Subscribe by Email  |  Subscribe Subscribe
Because when you're out on the course, all that's there is your internal monolog

Archives for Pre/Post Race category

Let’s put a pin in this for a bit…

My goals in 2017 were to race 2 Full distance Ironman events.  Lake Placid for training effect (and because it was close) and then Chattanooga for a PR.

At Lake Placid I developed a blinding (literally) migraine near the end of the bike.  I limped my way to T2, spent 30 minutes in the medic tent and then walked the “run” for a 15-something, nearly 16h finish.

I just tapped-out at IM Chattanooga again due to the exercise-induced migraine but this time it started to shut me down 10 miles into the bike.  By mile 30 my right eye vision was nearly gone and I had almost no power into the pedals.  Had a great swim too (57mins by my garmin), but my bike was weak from the start and just got worse as time went on..

I learned this year that, for me, 2 full Iron’s in 1 year is too much.  I’ve really lost my passion for the sport and I’m going to do “other things” to occupy my time for a bit.  May go back to single-sport bike and run racing and try to improve my single sport performance.  For now, I’m going to enjoy the fall: hang out with Kim and the dogs, maybe do some kayaking and cross-country skiiing if we get snow this year.  Maybe do some crossfit.. unsure, but a vacation from Triathlon is definitely in the cards.

And so, I’ll put a placeholder here with the InternalMonoblog.  At this crossroads, I wish you all well until we meet again.



This is a great panel discussion – definitely a good watch.

Discussion panel with Chris McCormack, Sebastian Kienle, Andi Boecherer & Rinalds Sluckis – YouTube.

Ironman Mont Tremblant: The Sequel

Jumping to the end I improved my 2012 time by nearly 15 minutes and almost did a sub-12 hr event.  I’m happy that I improved my PR, I finished strong and feeling good.

Comparing the two years isn’t totally fair: it was hotter on the run this year and windier on the ride (and the wind was inconsistent seemingly blowing from all directions).   Caveats aside lets compare the two years:

Swim T1 Bike T2 Run Total
1:20:14 13:16 5:51:12 4:19 4:46:47 12:15:48
Swim T1 Bike T2 Run Total
1:11:46 10:11 5:53:42 3:46 4:41:43 12:01:08

Getting out of the water I was very happy with my swim improvement.  Sub 1hr is the next goal for this distance in the swim and next time I’ll use the suit strippers to work on getting that T1 down (10 minutes is excessive… 5 would be much better).

Unfortunately, for all the things that worked well in training, my nutrition on race-day was total crap and I started feeling its effects even during the swim.  I’m not sure if I swallowed water in the swim or if it was the Passion Fruit flavoured GU gels (#fail, I’d never tried this flavour before swimming before – dumb dumb dumb and yes I do know and should’ve known better) that I swallowed before the swim start, but something unsettled my belly.  From about 1/2 way through the swim and all the way through the bike I had the “lump in your throat, you’re gonna puke” feeling.  In T1 I managed to eat a bonk breaker bar, but unfortunately from then through the end of the bike I didn’t manage to choke down more than maybe 200-300 calories.  Note: I trained with and normally consume 400-600 calories on the bike at the intensity level I was pushing on Sunday.  So rather than 500×6 hrs (3000 calories), I had a bonk breaker and 200-300 calories of the nutrition I’d planned and trained with.

Given the lack of nutrients coming in, the lack of electrolytes coming in and the energy I was expending, it’s not much of a surprise that my back started to cramp and spasm at about 80km.  I had to stop twice (briefly) to stretch out spasms that nearly pulled me off my bike and had to stop once to shake a bee out of my helmet (yea that coulda really sucked).   Also nearly hit a deer on my bike coming down Lac Superior at Mach3.. at first when I saw it I thought a fan had put a hunting decoy beside the road, but then as I approached it decided that it was a good time to cross the road.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to try to stop and she cleared the road without causing any incident.   Given the wind, and my fuelling problems, I’m ok with my bike split, but would really love to know what it’d have been had my nutrition issue not been there.

