Pre-Race Day

We left Friday afternoon to head down to Grand Forks for the inaugural Wild Hog 1/2 marathon. We had just heard of this race a few weeks ago and signed up for it on a whim. It was going to be ‘just a fun race” to see where we are before the WFPS 1/2 in October.

Crossing the border was only a slight delay. It looked like a lot of the traffic was runners going down for the race.

We got to Grand Forks in good time and checked into the Lakeview Inn & Suites on 32 Ave South. The room was great, a king size bed, bar fridge, internet, swimming pool and hot breakfast starting at 6:00 AM. As it turns out, this was a great location for two reasons, it was a short walk away from the race shuttle point and close to any number of restaurants.

As soon as we were settled, we drove out to do the kit pick at the race site. They had a lot of entertainment there for kids, rock climbing, etc. It was nice to see as we don’t have that type of entertainment in our local races.

Since this is their first attempt at putting on a race, we expected a few glitches and thankfully there were only a couple. The check-in process could of been better, more signage etc to direct people where to go, and a smoother pick up process would be nice but it’s small stuff.

After getting our kits we went for dinner at the Texas Roadhouse. We have never been there but have heard good things. Being a race weekend, it was pretty crowded and we were told it would be a 20 minute wait. We snacked on shelled peanuts and waited less than 10 minutes before we were called.

Drinks and dinner of steak and potatoes for both of us came to about $56.00. That’s way better than we could ever do at home and the meal was delicious, the staff were top notch and everything was served as requested. We all know how often that doesn’t happen.

Race Day

We got up about 6:30 AM to get ready for the race. Breakfast was orange juice and waffles for me. When done, we took the 5 minute walk to the Columbia Mall where the shuttle bus was waiting. The buses ran every 15 minutes to the race site so they weren’t overly crowded.

We milled around the race site for a bit and met some other runners we know from Winnipeg. Since it was going up to 25C that day, we didn’t take any extra clothing for before or after. We did take a couple of space blankets just to keep the chill off. They were nice, but if we didn’t have them we’d of still be warm enough.

At 7:45 they started lining up the runners at the start line. There were about 550 runners starting and they didn’t have any type of corral system. As it turns out this wasn’t a big deal. If they get bigger, they really should look into that to reduce congestion at the start.

I picked out the 1:50:00 pace bunny and at the last minuted decided to follow her. Up until then I hadn’t put a lot of thought into how I was going to run the race. I thought the 1:50:00 bunny was a bit of a reach considering the paces I’ve been doing lately, but the worst case is I fall off the pace and run with the 2:00:00 bunny.

At 8:00 AM sharp we stated the race. Right off the bat my bunny was doing an 8’00″/mile pace which felt a bit fast at the start. After the first few turns everything settled down and we were doing the correct pace.

The course itself was great. Scenic, well marked, lots of room. I looked down at my Garmin and was surprised to see we had done 2.5 miles already. This was great, I felt good and the pace was easy. Next time I looked at the Garmin, we’d covered 4 miles.

At this point I started to think I could maybe go a bit harder and a bit faster. It was tempting but if I did I risked burning out and falling off the pace at the end so I kept with the bunny. As  we covered the miles, a couple of runners who started with us fell off the pace. What I did notice was that after mile 4 we didn’t have anyone passing us anymore. By mile 7 we started to overtake some of the runners who had gone out too fast and too strong and were beginning to fade fast.

I was still feeling good and strong at we clocked over 8 miles and I decided I’d wait a bit longer and then speed up the pace a bit. By 8.75 miles I was ready to go and started to pull away from the pace bunny. I didn’t go all crazy fast, just a steady increase in pace and effort to make sure I could come in under the 1:50:00 mark.

As I was running, I was catching up to other runners ahead of me and passing them slowly. It was nice to be the one passing at that point instead of the one being passed for a change. It really gives you a boost of confidence and makes you push it a bit harder.

By mile 10, I was at times down to a sub 8’00″/mile but was careful to not try and push it too hard and end up fading. Soon enough mile 10 turned to 11, 11 turned to 12 and it was only another 1.1 miles to go.

There was a big group of runners ahead of me that I was trying to reel in. I was gaining slowly, but wasn’t sure if I’d be able to overtake them in time. At the last aide station, most of those runners pulled over for water and a walk break and I was able to pass about 8 of them at once. Bonus.

Since pulling away from the pace bunny just before mile 9, I hadn’t been passed by anyone and that made me think I was doing good. At mile 12, two runners started to overtake me at a much faster pace. Maybe I could of kept up with them, maybe not, but I continued to run MY race, not theirs. Within a short distance, they had both pulled over to walk and I was able to get in front of them again. Nice.

With 6/10th of a mile to go we turned a corner and could see the finish line. At this point I was closing in on another group and we all picked up the pace quite a bit, well under a 7’45″/mile pace. We were pushing each other and everyone was trying to get ahead. It was a RACE, and it was fun. I passed one, got passed by another and crossed the finish line upright, strong, fast and smiling and THAT’S the way it’s supposed to be.

