Sunday, 4 March 2018

2018 – Scottsdale TriSutto Camp #1

Michelle, me, and Gary following the long trail run!

First off I want to say a huge thank you to Gary & Michelle Barnes for hosting an amazing camp in Scottsdale, AZ. I have been very intrigued by Brett Sutton’s training methods and over the past couple years I have started diving into it a bit more. I wanted to attend a TriSutto camp to experience first hand some of the techniques and principles that Brett Sutton has developed. I met Michelle last year while traveling to Phoenix and I met Gary last year at ITU Long Course Worlds in Penticton. Michelle is the TriSutto head coach in Canada and Gary just recently came on board with TriSutto (at the personal request of Brett Sutton), though he has been involved in coaching for many years.

In case anyone is wondering who is/was coached by Brett Sutton – Chrissie Wellington, Daniela Ryf, Nicola Spirig, Mary Beth Ellis, Chris McCormack (in his early days), James Cunnama, Josh Amberger, Sarah Crowley (Josh & Sarah are both coached by Cameron Watt an associate coach of Brett’s) and the list goes on and on. Over the past several years Brett has taken his tried and true methods of training professional athletes to the age group ranks with great success. The more I’ve read up on the TriSutto methodologies, the more I’ve become a believer. It makes sense, and it’s clearly working. 

To utilize a common term we use in the military – BLUF (Bottom Line up-front) – the camp was exactly what I needed. There was lots of intensity and a good chunk of volume - in my opinion - in a perfect balance. I left the camp not feeling smashed, but confident and definitely fitter than the day I showed up. That being said, race fitness is not built in a single week, but through consistent training.

Here is a quick run down on the camp. Hopefully I’m not letting out any TriSutto secrets. 

Monday – Swim & Big Gear Intervals on the Bike
The campers showing off their new Eney Buoys!
Tuesday – Run (short fast intervals), Swim, Run (easy/steady)

Wednesday – Swim, Bike (Short Big Gear Hills), Bike (Longish)
Short Hill Reps All completed!

Thursday – Swim, Run (Short Hills), Bike (Build)
Michelle explaining the hill repeats!
Gary and I smashing out another 10km TT!

Friday – Long Ride to Bartlett Reservoir (I added a swim prior to the bike)
Gary & I on one of the descents into Bartlett Reservoir
Saturday – Long Run on the trails, Recovery Swim

Note: Any day that we did not have a run scheduled, I added an additional easy run of 30-60min with the exception of Friday.

I ended up with just over 24hrs of training for the week. Swim – ~15km, Bike ~400km, Run ~80km. 

One of the keys to staying ready for the next workout this week was the recovery. I made sure to start/finish each day with F2CPharma-Greens and a scoop of F2C Ultra-Durance. Each workout was followed up with a serving or two of F2C Rehab 3:1 and each evening I made sure to fit in a 30-60min session with my Rapid Reboot. Note: If you are interested in trying out the F2C Products you can use the discount code Joel15 for 15% off your next order.

So would I recommend the camp? Absolutely. Just keep your ego in check (otherwise you are likely to be smashed mid-week), have fun with the other athletes, and enjoy learning and training in a positive environment.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

2018 Mesa-Phoenix Half-Marathon - Race Report

In 2017, I was very inconsistent with the blog so I’ll try and be a bit more regular in 2018. It was a bit of a frustrating fall/winter with regards to training setbacks, and as we soon enter spring, I’m trying to right the ship. Just when I think I’ve turned the corner, it seems like just another setback - the latest being some tenderness in my right knee late December/January. So I backed off the training for a few weeks to let the knee recover. Then after slowly trying to increase the volume running again, wham the flu – no training for a week leading into the Mesa-Phoenix Half-Marathon. So if you had asked me the goal for Mesa-Phoenix in the fall, I would have told you 1:12; if you had asked me the goal before the race, it would have been sub 1:20. It’s frustrating, but that is where my fitness is at.
Anyways, I flew into Phoenix on Thursday evening and once again stayed at my friends Jonathan and Sue Coffen. It’s always great catching up. Friday morning, I did a light run (my first run in a week) and it was evident that my fitness wasn’t there and despite the flu symptoms being gone I was still not at 100%. After the run I headed to Cactus pool for a light swim, then met up with John to go pick-up our race packages. 