Coming off the bike and into the run my stomach had settled enough that I could start taking in some nutrition without throwing it back up.  My run, obviously, started slowly as I tried to slowly add some fuel to my system without putting so much volume in my stomach that I’d get ill running.  The run was HOT but the fans were awesome: garden sprinklers, misters, hoses out to help us athletes cool down were very very welcome.  Ice water sponges at the aide stations were also very welcome.  My run actually started to feel pretty good, especially once the sun dropped a bit and we got some shade.  My last km was done at all out sprint, my garmin has me at about a 4min/km pace (which for me is blistering).  I hit the line and was all smiles.  I felt great and had met several of my goals in the face of my fuelling adversity.

Ironman is never easy.  This one, for me, was as much a mental toughness test as it was a physical endurance one: it took a lot of will and focus to continue to push on the bike and into the run on nearly no fuel.   There was no way I was gonna stop, or even let myself pull back on the intensity unless my body just was completely unable (which it wasn’t). Sometimes bull-headed-ness has its’ value I guess.

2014 I’m not planning on doing any full-Iron distance events: just 70.3’s and Oly’s and maybe some off-road tri’s.  I really want to work on speed: especially in my run.  If I look at my typical age-group placement, I usually move forward in the rankings on the bike, then lose a lot of ground on the run.  That needs to be fixed if I want to be competitive. 🙂

Thanks again to the staff and especially the volunteers who made Ironmon Tremblant a memorable event once again!

In a few short days it’ll all be over for ironman Mont Tremblant 2013. The hundreds, or perhaps thousands of hours of training will have coalesced into a day of excitement, challenge, doubt and victory.  It seems like just days ago I was commenting on how far away the race seemed, now its here and sooner than I would like it will be done.  In fact, this morning I’m feeling a little schedule tension for the few things that I must get done today and the time windows they must occur in (this will be better after I finish my coffee).

Am I ready? Sure I am.  Could I be more ready? At this point in my racing career? No probably not. As with many others, I hope for a perfect day but have backup plans and goals for the less than perfect.  In the end, I will cross the finish line with a smile on my face and a feeling in my soul that, perhaps, only ironmen can truly understand.

In many ways everything has come together so easily that my pre-race nerves are almost non-existant.  Its’ kinda cool; yes, there is anticipation but more like that of going to the annual fall fair than that of going for dental surgery (lol).  All that said, last night, for the 1st time ever, I had a race-related dream wherein I “finished” the race but somehow by accident didn’t do the second lap of the run course and thought I’d completed.  In the dream, it wasn’t until after I was back in my room that I realized my error and I was debating what I should do.  Definitely an odd dream. 🙂

Thanks to all who’ve, once again, helped me toe the line on Sunday:

I’m bib number 2233.  You can follow my progress on, or with the smartphone app IronTrac.

Cya at the finish line!

Ready to Rock: Welland 1/2 Iron


Training has been going really well.  Looking forward to testing my fitness tomorrow at the Welland 1/2 Iron distance tri.  Hopefully the weather co-operates.  Currently calling for 30C, humid and thunderstorms.  I’d be happier with no humidity and sun, but you can’t control the weather.

Leadman Marquee 125 Training Week and Race Recap

Wow! It’s been quite the whirlwind 12 days in hot, dry and sunny Arizona!  I left Toronto on April 4th, just in time to miss the unseasonably cold spring (winter) weather that hit the area and few to Phoenix with a follow-on drive to Yuma, Arizona where I’d stay for a week to train and try to get used to the desert heat.

Pre-Race Training Week in Yuma
I have to tell you: from the weather-perspective, Arizona in April is about as different from Toronto as you could imagine.  Arizona was wonderfully hot (30+ Celsius on most days) and dry.  The breezes when they blew were welcome friends rather than bone-chilling foes.  I love the sun and the dry-heat. LOVE IT!  Arizona for the last 12 days did not disappoint.

My friends Elyse and Devin were awesome hosts in Yuma.  They opened their home to me, providing me a comfortable and hospitable base to live and train from for a week.  I cooked for us all and “forced” them to eat my healthy cooking.  I think I made Devin almost like vegetables 🙂  I was especially happy to hear him rave about using collard greens as burrito/taco shells.  Go Devin!