The official results have me finishing in 11th place out of 47 in the Male 50-59 age group and 142nd of 580 overall. These are excellent results for me. The only kicker is one runner in my age group finished 3 seconds ahead of me edging me out of a top 10 finish.

Wild Hog Medal

Post Race

As soon as I crossed the finish line and heard my name called by the announcer I knew this was going to be a race for the books. I got my medal, a bottle of water and a space blanket before wandering back to the finish line to wait for Kris to come in.

As soon as Kris finished her race, we headed for the beer tent. Yup, a beer tent. This is something you don’t find up here anywhere. Each runner was given one free beer ticket. Kris doesn’t drink beer so guess who used them both. A beer at 10:00 AM is a lot more tasty than you might think!

After the beer, we wandered over to the food tables that we well stocked. Pulled pork on a bug, Twizzlers, fruit and more. Very well done spread.

We talked to a few of the other runners and everyone was very impressed with how well the race went. After a bit we hopped back on the shuttle bus and headed back to the hotel.

Both Kris and I felt great and weren’t even as tired as we would of expected after the race. We cleaned up and when shopping for the next 5 hours.

Talking to one of the race organizers later in the day, we found out that next year there will be a full and a half race. We will be attending that one for sure.

Lessons learned

I think following the pace bunny for so long prevented me from going out too strong in the beginning and helped me have a really good finish. That being said, I think I could of pulled away from the bunny when I first though instead of waiting as long as I did. It might of got me a sub 1:49, but I don’t think it would of gone under 1:48:00

Although it was a 13.1 mile race, my Garmin clocked 13.2 miles in 1:49:18 so my real pace was 8’17″/mile. Here’s the splits. Nice and even with a max :19 second difference.

1 8:30
2 8:20
3 8:18
4 8:26
5 8:14
6 8:15
7 8:13
8 8:20
9 8:16
10 8:11
11 8:16
12 8:17
13 8:15



Ironman Tattoo

I have known I was going to get an Ironman tattoo far before I ever did my first Ironman race. I knew what I wanted and where I wanted it.

After we had completed the 70.3 Racine WI, race, it was time to follow through and get the tattoo.

I decided to have Jay Primeau  of Skin Dimensions do my tattoo. Jay has and excellent reputation as an artist. I did find that it was difficult to arrange to meet him via e-mails, but once I went down and showed him what I wanted it went a bit smoother.

I wanted the Ironman M-dot logo on my right rear calf, with the race name underneath it. That way, every time I did a new IM race, I could add the race name.

Today I went down to the studio and got the tattoo. I also added a smaller M-dot tattoo to the top of my right wrist. Just kind of for fun.

 The first step was to put the outline on the back of the calf.

Once he had the outline, it was time to fill in the colour.

It took about an hour and a half all together for the leg and wrist to be done. It was only uncomfortable once or twice during the process. In the end, I had my M-dot.

 The wrist tattoo was a bit difference. He couldn’t add the black outline because the tattoo was so much smaller, but he was able to add the highlights to it.

After about a week, the tattoos will be all healed and the minimal swelling there is will be gone and I’ll post a few new pictures of the results.

I’ve very happy with the new tattoos and I’m glad they turned out so good.

Pinawa Triathlon 2012

Pinawa Olympic Race

Last weekend Kris and I competed in the Riding Mountain Triathlon. We had a wonderful time doing it, but when it was over, we were looking for another race to do. The Tri season here isn’t very long in Manitoba.

We found the Free Spirit Triathlon in Pinawa, MB was going to be run the next weekend so we registered for it. There wasn’t a lot of information on it, (Their website could use a bit of attention), but what the heck, we were in for it.

Race Day

We had to get up at 5:30 race morning to make it out to Pinawa in time for check-in and body marking. The trip out there was pretty quick and we arrived in plenty of time.

There was a surprising number of athletes (193) attending this and we took the time to get checked-in and acquainted with the where’s and when’s of the race.

After racking the bikes and setting up our transition area, the athlete meeting only took a few minutes to go over the rules etc. As soon as that was done, it was time to get in the water for a bit of practice before the swim start.

The Swim

We would be swimming the the Winnipeg river. (I know, it even sounds icky doesn’t it.). My goal for this swim wasn’t to go as fast as I could, or even set a new PR. My goal was simple, get out and get going without the associated panic attack I get at the start of the swim.

I positioned myself at the front left edge of the swim group with plenty of others swimmers behind me. The gun went off and about 58 of use started swimming. I went out at my own pace, doing my own thing. There was a fair bit of jostling and shoving and climbing on top of each other, but I just pushed through it and kept going. Once I had made it to the 100m mark I knew I’d be good for the swim and just kept going. No panic attack, no having to stop to catch my breath, no palpating heart. All was good and I was happy.