Saturday morning came way too quickly and early. I was up at 0245hrs as we had planned to leave the house at 0330hrs. After a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs, a banana, and a latte, we (John, Sue, and I) headed out for the 45min drive to pick-up John’s colleague, Jen, and then make our way to Mesa-Riverview to catch the bus to the start. We had planned to catch a bus around 0415hrs as the last buses were scheduled to depart at 0445hrs. The ride to the start was uneventful and at the start everyone was crowded around heaters as it was a brisk 4°C. At 0600hrs we were off. The first hour of the race was in darkness. I opted to wear an Under Armour Base Layer under my singlet as I wasn’t convinced that running in a singlet and arm warmers was going to cut it at 3°C and with a light breeze. In retrospect, I might have been fine with just the singlet, but this way I was comfortable but perhaps a tad warm.

I planned to start the race at 3:50/km and then go by feel. Once the race started I held myself back and quickly realized a small group was forming. We went through the first km in 3:41/km and I figured that was close enough. I stayed with that group of 6-7 athletes for the first 15kms and we hovered between 3:40-3:44/km. I could tell my lungs weren’t up to the task, but my legs felt very good. At around the 15k point I started struggling keeping contact with the group as my right quad and hamstring started to tighten up. I struggled through the last 6kms struggling to hold a sub 4min/km pace but as I came up the finishing shoot and saw 1:18 on the clock I knew I could get under 1:20 if I pushed a little so that’s what I did. 

Final time 1:19:58. 59th OA and 15th in M30-34. 

All things considered – exactly what I expected. Certainly not happy with my fitness level, but it is what it is. A quick review of my HR file revealed exactly what I suspected…my hr was ~7bpm higher this year than the equivalent pace last year -> my body was still recovering from the flu.

I guess the sub 1:12 will have to wait till next year! I’ll be back!
Finisher's Medal & Shirt!

Up next a week long TriSutto training camp in Scottsdale with  #teambarnes!

Sunday, 15 October 2017

2017 Ironman World Championship Race Report - DNF

As a friend reminded me, sometimes you're the nail and sometimes you're the hammer; well, today I was clearly the nail. I woke up at 0330hrs, had my usual breakfast of a couple eggs, a bagel with jam, a cup of orange juice, and of course a cup of coffee. At around 0430 we departed the house and headed down to transition. There was very little waiting to get through security, complete body marking, and weigh-in. Once that was done, it was to my bike to inflate my tires, drop off my nutrition, and then play the waiting game. My power meter didn't seem to be cooperating as the calibration numbers were way off from normal. It had rained heavily the night before and I've seen it before that when it gets wet its inaccurate (I guess I will have to send it in to get checked out). I wasn't too concerned as I knew I could ease myself into the bike.

Age Group Men - Swim Start
The pro men started at 0635 hrs, the pro women at 0640hrs, and then we, the age group men, were off at 0705hrs. I was in the water about 0645 and then swam out and lined up just left of the Roka Buoy. When the cannon went off at 0705 we were off. I was absolutely shocked how smooth the start was this year. I quickly found some open water and settled into my pace. About 500m I found a good set of feet and stayed on them until the turn around. At the turn around it was a little chaotic, but I found another set of feet and rode them all the way back to the pier. As I exited the water I saw 1:08 on my watch. All things considered I was fine with that.

And then it was onto the bike. The bike was quite congested for the opening section on Kuakini Highway, but once we were out on the Queen K things started to spread out. Most people seemed to be trying to ride legally for the first bit of the course. My power meter wasn't reading right so I just settled into a steady pace. After about 45min, I reset the power meter and it then appeared to work fine for the remainder of the bike. Just before Mauna Lani, we started getting a head wind and you could see the draft packs starting to form. All of a sudden a big pack of almost 30 plus riders rolled past me. I was expecting this at some point so I just eased off my effort and let them go. After a couple aid stations that pack seemed to disperse a little and I was able to start riding through some of them. As I was cresting the hill just North of Hapuna Beach State Park (around 66km into the bike course) I crashed into another athlete. I am not sure exactly what happened, but from what I recall, someone stopped on the road (I think he was trying to fix his chain). The rider in front of me, who I was in the process of passing, swerved at the last minute and manged to just miss the stopped rider. I couldn't react quick enough and ploughed into the stopped rider. I hit the ground pretty hard and then another rider crashed into me. I quickly assessed my wounds: a bump on the left side of my back, and scrapes on my right ankle, right knee, and elbow. My lower back really hurt, but I straightened my aerobars (as best as I could), collected my bottles and computer, and then jumped back on my bike.