In Yuma, I found a nice outdoor pool to swim in and no shortage of places to ride and run.  Even though Yuma isn’t known for being particularly cyclist friendly, I found the drivers always gave me a lot of room and respect on the road and never felt endangered.  My training time in Yuma was truly wonderful.  One of the highlights for me was a 90km box-route that left Yuma and did a square to San Luis, AZ.  San Luis was roughly 2/3 of the way through the ride and a great place to stop quickly to resupply. I rode this route a few times during the week and each time it had a slightly different characteristic.

The 1st ride of the route was a zone3 ride, feeling out the route and shaking-out the flight with a long ride.  The sun was hot and I got a bit baked but it was a great ride and definitely one I knew I’d repeat.  Wide, freshly paved roads with large paved shoulders and almost no traffic made for a super-comfortable training route.

The repeat of this route brought new challenges: rather than a zone3 easy-ish ride it was to do more solid tempo work.  Mother nature had other plans.  15k into the ride, the winds started to wake up.  As I was riding south out of Yuma, the winds were greeting me head-on.  I thought to myself, “Well this leg of the trip is short.  I’ll have a side wind for a lot and a tail wind toward the end when I’m getting tired to push me home.  All good!”.  As Route 195 bent to the west, the wind also shifted and gained strength: first out of the west, then the north-west. I was now riding in a full-on “Haboob”. Sustained winds of 25mph with recorded gusts to 38mph and me riding directly into it.  The big sky of a few days ago disappeared into a brown cloud of dust in all directions.  Sand was snaking down the road and drifting across it in places!  More than once I had to stop to clear the sand from my eyes, nose, mouth and shoes. Toward the end of the ride I was actually riding with the wind.  I took a lane of the 2 lane Route95 and was pedalling faster than cars were driving. Crazy fun!  Surprisingly, all this snotty weather only added 10 minutes to my round-trip time.  Definitely a good tempo workout!

Running in Arizona was a different beast.  Think HOT.  No. I mean think hotter than that, plus some.  My 1st run was an hour brick off the 1st loop ride.  I took my fuel belt with 4 flasks and drained it before the 30 minute mark!  Finding resupply was paramount!  Refilling the fuel belt and taking a cold shower with the rest of the water got me through the run.  Subsequent runs I knew better: Craft Cool Shirt, Ultraspire Surge 3L water-pack and ice in the shirt were the winning formula for keeping the pace up and the body core temperature down.

And Off to Tempe
After a week in Yuma, it was time to transition to a pre-race locale and taper-time: drive to Tempe, race checkin and athlete briefing, grocery shopping, and finally meet with my host Cindy.  Cindy was an awesome host.  Her apartment is small but she’s a generous spirit and opened her home to me as though we’d been friends for years.  An added perk was that her apartment was about 3 blocks from the race location.  How cool is that!

Tempe was already a triathlon buzz when I arrived on Friday:  not only were the 3 distances of the Leadman race happening on Sunday, but on Friday and Saturday the USAT Collegiate Nationals were running.  Thousands of triathletes, literally, all over the place.  The vibe was electric!  The vendors were already setup and was there.  I got to meet Bryan and Justin and had a bit of a home-base in the race-village.  Thanks guys!  One unfortunate side-effect of the nationals was that it was impossible to pre-ride the bike course because a lot of it was in use by those athletes.

The Race
Race morning arrived quickly enough. Transition set, suit on and into the lineup.  Pre-race meditation and deep breathing time and we were away!  2.5k swim, 109.5k bike, 13k run! GO!  The water was pretty nasty: I don’t think it was pollution so much as just a lot of suspended silt.  It was thick.  We were swimming by braille.  You literally couldn’t see your hand in front of your face!  I had a start spot for the swim at the front of my wave, and generally this was a good spot for me: rather than swimming over a lot of people, I’d only have to deal with being battered by a few who started behind me, but were stronger swimmers.  In the 1st 15 minutes of the swim that meant about 3 people.  Unfortunately at 20 minutes I was swimming beside someone and they kicked my Garmin 910XT which was on my wrist with the quick-release mount.  As soon as they did I knew it’d happened, the 910 was gone.  The water deep and mirky like chocolate milk, there was no way I’d find it and no point in trying to. *sigh*!  Unfortunately, my swim pacing was being driven by a repeating 15 minute alert on the 910 so, I swam on, holding the best pace and line that I could.