The swim in the river was pretty good, it was warm which was nice, but it’s pretty murky which isn’t so good. I was passed and passed others back and forth as we did a clockwise loop around the buoys.  Because of the way the (very strong) wind was blowing and the current, the swim back was a lot harder that the swim out. I personally think it would of made a lot more sense to swim the course counter-clockwise and will make that suggestion to the race director.

Out of the water in 36:46 which is a bit more than my last race. Not great, but consistent :) I think all in all this swim was better than the last because of having to deal with the current on the way back.

The Bike

Did I mention how windy it was today? Stupid windy. Ridiculously windy. 60 kph windy.

After transition it was up on my bike and out to the highway for two 12.5 miles loops. As soon as I got on the bike I could feel the wind pushing me back. I had done 25 miles in 1:20:00 the other day in preparation for this race on a nice calm day, and originally had expected to be able to do that time again today. Not so much.

The outbound leg of the first loop I think I may of managed to get up to about 13.5 mph, but just. It was fighting the wind all the way. I finally just realized there was nothing I could do about it but put my head down and peddle. I’d get to the turn around when I got there and there wasn’t a lot I could do to make it happen any faster. It took 28:30 for the first 6.25 miles. As soon as I got to the turn around point I was headed back with the wind and did the next 6.25 miles in 18:00 getting up to 24 mph.

Great time on the way back, but I still had to do another loop. This one was more of the same, crawling out and zooming back. Zooming is way more fun.

My bike time was 1:33:14 which is less than 2 minutes better than the my bike at Riding Mountain when we had all the hills to contend with.

The Run

After the bike, T2 was quick and I was out on the run course for two loops of 3.25 miles each. The start of the run took us along the edge of the lake in a park which was very pretty, shaded and cool. Eventually we joined up with the road. I must say the volunteers at the race did a great job of keeping traffic away from the runners and we did the course.

In what seemed like no time at all I was back at the start ready to do my second loop. I was slowing down a bit, taking too many walk breaks but wasn’t too worried. I’m not in this to win, I’m in this for fun.

On the second loop through a residential neighborhood I looked to my left and there were two fawns eating the grass. They were close, like 7 feet away. I stopped and started to talk to them, they lifted their heads and watched me as I slowly got closer to them. I got to within about 3 feet before they started to get spooked so I backed off. It was too cool to get that close.

After the fawns, I turned a corner, took on water and kept going. Not a block later there was  another fawn on someones front lawn. I stopped and did the same thing. I figure if I can’t stop and smell the roses or talk to the wildlife during a race I shouldn’t be doing the races at all. Like I said, races are hard work, lots of training, lots of sore muscles, but they have to be fun too.

I kept going and finally crossed the finish line. I think I was the last one over (nope, seems I was 2nd last), I’m not sure as the official results aren’t posted yet. It didn’t matter, I had a great time, the race was well run, except for the wind it was a beautiful day and I got out and killed some calories. All good things.

As long as it fits our next years race season, we’d like to come back and do this one again.

After the Race

All races have some type of food for the athletes afterwards. Sometimes it’s good, mostly it’s not too appealing to me. The volunteers at this race put on a wonderful lasagna dinner with Cesar salad and garlic bread sticks. It was WONDERFUL, and the best after race meal I’ve had in any triathlon or marathon. Hats off to the cooks and the servers.

The Results

Finally now, here are the results. (The Bike time is higher because they add the transition times to it.)

Male 55-59 O 51.5 km. Mass Start
PL Bib Name Overall Swim/Run1 Rnk Bike Rnk Run/Run2 Rnk Time Diff
1 206 Sheldon Reynolds 11/47 0:29:23.2 (2) 1:11:53.7 (1) 0:42:53.1 (1) 2:24:10.1
2 229 Neil Ferguson 13/47 0:26:07.9 (1) 1:12:43.2 (2) 0:50:51.9 (3) 2:29:43.0 +5:32.8
3 227 Tim Hawkins 27/47 0:32:35.3 (4) 1:18:40.3 (4) 0:47:58.2 (2) 2:39:13.9 +15:03.7
4 220 Rob Crowley 30/47 0:32:01.4 (3) 1:15:16.1 (3) 0:56:24.8 (4) 2:43:42.4 +19:32.2
5 241 Bruce Thompson 46/47 0:36:46.1 (5) 1:42:11.5 (5) 0:57:44.9 (5) 3:16:42.6 +52:32.5

As you can see, I finished +52:32.5 after the winner of the age group.

Swim +10:00 from the best. I may be able to get my swim down to 30:00 by spring..

Bike +31 minutes. I can’t see how I can get this down more than 15 minutes. Seems all the age group is in the 1:11:00 to 1:15:00 range in most races. I need to get there.

Run, to get competitive I need to get down to max 50 min / 10k. This I think I can do.

Riding Mountain Triathlon 2012

Riding Mountain Triathlon – 2012

This was the second year we did the triathlon up at Riding Mountain ( Last year we had a great time, weather was perfect and we were hoping for the same again this year.

