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

Archives for Rants category

You know that pedal… the one in the car that isn’t the accelerator… kinda rectangular more or less under the steering column… it’s called the brake pedal.. use it! If the bike were a tractor, any car would slow down and pass when safe.. why treat a cyclist any differently? *sheesh*

I dunno about California, but here in Toronto, the Police regularly break the law as part of their daily routine and hardly seem to give it a second thought: speeding in residential zones, wrong way on 1 way street, parking on the sidewalk to run into Starbucks or Timmie’s.   Sure is convenient to misquote the law when it suits your purposes.

An avid bicyclist hopes to raise awareness about the vulnerability of bicyclists after a close encounter with a California Highway Patrol officer’s vehicle.

Source: VIDEO: Bicyclist confronts CHP officer in SUV after close encounter |

PALEO Superfood™

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Source: PALEO Superfood™

Ok.. I’m not a follower of any commercialized productized diet program (I eat what my body likes and avoid things that don’t feel good – pretty simple), but I’ve read a lot about the Paleo™ diet and its motivations.  I feel pretty comfortable in saying that nothing about an isolated, desiccated, ground up, powdered and packaged “food” supplement has much of anything to do with the Paleo™ ideal… just sayin…

A friend forwarded this article to me yesterday:

Pulmonary Edema and Triathlons | Triathlons Fitness Plans and Advice |

While it’s interesting, I don’t buy it.

Based on the logic that special forces cadets swimming 2.4km showed some fluid in their lungs the author is hypothesising that triathlon swim deaths are being caused by  pulmonary edema.

How then, does the author explain the competitive swimmers who log 8-10km daily 6-7 times per week.  Why aren’t they collapsing on the deck?

He cites tight wetsuits, chilly water, and several other potential causes; pretty much everything including “swimmers put their faces in the water”…

This has little to do with triathlon, other than that’s where we’re seeing these fatalities.

What I think is going on is this: many triathletes are poor swimmers, fear the swim, and don’t practice enough in the pool or in open-water race-like conditions.  They get out into the race environment, hopped up on caffeine, adrenalin, and sugar, wearing a wetsuit they aren’t familiar with, and haven’t practiced with.  The gun goes off and they sprint off the line like a bat out of hell.  Maybe they get kicked or punched or dragged on in the fray.  Maybe they suffer some panic.  Maybe they just forget to breathe because they’re hammering so hard (I’ve done this).   Now they’re in trouble, already freaked out, pulse high, CO2 high, panic sets in and it’s a tailspin from there.

I think this is, somewhat, avoidable: don’t let people enter a full-distance event until they’ve qualified by completing at least one 1/2 distance event.  WTC has also been experimenting with different approaches to the swim including waves and self-seeding.  All of their approaches are designed to have fewer swimmers congregated at any point in the swim so that safety personnel have a better chance of detecting and getting to a swimmer needing aide.

I don’t think this is a medical issue, it’s a training issue.

This constant marketing barrage about how chocolate milk is a “great recovery drink”™ is really starting to make me kinda crazy.

Screw Sports Drinks, Chocolate Milk Is the Best Post-Workout Drink | Greatist.

I dunno about you, but I don’t drink milk.. pretty much at all.  I’ll occasionally have dairy for a treat ice-cream or little bit of cheese but generally I avoid it.  I once made the mistake of succumbing to the marketing hype and tried chocolate milk post a big workout: I got so sick.  I thought I was going to vomit, then thought I was going to pass out.  It was horrible and an experience I wouldn’t ever want to repeat.

But lets go beyond that.  And lets go beyond the speculation/rumors/stories that chocolate milk is made from 2nd grade milk products that they can hide the impurities with the additives (oh yes the list is stupid: INGREDIENTS: LOWFAT MILK WITH VITAMIN A PALMITATE AND VITAMIN D3 ADDED, SUGAR, LESS THAN 2% OF COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, CALCIUM CARBONATE, CELLULOSE GEL, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, SALT, CARRAGEENAN, CELLULOSE GUM. CONTAINS: MILK INGREDIENT. ) . We’ll even go beyond the crazy high insulin response that goes along with drinking milk which forces consumed calories into stored fat.