My swim felt good, my line was nearly buoy to buoy without a lot of wasted swim distance/time. Exiting the water there was a chute of wetsuit strippers.  I never use strippers as I can usually strip the top of my suit before I’m close to my bike and the bottom in a few seconds once I’m there.  These strippers were, um.. aggressive?  Trying to run the chute I was mauled by several helpful volunteers who didn’t understand that I really didn’t want their services.  No matter, suit off, and then to get ready for the bike.

Knowing how the Arizona sun would bake me and drive up my core temperature, I gave myself only 1 choice for a top for the race.  Frequently I got with a tri-top, but I knew from my Yuma experiences that I wouldn’t have enough shelter from the sun or enough cooling from a tri-top.  I’d only brought my Craft cool shirt to wear, so that I couldn’t at the last minute change my plan.  Unfortunately, putting on the craft shirt when wet is.. challenging.  In hindsight, I wonder if I could wear it under my wetsuit.  I’ll have to experiment with that.  Fortunately, I’d planned to use my Sportiiiis for bike and run output monitoring.  Even though my Garmin was with the fish, I didn’t have to ride or run by feel alone.

The bike course was supposed to be a long out-and-back route into the desert, but in the last few days before the race it was changed to 4 loops of a roughly 26km route that had no fewer than 4 tight 180degree turns and countless sharp 90 degree corners.  At one point this course would have Leadman, Olympic and Sprint distance cyclists on it.  I was very concerned about congestion before the race, but other than 1 close-call I had no issues.  One plus of the revised course was that we got 2 aide stations per loop (8 in total), which was super-good as I needed all the water I could grab to drink and wear.  I was happy with my ride.  With the Sportiiiis I was keeping my power in the 200w average and keeping my heart-rate in upper z3, low z4. Post ride I found that my average speed had been about 32km/h which given all the sharp corners, hairpin turns and congestion I’m very happy with.  As I was finishing the ride I dumped 2L of water over my arms, legs and core.  I could feel this drop my body temp and refresh me for the run.

Off the bike onto the run I felt good.  In fact, other than having to stop to pee, and stopping for water and ice at every aide station on the run, I ran most of the 13k non-stop at a 5:00-5:10/km pace. A good chunk of the 13k was technical trail with some pretty solid hills.  Yea I briskly walked those to save my legs, it was a good approach as I finished the run solid and feeling good.  I still need to work my run speed as it’s my weakest discipline, but Ian and I are definitely making progress here.

I’d estimated that I’d finish between 5 and 6 hours, my finish time: 5:33:17!  Pretty much right in the middle.  Comparing myself to the podium finishers in my age-group: my swim close, my ride 15-20 minutes off and my run 20-30 minutes off.  I’m very happy with my performance and feel that Ian and I are on the right track for pushing the run, especially the run off the bike, faster.  Thanks Coach!

In terms of nutrition/hydration strategy for the race, I went with what I know works for me:

  •  pre-race EFS sport drink and some EFS liquid shot to top off fuel before the swim,
  •  a BiestBooster 1 loop into the bike course to boost energy levels for the 2nd half of the race,
  •  EFS liquid shot on the bike (had 1200 calories of this with me but only got through about 400)
  •  PickyBars (had 2, but dropped 1/2 of one hitting a bump 🙁 ) and some dried fruit on the bike
  •  a HoneyStinger waffle when I was in and leaving T2
  •  some fruit on the run

At every aide station I brought on water.  I’d drink some, and wear a lot.  On the run, I’d refill my fuel belt (2 bottles) and dump ice down the ice pocket of the craft shirt.  The water in the fuel belt was primarily used for cooling.  It was like magic, if my tempo was falling, I’d hit myself with cold water and it’d come right back up.  Good to know!

All in all, I’m very happy with the day.  I proved some approaches I’d planned. Felt well fuelled but not over-fed and managed my hydration and temperature well.

