Friday, July 25, 2014

2014 Ironman Lake Placid Part 1

Sara, Logan and I ventured out Monday night for Lake Placid for this year's Ironman. We split the trip up and slept overnight in Kingston as I had to get some work done there. After a nice breakfast Tuesday morning and some work it was on to Placid. We crossed over in Ogdensburg as we always do - a quiet border and beautiful scenery as we head into the Adirondacks.

The mighty St. Lawrence River, home to the 1000 Islands.

The trip in was nice, no issues. Lake Placid remains the same as it always is. Arriving on the Tuesday, however, is different - it's still pretty quiet with most athletes not arriving yet.

Main Street Lake Placid.

Bear selfie.

My machine for the race. Big Beast John Ceko lent me his Zipp 808s for the race. I told him I may not be fast but at least I will look fast - what a poser!

Our cottage - the Homestead on Haselton. I booked this place online for the good price but I was initially a little leary about what it would be like inside. Boy was I pleasantly surprised!! It was quite spacious, had absolutely everything we needed, internet, satellite and it's on the race course. Sara can watch the race while Logan has internet - win, win.

We ventured into town to register. Setup was near complete. At registration I got a nice surprise. Based on my racing last year I qualified as a Bronze level All World Athlete (top 10% in my AG in the world) with the WTC. One of the perks was a separate registration line for AWA athletes. I saved myself at least 30 minutes as the regular registration line went all the way downstairs and out the door to the conference center. I went straight to the AWA desk and registered with no one in line - a bonus given Logan is not big on waiting!

Coachie likes the training playground here. Since I'm in taper mode she's got a good couple of weeks to get some training in. No shortage of people swimming, biking and running this week!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Big Weekend of Training!

Weather's been up and down of late but I'm rolling with it. This past weekend, 2 weeks from race day, was huge. I already had a great week of training but now it was going to be the biggest one yet in prep for Lake Placid.

We started out Saturday morning at Gullivers Lake. What a nice view. The lake is very clean and clear - a rare thing in Southern Ontario.

One lap around is 1k. The plan was to do 4k. I did the first 2k with Sara and then worked the back 2k at the upper end of my aerobic zone. I felt good throughout. This week was a good swim week for me: Tuesday - 4200m, Thurs - 3000m and Sat - 4000m.

Rob and his Mom also joined us. Rob did the 4k in prep for IM Mont Tremblant and his Mom, 66 years young, is doing IM Cambridge (her 4th). We both have great taste - we have the same Xterra wetsuit and the exact same Trek Speed Concept - too funny. Rob's Mom did a short swim and run as she was racing the Valens sprint tri the next morning. She's a machine!

Next on the menu - long bike. Sara joined us for 90k and then Rob and I headed towards Paris to get some hills in. It was heating up but I loved it. Rob and I parted ways at around 160k and I rode home to a final tally of 181k. It was a good ride and all-around great training day.

I took this pic just after getting attacked by a protective Mamma bird who did not like how close I was to her nest. It hit me right on top of the helmet! We ended up doing a second loop past the nest and the bird went after me again but no contact the second time. Gotta love nature!

Rob the Cycling Machine. On the Sunday I battled some big rain but managed to get 18k of Kings Forest hills followed by 13.5k of country roads for a run tally of 31.5k. I am satisfied with my training and hope to really enjoy race day.

On a side note - I'm currently in Windsor for work. If you ever find yourself here go to the Windsor International Aquatic Centre. A beautiful facility with an indoor water park for the kids on one side, gym upstairs, and a gorgeous 50m pool on the other side. The pool has platform and board diving and will host the 2016 25m FINA World Champs. I went there when it was 25m only but had my own lane the entire time. In fact, lane swimming was available all day, every day except for a break between 5:30-7:00pm. Now that's awesome!


Friday, July 11, 2014

Busy Life!!

So when I last left you I was in St. John's Newfoundland. I had a great time on the Rock but now it was time to get back to the mainland. Of course, the day I left St. John's it was a warm 23C and clear. The clear part was good as I needed to get the flight out on time. It was cool seeing NFLD from the air. I could make out an iceberg in the distance - hard to see but it's the white dot in the ocean.

Beautiful. Once I landed I was hit with the familiar Ontario humidity. I landed at 7:30pm and it's was 35C with the humidity. I got my suitcase and headed north to meet up with Sara and Logan who were camping in Muskoka, Dwight to be exact. I would be doing some work and training there - love those hills!

The boys. I did not get into the smores - Lake Placid is within 4 weeks. I did manage to get a open water swim in with the TriMuskoka training club. We did almost 2K in Harp Lake at 6:15am - arghh. The water was surprisingly warm and the setting was stunning. I even saw a bear running across the road. I also learned that IM Muskoka should be a reality for 2015 with a late August date to be announced in the near future! Muskoka 70.3 would then be moved to early July - exciting news!