The studies themselves don’t PROVE chocolate milk is better.  They compare chocolate milk to pure carbohydrate and to placebo.  In some tests the pure carb actually is better (like muscle glycogen resynthesis – recall the insulin response comment from above, so this isn’t a surprise.. yes carbs go to where you want them: muscle glycogen).  In some tests the chocolate milk is better, but there aren’t tests comparing 4:1 carb/protein with a little fat tests that I can find.  I.e. refuelling with more than straight carbohydrate is well known to be beneficial. And low-fat chocolate milk can provide a source for that, but it isn’t better than other nutrition choices.

In fact, with all the mysterious crap, processing, handling, anti-biotics, growth hormones, filth and disease that go with today’s factory milk farming, I’d be hard pressed to recommend milk at the most desperate of times.


Gertie’s 1st Day Out

Today I had to do a 3.5hr ride and brick run, the weather in Toronto was finally cooperative and I decided to take my new Storck Aero2is (aka Gertie) out for her maiden voyage, and I have to say that I’m very happy I did so, on a number of fronts.  The boys at Blacksmith Cycle did a great job putting her together and for her maiden voyage there were very few glitches.

Here’s a pic of me and Gertie:

2012 04 07 15 15 36

Was a great day for a ride today, temp in the low teens (Celsius), light winds, full sun: hard to beat especially in April in Toronto!  I was a little concerned about being cold (especially my feet) but was pretty good with a jersey, shorts, arm and leg warmers and gloves.

For fuel today I relied exclusively on First Endurance EFS Liquid Shot.  Liquid shot is amazing stuff: 400cal’s per flask, comes in bulk quantities, has no gelling agents (which are sometimes causes of GI distress and are frequently diuretics), and has very high electrolyte levels (over 1.5g) and amino acids (over 1g).  If you haven’t tried Liquid Shot, you’ve done yourself a disservice.  Also, First Endurance just released a new flavour of Liquid Shot: Kona Mocha.  This is probably the best flavour going (followed, in my opinion, by vanilla).  You have to try it!

Loving the DI2

Before I talk about any negatives, I have to rave about DI2.  I’ll start by warning you: Don’t test ride a bike with DI2 unless you’re planning to upgrade to DI2!  Seriously!  On TT bikes and tri-bikes having the shifters on both the aerobar ends and on the brake levers, is ridiculously cool!  And cool in ways that I didn’t expect!

I expected to love the extra shifters on the brakes when I had to stop or pull up a hill or suddenly needed to be in a lower gear than I had been, and sure, they’re good for that.  But, they’re also GREAT when you’re up out of the saddle, cranking hard, and want to be in a higher gear (passing, climbing, getting cadence back up, etc.).  Being able to, with the touch of a finger, be in the gear you want to be in is FREAKING AMAZING!

Historically, I didn’t go to indexed shifting because I found the indexing difficult to tune (especially if you were changing wheels or cassettes frequently)  and, psychologically, I found the indexing somehow more difficult to operate (don’t ask – I know it doesn’t make sense).  So I always turned off indexed shifting and used friction mode.  I found that in friction mode I shifted more often and maintained consistent power output better.  Well, move over friction, DI2 has clobbered that.  I now find myself shifting like a man possessed: “oh this is a little harder” <shift down>.. “this is too easy” <shift up>.  Power output: super consistent!  Love! LOVE! LOVE!!!

Teething Pains and Torhans Woes

Generally, Gertie is amazing! So much fun to ride: stiff, fast and responsive. There is, in fact, nothing about this bike I don’t like! But I did have a few minor teething pains today. The two worth mentioning were the seat height adjustment and my frustrations with the Torhans 30 hydration system.