This year just Kris & I went up, the boys were away for the weekend so that made it a little easier to get up there. We decided to tent this year as we were late registering and all the hotels were full, or wanted a minimum three night stay. Since we have all the camping gear, that’s the way we went.

Friday we loaded up the van and headed out. It takes us just under 3 hours to get to Clear Lake arriving around 2:30pm.

Athlete Check-In

As soon as we arrived, we walked down to the athlete check-in in the transition area. Since it was the beginning of check-in (3pm to 8pm), it went smooth and quick. First we signed the waiver, then picked up our race kit and milled around with all the rest of the participants for a while.

After check-in, we headed back and set up the camp site and had dinner. Soon as we finished dinner, we did what most people (all people?) do at Clear Lake after dinner. We went for ice-cream. Now I like ice-cream as much as the next person, but up there it’s like cult, and a little bit scary too!!

The advantage of camping when doing a triathlon? You get to go to bed as soon as it starts getting dark. In this case it was about 9:30pm.

Race Day

Waking up at 6:00am, we experienced something we’d forgotten about. It’s August, not July and as warm as it was in July it wasn’t warm that morning. It was an inviting 8C as we rolled out of our warm sleeping bags and had to put on the tri-kit. Shorts and a sleeveless shirt. Great 8C weather. Wrapping ourselves in sweat pants and hoodies we had a quick breakfast before walking the bikes and all the gear down to transition which opened at 6:30AM.

We racked our bikes and put out all the gear, forgot to take pictures. Each time we do this is gets a little easier and we completed setup in no time. Since the Olympic race didn’t start until 9:00AM, we did the body marking etc, then checked out all the other bikes. It’s like porn, you know you shouldn’t be looking, but you do :) There we some pretty fancy bikes and even fancier wheel sets out there. When someones wheel set costs (a lot) more than your bike does it can get a bit envious. Tiny bit my ass.

The Race

At 8:45 the organizers herded us like stray cats into the staging area, try to make sure everyone who was supposed to be there was, and everyone who wasn’t supposed to be there wasn’t. (You’d think this would be an easier thing to do.)

As we left the marshaling area, they took our bib numbers down so they would know if anyone was missing after the swim. It’s a little scary they do this, but it’s understandable.

At 9:00 the gun goes off and in this case, 143 men and women start fighting for position in the open water any way they can. On top of you, under you, across you. It’s a mess. All mass swim starts are like this. We had positioned ourselves closer to the back of the pack to prevent as much of the kicking and shoving as possible, we even waited 15 or 20 seconds after the start to let some of the more aggressive swimmer get out first. For the little time it costs, it’s worth it to not get clobbered.

Once I got going, I was doing fair until about 150 meters in, then the same tight feeling in my chest like I can’t breathe came over me again. I seem to get this in every mass swim start I do. Luckily I now know what to do. I just stopped, treaded water  for a bit and got my breath back. By the time I started swimming again, I was the third last in the group.

That little stop did me a world of good and the rest of the swim went really good. It was fast, strong and on the second 750m lap I put more effort into it and ended up coming out of the water 118 of 143, having gained on 23 other swimmers. So, I was happy with that. My total swim time was 35:42. Last years swim time was 47:34 which was a great improvement for me. Without my stop at the beginning, I would of been well under the 35:00 mark.


Out of the water and up the steps into transition. Here you try to take off the wet suit, swim cap and goggles that it took you 10 minutes to wiggle your fat ass into in as little time as possible. It’s a riot watching all the penguin look a likes shimmy and shake to get out of the wet suits and changed and into their bike gear.

The Bike

The bike portion is where you can make or break your entire race. Running out of T1 with the bike I crossed the mount line, jumped on my sturdy steed and was off for the 25 mile bike course. (Ever been to Riding Mountain, you know, mountain, as in hills. Up and down hills. Some of which are pretty decent in size.)

After getting out to the highway, there’s two small hills then a big one, down first, then up. I have a love/hate relationship with this hill. I love going down it at 37+ mph. I love the feel of the wind and the exhilaration of knowing that if I fall off the bike now, I’m going to be in a WORLD of hurt!! The hate part of the hill comes after you get to the bottom, climb up a bit with the  momentum and then gradually slow down to 6 mph as you put more and more effort into peddling, shifting into successively easier gears until you’re in the easiest one wishing for 2 or 3 easier ones.

The whole bike course went pretty much as planned. We had gone out to Clear Lake a couple of weeks earlier to swim and ride there and I knew the bike was going to take me 1:35:00 to complete. I finished the bike in 1:34:30, right on time.


Dismounting just before the transition area, the goal is to get your bike racked and changed into your running gear fast. Real fast. I’m not at the REAL FAST point, but I’m getting better at it. At this particular race they add your time in T1 and T2 to your bike time, which gave me 1:41:52 in total, which as down from 1:45:11 last year. Another win. Getting faster in T1 would help this total a lot.