Coach and I going over our training plans for the next couple of weeks. Logan and I did some intervals at Dwight beach. These were 250m in length - I was running and Logan was on his bike. We'd "race" for the 250 then head slowly back 250 for recovery. We ended up doing 10 reps and it usually ended with Logan blasting past me saying "smell you later!" We got lots of laughs from the beachgoers who were wondering what the heck we were doing.

Love sitting by a campfire - relaxing!

On the Wednesday I went for a long ride. I did the Muskoka 70.3 course minus the North Portage to Deerhurst out n' back. This worked out to 75k of hills. I met Sara and Logan at Dwight Beach to reload on beverages and nutrition and decided to head up to Algonquin Park. I was SO glad I did. The shoulder along Hwy 60 through Algonquin is huge - you could easily ride two abreast the entire way. Traffic doesn't have to worry about cyclists and everyone wins - some planner was really thinking on this one! Not only that the pavement is incredible - most of the paving has been done in the last couple of years. There were loads of hills and plenty of places to reload nutrition along the way. Once past the West Gate the kilometres are marked as well. Whenever I head to Muskoka in the future this will be my go-to ride!!
Ironman training is going well. My Muskoka long ride was my 5th 160+km ride of the season so I'm rounding into form. There are always a couple of niggles to monitor but, overall, my health is good. I'm hoping to have a good race. I plan on enjoying the day. I wasn't in the right mindset at all last year - in fact, I dreaded the training for the most part. This year I'm feeling a lot better. Work is going well, Logan has been progressing (he is becoming quick the young man), and my stomach troubles from last year have not been present (knock on wood). So based on that I feel good. Confidence in my run is still a question mark however. Due to the stomach troubles my runs for last year were 4:30 (Placid) and 4:45 (Florida). My previous runs prior to 2013 were 3:53 (Placid) and 3:57 (Wisconsin). I know what I'm "capable" of  - I just have some anxiety still when it comes to my stomach as I never had stomach issues during my first 6 Ironmans. I plan to take it out slow and cautious and see what happens - hopefully it will all work out.
Happy Training - Cheers!

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Rock

Last Thursday at the crack of dawn I boarded a plane heading to St. John's Newfoundland for a urology conference. I would be there for 5 days. This conference is always on Canada Day weekend - not ideal considering I have IM Lake Placid in 4 weeks but I try to make the best of it.

Beautiful Lake Ontario from the air.

Once I landed in Blow Me Down NFLD - I kid you not, the airport is in Blow Me Down - I gathered my stuff and headed to the hotel for my first meeting. The fog here is unbelievable. We were literally 500 feet above the runway before I could see it. I also noticed it was quite cool here - 6C when I landed. After the meeting some co-workers and I headed to Signal Hill for a run. Signal Hill has some amazing trails across the rugged landscape.

As photographer I was always at the back of the bus but I got some cool shots. One thing for sure there is no shortage of steep hills here. Above pic - after some considerable climbing we went downhill quickly to meet up with the trail start.

The trail hugs the rock face. In a couple of places there is a chain to hold onto as the drop off the cliff is big and you're only on a singletrack trail.

Two-thirds of the way up. A cool view with a couple of icebergs in the background.

We had a brief descent before the final climb to the top of Signal Hill.

You can see the trail snake it's way up to the summit.

Final push - no running up this!

Up top with (L-R): Cory, Marc-Andre, Jean-Francois, and some Dork

Signal Hill

View of the harbour from Signal Hill

I told Cory to pose with the cannon - this is what he came up with! Cory has done IM Lake Tahoe and is doing the Lake Tahoe 70.3 this year.

Once we descended into St. John's again we paid tribute to Terry Fox. The statue is dedicated to where Terry dipped his prosthetic leg in the Atlantic and began his Marathon of Hope. I've had the privilege of getting pictures at the 3 monuments for Terry Fox - 1 in St. John's, 1 in Ottawa, and finally where he stopped in Thunder Bay. What an amazing individual.

On Day 3 we went on a cruise. The sun was out but still cold.

Preet cool how the houses are built into the rock.

Hard to see but here's a shot of the Signal Hill Trail.

The little structure on top is Signal Hill building.

This is the iceberg we were tracking down.

This thing was 8 stories high and went 300 feet under the water. The guide said it was 20, 000 years old and had traveled down from Greenland. He also said it would break apart over the next 24 hours. The ice is so compact and the locals will collect some floating chunks of ice to be used in bars and restaurants for drinks - the ice causes the drinks to bubble and lasts a long time due the compressed oxygen.

The iceberg ice is also used in the production of, you guessed it, Iceberg beer. You can only get this beer in Newfoundland. It was delicious!! By the way I haven't mentioned this yet - the people here are SO warm and welcoming!!

Just amazing! Finally the last surprise on the tour came with the 2 Humpback whales that were following the boat for a while. I couldn't time the camera right so I didn't get a good pic. Needless to say they were majestic!