1st seat height: my 2nd biggest source of frustration on the ride.  6 times I had to stop and reset my seat height as the adjuster had loosened off from road vibrations.  I was a little nervous about over-tightening the adjuster as I didn’t want to stress the frame (I’m going to see if there are torque guidelines for the adjuster, but haven’t yet).   The adjuster is hard to describe, but it’s a wedge that sits in front of the seat post and is pulled into a friction position with a screw.  Anyhow.. I’ve added a little friction tape to the assembly and think that this may solve the problem as there was really very little that the assembly could get purchase on to stop it from vibrating loose.  Definitely happy that I found (and hopefully fixed) this before NOLA in 2 weeks.  Of course, all the riding on the trainer didn’t show this because there were no road bumps to shake it loose.  I’ll have to get out on the road a few more times before I leave for NOLA to make sure this is sorted.

My biggest frustration on the ride though, has to be the Torhans 30 hydration system.  OH! MY! GAWD! I HATE this thing.  In Panama I used it for the 1st time and was sprayed with the contents repeatedly.  I just figured I was doing something wrong, so I hit the net and did some research.  I found some people who said they only filled similar systems 1/2 full to get around spray issues.  I found some other people who said to cut a little triangle out of the inner spray-back flap so that filling put more liquid into the bottle and less in the gap between the 2 covers.  Well, I tried both of these approaches today and I still ended up wearing a LOT of the contents of the bottle.  I got so frustrated with it, that at one point I was really tempted to yank it off the bike and drop it at the side of the road!   Suffice it to say, it’s going (want it?  Make me an offer!)  I’ll go back to a water bottle between the bars or better yet a Speedfil A2.

Baby Pictures

As promised here are some baby pictures of Gertie.

Here she is as ridden today, don’t really love the HED Tri-Spoke but it’s an ok training wheel:

2012 04 07 15 09 13

Love the Adamo Podium saddle, looks like one of the surprise potholes I hit dropped the nose a bit – it started the ride level!

2012 04 07 15 09 48

Classic speedfil for water – love this system:


2012 04 07 15 10 00

Quarq powermeter, Look Keo Blade pedals and DI2 (tasty!):

2012 04 07 15 10 18

More Di2 (rear):

2012 04 07 15 10 32

The cockpit, 910xt and the soon to be GONE Torhans 30:

2012 04 07 15 10 51

Bike Pure:

2012 04 07 15 11 40

Want a ride like this?  I bet you do!  Talk to the folks at Blacksmith Cycle, they’ll hook you up.  Storck isn’t  a well known brand in North America (yet), but based on the performance of this beauty, that’s soon going to change!  Wow! Just WOW!

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IMPanama Countdown: Day 6: Groomin and V’roomin

Rode a new road today, no speed bumps on this one and closer to home.  It’s a nice road, a little narrow, but not heavily trafficked and with very few potholes.  It climbs from the highway up into the nearby mountains.

No, I didn’t go bike mountain climbing today, that’s not what a taper is made of, but I did ride down and up the foothills… twice.  The 1st time down was lotsa fun!  Fast! Oh my fast.  The 2nd time, I got stuck behind a tractor trailer pulling a massive backhoe and belching black diesel death clouds as it went.  Course, I still had to do the climb, but didn’t get the super-fun of the descent.  Oh well 🙂

I rode with the GoPro again, some nice scenery on this ride and the camera angle is a bit better.   I’m uploading now, but it says 5 hrs to go (yea not great bandwidth down here).  I’ll post a followup with the youtube link when its done (probably in the morning).

Some things I’ve found about the Torhans 30oz system that I have:

  • the lids need a way to secure them to the bottle or straw in case they pop off the top (yea it happened today, check the video)
  • the straw needs a bite valve – until the fluid level is down 50% you risk wearing a spray of your hydration whenever you take a drink
  • the aero cowling on the straw needs a dab of glue to stay on the bottle
  • don’t fill it until you’re planning to immediately put it on the bike (or fill it after you install it) because there’s no way to stand it up
  • (but with all these “issues”…) having a straw in my face is way more efficient and probable way to for me to onboard hydration.  I’m using the Torhans for fuel and the speedfil for water.   I’ll probably put about 800 calories in the Torhans and have a bottle behind my saddle with another similar 800 calorie bottle to refill the Torhans with.