Big Thanks To
My hosts: Elyse, Devin and Cindy.
My coach: Ian McLean @
My sponsors: FirstEndurance, Blacksmith Cycle, 4iiii, and Nineteen Wetsuits
And an especially big thank you to my wonderful wife, Kim, who cheered me on from home and held the fort while I played in the sun for the last 12 days.  Staying on top of our place is a big job when there are 2 of us working at it, solo is a daunting task.  Thanks baby! You Rock!!

Race Review: North Face Endurance Challenge (50k)

I can’t believe it’s been a week since the 50k, it seems like so long ago and just yesterday all at the same time (amazing how the mind distorts time perception).

When I signed up for the 50k, I contemplated the 50mile option, but since it was a trail run with a large amount of climbing and descending, I pulled back and just signed up for the 50k.  When race morning came, I was VERY happy that I did.

The week leading up to the race, the SF bay area was wet. I mean, crazy wet!  Like flash flood wet.  It was so wet, in fact, that on the Friday night before the Saturday 50k race, the course was altered due to anticipated severe weather conditions!  

Another reason I was happy to have opted for the 50k route: the 50 mile route started at 5am!!! We, the 50k runners started at a much more civilized 7am.  

Arriving at the site, it was dark, windy, and raining. There was little shelter to be had and many of us hid in the gear drop trucks waiting for the minutes to tick by.  People, myself included, were a little dubious about why exactly we were doing this, but we were all joking around and I don’t think anyone who was there was going to be the 1st to scrub the run before it started.  Even with reports of 50 mile runners being evac’d because of injuries sustained while running the flooded trail in the dark, we were a resolute bunch (if perhaps a little insane 🙂 )

At 7 we were off.  Initially the trail wasn’t too bad, we were on a big climb, and while it was a little mushy in places and there were a few trail-edge to trail-edge puddles, it wasn’t bad.  It was raining, cool, and hazy to foggy.  At times the visibility was so poor that I couldn’t see other runners 100 feet ahead of me on the trail.  Of course, wearing glasses wasn’t a blessing in this weather and it got me thinking about laser surgery again.  

As the run progressed, the rain fell and many feet churned up the trail.  In places, the trail was in really really poor shape.  I was joking around with people saying it was like trying to run in partly set chocolate pudding, or like trying to run up and down 20% grades in Super Slider Snow Skates.  Remember these?

There were people bombing down these hills without seemingly any regard for personal safety.  If it hadn’t been for the frequency of the rocks jutting out of the mud, I may have joined them, but visions of face planting into a boulder had me slowing and picking my steps more carefully.   Down on these slippery slopes was challenging,  up was… well ridiculous!  More than once I nearly lost shoes in the mud.  A few times, while trying to clamber up one of these Tough Mudder hills I lost traction and slid backwards no less than 20 feet.  Fortunately I was laughing or I think I’d have been crying. 

At around my 40k mark the rain broke and the sun tried to come out.  It was very welcome and psychologically well timed. 

Soon I was running into the finish line, I’d done it, my gps read 48k but given the last minute course reroute I figured it was probably just the best they could do.  


When I got to the finish line there was an aide station and people saying if this was your 1st time here to go back out for another lap.  48k? Another lap?  “Lap of WHAT?” I thought.  But perhaps they’d figured some way to add 2k to get to the 50k.  Crushing to be within 10′ of the finish line and sent back out, but so be it.  My watch was at about 6:15 and I went back out.  

I ran… and ran… and eventually made my way to the previous aide station.  My gps now at nearly 50k I ask the aide station where I’m supposed to turn around… They explain that there was an error and I should have finished.  I laughed.  They were very apologetic but I didn’t care.  I was having fun and after 50k what was another 2!  So I ran back in.  

Approaching the finish line for the 2nd time, I high-5’d all the same people I had maybe 10 minutes prior.  We were all laughing. It was just silly.  I think my “official” finish time is something like 6:30, but I like my 6:15 1st finish better 🙂

The Fnish-Line festival was pretty damped by the weather.  It was very small, and very soggy. That said, the post-race meal was better than almost any other race I’ve ever attended!  There was (omg) salad(!!!), chicken(!!!) and (not that I had any) pasta with sauce, and, if I recall, soup.   There was also finisher beer to be had (again not for me, but it was there!) 