Out of the bike gear, into the runners and out of transition. Great, good day. I’m 2/3 finished.

The Run

The run course is beautifully scenic on this course. You start running through a gently slopping path with manicured lawns and an overview of the Clear Lake. This changes to a hard packed gravel surface that runs just at the lakes edge. Then, 2km into the run, you make a right turn and the F*&#ing hill in front of you. This hill isn’t too long, but it’s steep by any measure. I walk up this hill all the time. The time I lose by walking up it more than makes up for the energy I save if I were to run up. I know it’s there and it’s factored in. But I ain’t gonna run up it!!

After the F(*$#ing hill as I now call it, the course has some gentle ups and downs and one or two hills that make you work, but aren’t as bad as their big brother. I had caught up to a number of people on the run course, mostly people who were doing the Olympic relay or sprint distance.

I only took a couple of walk breaks and came into the finish line with a run time of 58:23, down from 58:54 last year. A small gain in time but better than a loss.

The Finish

Total time for this race was 3:15:45. I had estimated a 3:11:00 time so I wasn’t far off. I had estimated a better gain on the bike and run. My total time was still down from 3:31:30 last year, giving me a 15:45 improvement.

I’m happy with my performance in the race this year. As with any race it’s not only how well you do, but what you learn from it for next time that counts.

Here a link to the results page. You can see for yourself, there’s a LOT of fast, fast people out there. Or am I a SlowFatTriathlete?

What Did I Learn


1) I have to learn how to breathe out of both sides equally well when swimming. I used to do it. Then over time I ended up only breathing on my left and find it terribly hard to breathe on the right. I learned I needed to do this when we went for a practice swim the day before the race. There waves were moderate in size even it they seem huge to me while swimming and every time I tried to take a breath, I’d get a mouth full of water. Breathing on the other side would have been helpful.

2) I’m still having the panic attacks (if that’s what they are) right at the beginning of the swim. I start at an easy pace on purpose but in short order my heart is racing and I can’t catch a breath and my feet feel like they’re sinking. I know they’re not, but it’s hard to convince myself of that when I’m feeling like this. I have to find a way to get over that feeling without stopping. That could take some work.


My training rides for this race were 16 miles. I have to increase them to the full 25 miles for an Olympic race. I need to train for hills better. This is a problem because where do you get long hills in Winnipeg? It looks like we may have to head out-of-town once a week or so to train for the hills. A lot of travel time wasted, but what else can you do?


My run was decent after the bike, but was no way a good one. I have done 8 miles in 64 minutes before (but not off the bike). I have to get my run down to 52 minutes. That’s just more training.

What’s Next

This was only our second race of this season. With the race season coming to a quick close we decided to do the Pinawa triathlon next weekend. I’ve looked at the course and the bike and the run are both FLAT…..FLAT….FLAT so that should speed those up a bit.

Next year we’re already planning on three 70.3 races, Ironman or not, and 4 Olympic races as well. Now, I have to go bike, run, swim…something……


Brick 2012-07-24

Yesterday I took my mandatory day off. (Except the swim at the Y, but they don’t count). I’m forcing myself to take a day off every four days. They say rest is as important as working out and ‘they’ seem to know a lot more than I do about all of this.

As I sit watching TV, feeling like a slot for taking a day off, I was reading some blogs by other athletes, (other athletes?, mmmm I think my head space is changing, maybe I’m one of them now too?). Nothing is as inspiring as reading about someone who in a race is starting to lose it, slowing down, but finds the inner strength to push through the pain and fatigue to conquer their goals. It makes you want to jump off your couch, or where ever it is you happen to park your ass when you’re being lazy, and get out there and JUST DO IT.

Fast forward to this evening. I had a bike/run planned. Nothing new, nothing exciting, except for the challenge. After work, after dinner, after cleaning up etc, etc, etc. it’s like “really do I really have to do this tonight”. The answer of course is No. No I don’t have to do it tonight. I don’t have to do it tomorrow, or next week, or next month. I don’t have to do it ever .

I choose to do it tonight, and tomorrow, and next week and next month. I choose to do it because it makes be feel good to get out and prove things to myself that I never thought I could do.

I got the bike and my run gear ready, hopped on it and had a great ride. I leave home, head  south on Pembina Hwy, then out to St. Annes road, turn around and take the Bairdmore loop to get back. It’s a good loop, not terribly many places I have to cross traffic and I’ve done it many times before so I have stats so I can tell a good ride from a bad one.

Tonight, it was into the wind on the way out. That was different. It took about a minute and a half longer to get out to St. Annes, but the ride back was really quick. You can see the return trip from 25:00 on is a lot faster than the first half.

Bike Speed

So the ride went well, averaged 19.0 mph for the trip which is the fastest I’ve done this loop. Now, to run.

If you’ve never run after biking for any number of miles, you’re really missing something. It’s an ummmmm treat. Yes, let’s call it a treat. A treat, like getting a tooth pulled. Yes, that’s close.