Did some speed work in the pool today.  Didn’t get to swimming until later in the day and the ocean was crazy, the pool was definitely a winner.  Had it to myself and it was easy to judge sprint lengths, etc.

Mid-day today was groomin’ time.  Went in and got plucked like a Christmas Goose.  I’m now all smooth, aero and hydro-dynamic. LOL.  No really… I felt smoother and “slicker” in the water tonight.  Maybe its psychosomatic, but I’ll take every edge I can get 😉  Today was also the day that I had planned and scheduled my toe nail trim.

I scheduled my toe nail trim?!  You bet!  Ever trim your nails a bit too close and have a tender toe for days?  Ok, imagine having that tender toe, trapped in a cycling shoe, or running shoe for hours.  Not fun?  You bet!  So, what do you do?  You trim your nails early so that on race day, if you were too aggressive, you’re not suffering.  Yea this is me leaving little to chance.  But hey!  Be prepared, eh? 🙂

IMPanama Countdown: Day 18: Review Tyr Torque Pro Speedskin

I picked up a Tyr Torque Pro Speedskin for IMPanama.  Apparently the water temperature will be in the 80s (26-27C) and definitely not wetsuit legal and wanting to get any legal boost I can, I figured a speedskin is a plus.   My Torque arrive a few weeks ago and on Sunday I finally had a chance to take it for a dip.

The suit arrives in a specially designed box that rivals any packaging Apple could come up with.  You immediately get the feeling that you’ve bought a quality product that has spared little expense.  The suit itself is well made: the zipper is strong, the stitching smooth and flawless from what I can see and the fit, while snug, is flexible and “suitable” (sorry, couldn’t help it) for the task at hand.

I took the suit for my Sunday easy swim: just an easy 2k at the local Y.  Sometimes the pool is empty, but lately, with all the New Years resolutions in play, it’s been pretty crowded so my expectations of doing any kind of 2k time trial were very low.  Unfortunately, my expectations were correct.  The pool was kinda silly-busy and the “fast” lane was filled with breast-stroking, unaware, “casual swimmers”.  What this meant to me was that I wouldn’t get any hard data about how much faster the suit would make me.  I did manage to get some data and some perceptions though and I’ll share those here.

I did manage a few lengths over the 2k without being impeded, those lengths were clocking in at the 1:32/100m range, where my normal swimsuit pace lately  has been about 1:40-45/100m.  One place that the suit was VERY noticeable was pushing off from the wall: it’s hard to describe but with the same effort you seemed to cover more distance and just felt smoother.

I’ll definitely get more data on the suit and have a post-race followup on it, but my first impressions on the design, manufacture and textile selection are all very positive.

There is one negative with the suit.  After my 40 minutes in the water, most of the adhesive logos were literally falling off the suit.  I’d left some in the pool somewhere.  Some were just barely holding onto the suit.  The rest came off in my hands with no effort.  I contacted Tyr asking “what gives?!” and they just directed me to the retailer that I got the suit from (I kind of felt brushed-off).  The retailer Swim2000 tells me that this is a common complaint and the cause for many returns.  That Tyr will accept the return without issue, even after IMPanama I can just exchange it.   So on one hand, it’s great that Tyr and its’ retailers stand behind the product and offer a great return/exchange policy; but, I have to admit, given the price-tag of this suit, such a blatant manufacturing glitch should be addressed before the consumer gets the product in the first place.  Further, I think that Tyr’s response should be (at least it would have been better received by me): “We understand this problem exists with some suits and we’re working to address it in manufacturing. Please accept our apologies and get in touch with the retailer where you purchased the suit to arrange an exchange.”

Anyhow.. I’ll stop ranting.  The purpose of the suit is not to display Tyr’s logo, but to make you faster in the water. It’s goals seem to be met. More data to come.

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ProLine Sports, Nutrition and Equipment Blog: Finisher or Competitor?