Riding in the aerobars was extremely uncomfortable and applying any significant amount of power through my left leg on the climbs sent throbbing pain through my lower back. I figured I could either wait for a sag vehicle or finish the bike course. I resolved that I would finish the bike course and then call it a day. I didn't want to keep Claudia waiting too long as I knew she would be waiting outside T2. So that's what I did. I was mentally done when I arrived in T2. When I got off my bike in T2 I could hardly walk as my back had completely tightened up. Clearly, not what I was hoping for but knowing I was already qualified to come back next year was certainly a welcome relief. Despite the crash and the pain through the remaining ~120km of the bike I still managed to ride a 5:16 on the bike. Power 190W Avg, 202W NP, VI 1.06. (My power numbers were down about 5% from last year)

Abrasion on my lower back.

As I reflect, I wonder if I should have tried finishing the race. I feel like I battled through the bike and I had nothing left to prove. I was in pain and didn't see the point of trying to walk/hobble the marathon. I was mentally done when I called it a day. I had no more fight in me and so now as I reflect, I believe I made the right call. It's unfortunate that the 2017 results will have DNF by my name, but I can accept that as I gave my best on the day. 

Friday, 13 October 2017

D-1: Light Activiation & Bike Check-in

Well today was filled with pre-race jitters as I'm honestly not sure what will unfold tomorrow. Training the last couple months has been less than ideal, but I'm still confident I can put a good race together - I just need to be smart. I think smart tomorrow means swimming strong, riding conservatively to the base of Hawi, pushing the climb, enjoying the descent, and then trying to ride steady back to Kona. On the run, the plan will be to ease into the run on Ali'i drive and take the opening out and back at a pace that feels easy. If I've got any legs then real push will happen coming out of the Energy Lab. Regardless of how things unfold tomorrow, I am out to have fun and really enjoy the experience.

I woke up this morning had a quick coffee and then headed out the door for a short activation ride on the Queen K. Directly following the activation ride I went for a short activation run on Ali'i. Once back to the house, I had breakfast and then headed out for a short swim. I would normally swim first, but the water was quite choppy this morning so I elected to let it calm down a little prior to swimming. I'm hoping that the water tomorrow is a litter calmer.
Stealth Steed is racked and ready to roll!
I tried to stay off my feet for the remainder of the morning. In the afternoon I had a short nap; then Alex, Claudia, and I headed down to the Pier so Alex and I could complete bike check-in. John was able to check his bike in earlier in the day as he had a lower number.

Alex headed back to the house while I did some quick shopping for the kids with Claudia. Now it's time to play the waiting game. I'm looking forward to having fun tomorrow and racing with the best in the world.

As the kids always remind me the race plan is simple: swim strong, bike hard, and run fast.
The final sunset before the 2017 Ironman World Championship!

D-2: Military Meet & Greet / RnR / Welcome Dinner

2017 Ironman World Championship - Military Division Participants
So today was my usual D-2 "rest" day. In the past, I have typically swum every day I am in Kona; however, the normal approach I take for racing is D-2 is a rest day. So rather than stick to the typical Kona pattern, I reverted to my preferred pattern of D-2 as a rest day. Taking today as a rest day meant another hour of sleep or so this morning.

Andrew Messick took time out of his busy schedule to speak to the military athletes.

Alex, John, and I representing Canada!

Once Alex and John were back from their morning swim, we all headed into town to the Military Meet & Greet hosted by Ironman. Andrew Messick, Ironman CEO, even made an appearance this year and had some kind words. It was great meeting some of the other military athletes; unfortunately, Europe didn't seem represented...I think it had to do with Ironman not having assigned a 2017 Military Qualifier in Europe.
The orange tree where Carl and the Cameleon clan usually hang out.
The staff at Greenwell Farms are always so polite and helpful.

After the Meet and Greet, Claudia and I headed back to the house and then made our annual trip to Greenwell Farms (aka where you can buy the best Kona Coffee). Unfortunately, we couldn't find Carl the Cameleon, apparently he has been in hiding the last couple days. Greenwell Farms was quite busy today, but none the less we made our purchase and then headed back to the house.

We took it very easy this afternoon. We made another trip to the Rapid Reboot house to give their compression units another try. Who knows maybe we'll come home with one.
Athletes Welcome Dinner.

This evening was the athlete welcome dinner followed by the "mandatory" race briefing. This year's theme at the athlete welcome dinner was Aloha. It was a great evening out with Claudia and our Canadian contingent.