You get off the bike, immediately start to pour sweat because you’re not moving and it’s not evaporating anymore. You’re legs are tight, you have to get out of the bike gear and into the run gear as fast as you can and start running. Sounds fun doesn’t it.

Once you’re running, it really is fun. The hard part is slowing the run down for the first mile. I always go out way to fast off the bike. The heart rate is up, the legs are warmed up and they just want to go.

Tonight the goal was 4 miles at 9’30″ pace. I ended up with four miles at 9’17″ pace so that’s a bonus.

After it’s all done, it’s chocolate milk time. Two cups of cold, tasty, yummy chocolate milk. Sometimes I think the chocolate milk reward is the only reason I work out at all. One of these days I’m going to write an Ode to Chocolate Milk (How do I Love Thee, Let me count the ways)

So another workout in the bag. A little faster, a little thinner and headed in the right direction. Destination unknown, but I’m getting there.


Finding Fast

Finding the fast

One of the things that Kris (TryingToTri) and I have found while getting ready to do the 70.3  Ironman race is we lost our fast. We’re not sure where it went, or when it went, all we know for sure it….it went.

With running usually only done after we get off the bike, the focus has just been to get the distance done, the time and pace were secondary, at least. Just get the distance done. This has let to slower and slower times when we do just go out for a run on it’s own.  The recent heat wave has something to do with it also I’m sure.

I had gone for what was supposed to be a bike-run earlier today, did my 17 miles on the bike in decent time and at a decent pace for me (18.2 mph/avg). By the time I got back I wasn’t really in too much shape to go for a run so I called it quits.

After dinner tonight I was watching some TV and reading some blogs of other runners and triathletes. Reading their accomplishments, failures and hopes. This can get quite motivating so I decided I’d just go out and run. Just run, just for fun, just because I enjoy  it, just because I can and last but not least, why not.

I got ready, grabbed the music, the Garmin and the fuel belt and off I went. It was a BEAUTIFUL evening to run. The sun was down low, the temps were down and I felt great.

I won’t say I didn’t watch the Garmin, I always do, but it really didn’t matter what it said, it was just fun running. The pace was good, I felt strong and it was just one of those good runs.

Mile one clocked in at an 8’40″ pace. I liked that. Mile two came in at 8’11″ and mile 3 was 8’10″.

Those are good paces for me at any time. I will admit by close to the end of mile 3 I was watching the Garmin, hoping the mileage would speed up a bit.

So in the end, I seemed to of found some of the fast I lost. I haven’t found the long and fast, but I’m just happy to of found my short and fast for now. The goal for the WFPS 1/2 marathon in October is 1:45:00. This means 8’01″/mi. THAT’S going to be a challenge.


One of the things we’re working on is our weight. I have bit to lose, not a lot, but I’m working on it. We track our daily food and exercise on It’s an easy way to see what you’re eating and try and control the weight a bit. Here’s today’s diary.

As I was running I thought, ‘I want a beer’. Can I afford the calories from a beer? Sure, I could. I get 1,700 calories a day, plus exercise calories. Because of the bike earlier and the run tonight, I could well afford 150 calories for a beer.

Then I though, mmmmm maybe a big glass of chocolate milk instead. Better for me and tastier too. Decisions, decisions.

While in the shower the answer came to me. A SLUPREE! So after my shower I went to get one. You know what, it’s almost twice as many calories as a beer. Go figure.

Anyway, we make our choices and live with the results.


Sprint repeats on the track

Sprint repeats at the local high schools track.


Kris (TryingToTri) and I went for some pre-dinner speed work. Nice and warm tonight, but with a bit of a breeze that helped cool us off.

Kris, just before doing sprint repeats @ 30C

  1. .51 mile warm up @ 9’07″
  2. .26 mile @ 7’06″
  3. .26 mile @ 8’55″
  4. .26 mile @ 7’26″
  5. .26 mile @ 8’53″
  6. .26 mile @ 7’30″
  7. .26 mile @ 9’59″
  8. .26 mile @ 7’39″
  9. .26 mile @ 11’18″
  10. .26 mile @ 7’40″
  11. .26 mile @ 13’26″
  12. .26 mile @ 8’32″
  13. .24 mile @ 10’46″ cool down


70.3 Ironman, Racine WI

We set off from Winnipeg, MB to head down to Racine WI early (8 AM) in the morning of July 12th, 2012. By the time we got up it was a small matter of throwing a few additional items into the SUV, loading up the bikes and kids and we were off on our first Ironman race.

The plan was to drive somewhere past Minneapolis, MN and stop for the night, doing a short run into Racine on the Friday morning. With 3 kids in the car a long days drive wasn’t  going to be good for ANYONE.

After passing the border into the US, it was clear and quick sailing all the way. We were going around Minneapolis about 4pm, way ahead of schedule. Stopping in Hudson, WI we had dinner in a truck stop I used to go to way back in a different life.