I couldn’t agree more with this post.  Its not about finishing.  Finishing is almost a given.  It’s about the drive to compete, whether that’s against the field of competitors or just yourself.  If you aren’t pushing, in my opinion, you’re missing the point.

via ProLine Sports, Nutrition and Equipment Blog: Finisher or Competitor?.

Agave Nectar is Bad for Your Health

I just read this: Agave Nectar is Bad for Your Health and I’m sad.  Back to honey, maple syrup and stevia.

I guess if you mixed agave with a glucose source, it’d be “less bad” but really, it’s, from what I read here, just as terrible for you as high fructose corn syrup. 🙁

Well hell!


Wow! What a beautiful day!! Really couldn’t have asked for or even conceived of better weather for this race.  Was a little cool in the morning, prob around 10C, but the high in the afternoon was only 21C, there was an occasional light breeze and the sky, for the most part, was 100% clear.  Amazing!

My goal for the race, being my 1st 70.3 was “Sub 6 hours”, with a stretch goal in the back of my head of a target of 5:30.  I kinda knew I wouldn’t do 5:30 (< 30 minute swim, < 3 hr bike, < 2 hr run, + t1 and t2), but it’s good to have a stretch goal and in fact, looking at my bike and run splits, I wasn’t far off…  Anyhow to the numbers:

Place Name City Bib# Time Category Category
286 Rick YAZWINSKI  TORONTO  ON  CAN 692 05:54:41 M40-44 31/115


Cat Ovr Time /100m
Cat Ovr Time km/hr
Cat Ovr Time /Km
Tr1 Tr2
69 568 42:16 2:07 32 256 3:04:21 30.6 32 309 2:00:34 5:43 1:08:14 57:47 5:12 2:20

31 of 115 in my age group I’m happy with.  Definitely pulled my socks up on the bike (and could’ve gone harder, but not sure what that would have done to my run), and held my position on the run (which is good because I frequently lose ground on the run).

The Lead-Up

I managed to get a room in Huntsville with a fridge and microwave, unfortunately it was also on the 2nd floor of a walk-up.  Not terrible if you have a suitcase, but when you have a bike, toolbox, bike-stand, food, transition bag, clothes, and other misc stuff it makes for a lot of stair climbing/descending.  (Note to self: In future request ground floor accommodations with fridge and microwave when booking.)   That aside, the ComfortInn in Huntsville was pretty nice and accommodating.  It is right next door to the Metro, so grocery shopping was a breeze and having the fridge and ‘wave meant that my diet wouldn’t need to change at all while I was in Huntsville, which is so awesome.

I did a light run on Friday and a light ride and swim on Saturday, just to keep things moving and to let off a little pre-race steam (but not too much).  I also found myself very much “in my head” – thinking about the race, keeping my excitement in check, planning, checking, rechecking.  Unfortunately, I think that Marcio and Antoni both were kinda looking forward to hanging out and I really just needed space: I hope I didn’t offend them, but it didn’t occur to me what was going on with me on Saturday, until after the race on Sunday.  Oh well, I’m sure they get it – everyone has their own pre-race way of dealing with things.  Marcio bounces off the walls, I get quiet and contemplative 😉

Saturday night I ate dinner early, at my evening snack early, had the TV off and was just reading/surfing with the room lights off.  By 8pm, my body sensing the low light and low stimulus was telling me it could sleep, so setting my alarms for 4:30am, that’s exactly what I did.  I woke at midnight and at 2am, each time, went to the bathroom, had something to drink and ate a banana and went back to sleep.  At 4:15, when my 1st (subtle) alarm went off, I woke, had 2 cups of double-espresso, a bowl of cereal on cottage cheese, 2 bananas and a tablespoon of peanut butter.   “Nature called” and my morning ritual was complete.  All systems were go.  I loaded my bike/run liquid nutrition and an icepack into a cooler and headed over to the race site (stopping at Tim Horton’s for another coffee).