One thing that surprised me was how psychologically challenging the weather made the day:  I knew going into it that it’d be physically challenging and I was prepared for that, but the weather, cold, wet, mud and ground conditions really challenged my mental resolve.  Physically, the day was probably a little easier because of all the forced walking, but mentally I had to dig deep and fight out of a dark place that, to date, I’d never encountered before.

It was definitely a fun day and a good challenge for my first Ultra.  Yea… it won’t be my last 🙂  Too much fun 🙂

Wow!  Just wow!


IM Tremblant: Race Day Nutrition

Sitting in a cafe at Tremblant drinking green tea and passing time til dinner, I figure now is as good a time to write about my race day nutrition plan as any. So here it is:

My nutrition plan has changed a bit over this summer: I’ve started including more solid and natural nutrition into the mix. I still heavily rely on FirstEndurance liquid shot and drink but now have added my home-made energy bites into the mix with great results.

Today, the day before the race, I’m eating a lower fibre diet, still whole foods and largely unprocessed but no big salads, mostly cooked veg and light, easily digested fish and/or eggwhites for protein. I’ll aim to eat to a zero calorie deficit today and each time I wake at night to pee, I’ll top up with a banana.

For breakfast I’ll have a coffee and a banana, granola and cottage cheese (normal brekkie).

Pre-swim I’ll eat 2 GU Rocktane with some water.

Out of the swim, for the first 5-10k I’ll drink just water and let my system settle before putting any kind of fuel in. On the bike I have 2 flasks of EFS liquid shot diluted with water in a speedfil a2 (800 calories) and 2 bottles of EFS drink (200 calories), a bottle of water and 10 energy bites (500 calories) and refills for each of these at the Special Needs tent. This works out to about 500 calories per hour and since I hope to finish the ride in a little less than 6 hrs, my goal is to consume most of this.

The run is similarly planned. 10 bites, 1 flask and 1 EFS drink per 2 hrs with refills in special needs.

I expect that this will be my last blog post until Monday. Though I may try to do a quick finish time post Sunday night. I’m #1176. You can track me on or with the irontac app on a smartphone.

Cya on the other side of hearing: Rick Yazwinski… You… Are… An… Ironman! 🙂

IM Tremblant: The Drive

I tried to record a podcast while I was driving and recorded about 60 minutes of content and then this morning, accidentally erased a huge part of it, so… I’ll try to, from memory, recreate the content here.  It was an ok experiment, but I really hate the sound of my recorded voice, so I’m not sure it’s one that I’ll repeat.

The drive was not terrible, except for a speeding ticket.  The officer was nice enough to knock it down to $50 and no points, so given the alternative, I’ll take it!

Today (Friday) is carb loading day.  So I’ll be doing my normal ~150g of protein, < 15% dietary fat (good fats) and trying to eat 700g (1g per kg of body weight) of carbohydrate.  I don’t normally succeed in the full 700g, but get close.  It’s hard when you don’t eat grains, bread, pasta, etc.

I’m really torn about the whole concept of carb loading: for an event like this (10+ hrs of go go go), you’d exhaust your glycogen stores of 1600-2000 calories in the 1st couple of hours, you would either be constantly eating to keep yourself going (which you can’t), or you’d be burning fat.  Since the goal of endurance sport is to be in the fat-burning-zone what does carb loading have to do with anything?  Beyond wanting to make sure that your body’s glycogen stores are loaded, so that you have the glycogen to help metabolize fat, I’m not sure that carb loading makes sense.  I’ve never carb loaded for training (even the big days: big bike and runs) and never bonked..  That being said, I’ve done a carb loading protocol 2 days before the race for every race I’ve done and I’m not going to stop for such a big event.

Got a busy day ahead of me today so I’m going to stop here for now.  I have a short easy ride, have to checkin, have a massage at 2-3, meeting w. Ian at 4, athlete’s briefing at 5.   If I get a chance I’ll blog my race day nutrition plan later today or tomorrow.


Enhanced by Zemanta