Looking at the map we figured we would stop an hour or two outside of Racine for the night. By the time we go to Madison, it only made sense to keep going and get to the motel in Racine that night. The kids were being good, entertained by various electronic devices and under the thread of terrible things happening to them should they decided to be ‘not good’.

Arriving in Racine about 11:30 PM we were here. We checked into the two rooms we had reserved and unpacked.

This trip had always (for us), been about doing the RACE, it wasn’t supposed to be a family vacation and we had explained this to the kids. Although not a vacation, we did manage to go to the Racine Zoo on Friday morning.

The zoo was small compared to ours at home, but it did have some really cool exhibits. Things like lions, Black Rhinos, Giraffes and Camels. We toured the zoo, took the kids on a Camel ride which was pretty cool. (Ever ridden a Camel?). The last thing we did at the zoo was take part in feeding the Giraffes. You need to know here that Kris is crazy about Giraffes. I don’t know why and I don’t question it. It’s just one of those things that is and I accept it, quietly, really really quietly ;)

Kris feeding the Giraffe

‘Mac’ the Giraffe

After the zoo, we headed to the Expo at the Racine Civic Center. The Expo was good, it had a lot of Ironman branded clothing etc, just what you’re looking for at an Ironman race! We shopped more than we had agreed to, me more than Kris, and THAT’S a first!.

On the way out we entered our names to win a new TREK Speed Concept 9.9 time trial bike. This bike retails at $16,000.00 US. It has electronic shifters, hydraulic brakes and it’s really really pretty.It would make me go fast, really fast. Okay, maybe not that much faster but I’d LOOK fast and that’s half the battle. Crush the competition using mind techniques.

During our visit to the Expo, the rain started. Racine is in the heat wave that’s affecting them so hard down there. It hasn’t rained very much this year and it’s starting to show. Well that day it rained, and rained and rained, pouring out of the sky. The first thing I thought was it would reduce the temp outside and get rid of some of the humidity in the air. Yeah, not really.

Saturday we go up early and headed out to the beach with the kids. We dropped our bikes off in transition, then we planned on spending some time getting used to swimming in lake Michigan which is a whole lot bigger than our practice swims at Birds Hill Park. Because the weather was so warm again, we didn’t take the wetsuits with us. Mistake 1.

We splashed around in the water, swam a bit, not enough and watch a lot of the other triathletes doing the same thing. The lake is beautiful and clear, in 10-12 feet of water you can still see the bottom with no problem.

Saturday night we went to bed at 9:30 PM. With the kids in the adjoining room this allowed us to get a good nights sleep and not disturb them when we got up the next morning.  We woke up on time and began preparing for the race. A bit apprehensive maybe, but more excited than anything.

We loaded our transition bags into the SUV and head out to the race. First thing we did was get our race numbers inked on, this went really quickly with lots of volunteers helping. Next, we set up our transition areas making sure we had all the bike gear ready for T1 and all the run gear ready for T2. So far, so good, distance covered 0 miles, but feeling strong.

The swim course in Racine is a point to point, 1.2 mile swim. This means you have to walk 1.2 miles down the beach to the start point, then swim the 1.2 miles back to transition. I suppose there are reasons for doing this, but I like the single loop with the start/finish in the same location. Just my preference.

For my age group 55-59, the start time was 7:08 AM. At 7:00 AM the Pro men started. It was, well, intimidating to watch them start. By the time the Pro women started at 7:03, the leader of the mens wave was 200+ meters into the swim. That’s FAST by any standard, especially when it takes me 2:30 to do 100 meters.

My wave finally was ready to go and we lined up in the water. There was about 60 of us starting in this wave. Funny how in the final 10 seconds before the start it all seems to get really quiet and you get really focused.

The horn went off and us 60 penguin looking old guys started splashing around in the water trying to get going and not drown each other. I HATE the swim start, I don’t like the pushing and shoving that goes on for the first few minutes so much it starts to bring on a panic attack for me. (This happened in 2011 at Riding Mountain when at the swim start I couldn’t breathe right, couldn’t swim and felt like I was sinking.) This time I was ready for that feeling and right from the start I went out slower. There was still all the bumping that I expected and I did start to feel that tight feeling in my chest that I get, but I just kept talking myself through it. By the time I got to the 200 meter buoy I had settled down and got into a nice even swim pace.

The nice part of the swim was the clear water, almost no waves and the marker buoys being spaced every 100 meters. For the first 1/2 of the swim the buoys are yellow, for the last half they’re orange, it helps let you know where you are. Great idea. I kept swimming and counting the buoys as I passed them. 200 meters, 1/10 done. 400 meters, 20% done, 600 meters 1/3 done…. it helped pace me and kept me from concentrating on the other swimmers around me.

I left the water at the swim exit in 46:47. This is a great time for me for this distance and that time includes almost a minute from the time you stop swimming to the time you cross the timing mat. In fact, this turns out to be my best pace for any swim I’ve done. WIN!