Race-Day Prep

Arriving at the Deerhurst airstrip (where parking was for those offsite) at 5:30, everything was already in full-swing: multiple shuttle busses, generator powered lights bringing near-daylight to the space, cutting through the morning haze. Magical!  Still, surprisingly, no butterflies, excitement in check, all good.  I load myself and my gear into a shuttle and soon we’re off to Deerhurst.

At Deerhurst, it’s much like every other race: music playing, announcer announcing, people helping you  find where you need to be. I make my way to my bike and start setting up my transition area.  I’d acquired one of the best rack spots the day before (beside a light stand, at the end of a row, facing the bike exit) and so I had ample space to setup my transition area.  Everything went great, I had all the gear I needed, I put my computer on my bike, stowed the fuelbottles (2 clean-bottles [which I absolutely love] each filled with 4 scoops Carbo-pro, 3 scoops EFS sport drink and 1 pack Hornet Juice [800 calories]), filled the water bottle.  Got numbered, went pee, put on my wetsuit (Note to self: need to remember body glide to make wetsuit removal easier) and headed down to the water start line arriving there just as the Elites and Pros gun sounded.  Perfect, only 30 minutes to kill until my wave starts.  2 Rocktane gels down the hatch and I’m loaded for bear!

The Race: Swim

Entering the water, I saw something interesting bobbing at the waterline.  I wish I’d had a camera, because raising my arm under it I gained the passenger of a 2″ long baby snapping turtle.  Very cute and I felt a good open for the day.  After showing him to a few people, I put him back into the water and did a few minutes of warmup swimming as the previous waves got underway.    As the wave ahead of us was sent off, I did my visualization and breathing exercises, reminding myself to swim my swim, breathe, rotate, use the full stroke, and reach with my core (thanks Doug).  I’d set my Garmin 310XT to multisport mode and in the swim setting, I’d set it to alert every 10 minutes.  I expected the swim to take 40 minutes (knowing my pace), and was hoping to push a bit to get closer to 30, but we’d see what we saw.  The final countdown 15 seconds… 10 (I start my watch)… 5…4…3…2..1 and we’re off!

I found myself near the front of the wave at the start, quite by accident, but it seemed ok!   I got bumped a few times, but generally seemed to have space to swim, wasn’t biting anyone’s toes or having anyone bash my feet.  My sighting was good and my lines straight. Buzzzt! Went my watch – 10 minutes down.  Nice.  Feeling good, feeling strong.  10 minutes later: Buzzt again.  I’m happy, I’m very near (perhaps past, not sure) the 1/2 way mark (Note to self: know where 1/2 way is on the swim so I can pace a -ve split in the future), still feeling good and strong.  Buzzt! 30 minutes down, I can see the finish, swimming feels meditative, I pickup the pace a bit. Buzzt! 40minutes: I’m literally wading through the muck trying to get to the stairs.  Couldn’t have estimated that any closer, definitely need to improve that swim split, but not at the expense of the other 2 sports.

There are people at the swim exit helping strip suits, but I run past deciding it’d be better to generate some body heat on the way to the bike and I’m used to part-stripping the suit as I run anyhow so why take the time?  The run to the bike is longish – they say 300m, I think it’s more like 500m, but it felt more like 1000m 🙂  It’s mostly uphill and some is on (now wet and muddy) grass.  At one point I nearly take a tumble, but recover and make it to the bike safely.

The Race: Bike

My T1 is pretty good, the elastics holding my shoes decided to let go early (not sure why, didn’t spend time to figure it out), which probably delayed me 30 seconds as I tried to figure out what to do.  Decision: “nothing, get the bike and go” – winning choice to be sure.  Suit off, helmet and sunglasses on, and I’m off.

The Muskoka bike course was not new to me, but it seemed to pass very quickly today.  Definitely a combination of “no wrong turns” (pre-riding I made a few course errors) and race-day adrenalin.  I’m trying to remember to get fuel in, but there never seems to be a “good time”.  Amazingly quickly we’re at the 1st town and the 1st bottle exchange (at roughly 1/3 of the way through the ride). I don’t slowdown, and don’t take on water, thinking I still have plenty in my speedfil.  This was a mistake as I ran out of water before the next bottle exchange 33km away.  (Note to self: when offered water, take it!  Dump it if you don’t end up needing it).