The swim exit to the transition area was about 200 meters of asphalt. Not too hard to run on, but I have TENDER feet. Even so, it didn’t take long to get into my bike gear and out onto the bike course. 1.2 miles down, feeling good.

I like the bike portion of a race. I find the bike comfortable and can push it at a pretty good pace. I thought. I had expected to be passed by a lot of the faster, younger athletes who were in waves starting after me. Wow, was I right. I get on the bike, get up to about 18 mph, right where I wanted to be, and succeeded in being passed by a PILE of bikes that make me think I was standing still. They didn’t cruise by, they ZOOMED by. If I was doing 18, they were up around 26+. Okay I’d expected this, just not to this level. (Note to self: get faster).

The day was starting off good, my swim time was less than I had expected, transition went well and I was on the bike looking for a 3:15 ride for the 56 mile course. Training has shown me  I can do that time for that distance. It wasn’t too long before I realized that 3:15 was NOT going to happen. The bike course was a lot hillier than we had expected which was bad but not terrible, but the road surface was just awful! Most of the 56 miles was jaw jarring bumps over and over and over again.

The sun had started to climb and it was well on it’s way to a 91F humid day. The first 16 miles went well, the hills slowed me down, but not too bad. It was hard to drink on the ride with the road so bumpy. After the 16 mile point it started getting harder, hillier and hotter out which just meant I was starting to go slower. At the half-way point we turned a corner and was faced with a long steep hill. This hill, more than the others was demoralizing for some reason, but I ground down and got up it and kept going. By the second aide station at mile 32 it was pretty tough going. I stopped for a few minutes and tried to take some nutrition down but with all the bumps my stomach was upset and trying to get anything down made me want to throw up. I was taking water okay, but not the GUs or Gatorade that you need on the bike for the run portion.

Finally I got to mile 46, only 10 to go. Hell, anyone can do 10 miles. Started counting them down, more miles, more hills, more bumps, losing speed. 5 miles to go, 20 minutes, but over the worst of the bumps. I turned into the dismount lane beat, just exhausted. Getting off the bike my legs started to cramp pretty bad and I had to stand there a few minutes until the cramps went away. I tend to cramp a lot in my legs to this wasn’t a surprise and was manageable so that was a bonus. 57.2 miles down, not looking so good.

I racked the bike and put my run gear on, then stood in transition for close to 5 minutes while I told myself there was no way I could do the run. I was exhausted, I’d had little nutrition, I had forgotten to put sunscreen on before the bike and my shoulders were burning. No way was I in shape for a 13.1 mile run. I talked down the evil voices in my head and started out the run chute. I ran for a few feet and my calves started to cramp again so I walked it off. I knew there was a small hill on the run course and I decided I’d walk that far and up the hill then run. After the hill, I started to run and got about 50 paces  when the legs went again. I walked that off. Then I’d run 40 or 50 paces easy and when I felt my legs start to cramp I’d walk. By the mile 1 aide station it was clear to me I wasn’t going to be running this portion of the race.

Now, time for decisions. Quit? DNF? Give up? They were all very real options walking along that very hot road. Nope, can’t do it, Kris is coming up behind me. She’s going to do it, and so am I. We came here to complete, we came here to finish, we came here to get the metal, we came here to prove we could do it.

I spent the next 3 hours walking the whole 13.1 mile course. What made it easier was all the other people out there walking along with me. Some could run slowly, a few could run quickly, but nobody was running very long or very far.

I made it to the turn around point on the run and thought, “okay, just walk back and you’re half way”. Forty-five minutes later I was starting the second loop. On this one, there was even more people walking with short runs. By this time my legs were feeling okay, but any time I started to run they would cramp. I made a conscious decision to not try to run on the last loop. If I walked it all it was only 6.5 miles and I could finish. If I started to run, cramped up and couldn’t get rid of the cramps I was done. I wouldn’t be able to make it to the finish.

The next hour and half I walked and walked. Talked to the volunteers and had a good time chatting with other (non) runners. I had made a decision and was content to just walk it so I wasn’t worried about finish time or anything else. It was a relief.

After eight hours and 12 minutes, I walked across the finish line and heard the announcer say my name. I’d done it. I’d finished. I DID IT.

Yes, it’s not a pretty recap, it wasn’t an easy race by any means. It was pretty brutal to be honest, but in the end. It was a GREAT race and I had a wonderful time doing it. We’re looking forward to our Olympic distance race in Riding Mountain in August and we’re planning our next 70.3 Ironman race.

Oh yes, we’re working on a new training plan for next time too.

My original goals

Swim + T1: 1 hour

Bike + T2: 3:30

Run: 2:30


Here’s the stats

Swim: 46:47
Bike: 3:42:47
Run: 3:27:35

T2: BIKE-TO-RUN 8:24

Overall: 8:12:19

No matter what, here’s what you get for pushing through the pain.

The hardware for finishing


Crossing the FINISH line after 8 hours and 12 minutes.