My pacing feels good, and the combination of the super deep aero front and disc in the back gives me amazing speed on the downhills and a rotational inertial advantage on the climbs.  (I hit a top speed of over 80km/h). I’m feeling strong, but holding back: I want to make sure I have legs for the Mother-F@#$r climb near the end and for the run.

Pulling into the 2nd bottle exchange I grab some water and dump it into my speedfil, while riding, and keep on trucking. I didn’t get enough water, and would eventually run out again, but very close to the end, so it’d matter a bit less.   I’m at roughly KM 66 of 95, and decide that soon, I’ll pull out my “secret weapon” my EFS Handgrenade (EFS liquid shot, EFS pre-race, and a tablespoon of instant espresso all mixed with water in a gel flask): yes it tastes like hell, but damn does it give you a boost 🙂

I’m still feeling great, thinking I should be taking on more nutrition, but not feeling like there’s a good time.  Over the ride I do manage to get through about 1/2 of my planned nutrition (perhaps 1100 calories), so not terrible, but I think I’d have done better on the run if I’d managed to onboard more.

The last 15% of the bike course, I know from previous rides is tough, and I’m passing people on the climbs and feeling strong. I’m joking with folks, smiling and pushing through.  At many of the worst climbs there are spectators cheering us on – it’s amazing how much this helps and I make a point of thanking them.  It’s at this point that the need to pee starts to become my world.  I don’t really want to stop and find a tree and take the 3-5 minutes hit on my time.  “WTF”, I think. “If the pros do it, so can I”.  As I start descending a nice big grade, I stop pedalling, and have the most amazing pee of my life.  Yes, I peed on my bike and it was GLORIOUS!  I now understand 😉  (Note to self: wash bike today).

Climbing the nasty Mother hill near the end (last 5km), I resort to the “hand pumping the knee method” at one point to keep my cadence up.  Hey! Whatever works right 🙂  Soon enough I’m up and over.  The rest is gravy.

As I’m running my bike into transition I hear the announcer saying that the pro winners have already finished the race (a full 1.5 hours faster than me – remember they started 30 minutes before I did), I think to myself “Holy Crap! They’re FAST!”, I’ll never be that fast, but I’ll also never be 22 again 🙂

T2 is quick. Drop the bike, grab my fuelbelt with water and EFS liquid shot, race number around the front, visor and I’m off.

The Race: Run

As expected, the 1st 1-2km of the run is a bit wonky: legs don’t really like to run after riding for 3 hrs, but soon enough I find my stride.  I have my Garmin set to alert if I hit zone4 and otherwise to be quiet.  For most of the run – it’s blissfully quiet 😉  I’m running in mid zone3 and know I can do this for hours and hours.  I decide that the water-stations are for cooling down, I have my own fuel and my own water and it’s only a 2 hr run.  This turns out to be a great plan – every 2km or so I douse myself with water: one on my head, one across my shoulders in the front and one across my shoulders in the back.  The run is challenging but not insane. Having run it before I know what to expect and feel good about my pacing.

Toward the end of the run, I’m feeling a little energy deprived, have gone through all my EFS liquid shot (Note to self: pack 2 to have known nutrition on the run – it’s not a lot of extra weight) so grab some of the Powerbar Gel from the aide stations.  This is a mistake: after I eat them I remember that powerbar gels don’t sit well with me and I start burping and farting like a some sort of wild-thing.  *sigh* oh well.

The last 7k of the run I’m being paced by a 61 year old guy, who seems to be effortlessly striding along.  His effortless stride is somehow comforting to me and I hang with him for some time before picking up the pace to finish.

Approaching Deerhurst the run path to the finish seems to take FOREVER (Note to self: eyeball the finishline so you know where it actually is before the race start). I’m sprinting, pushing as hard as I can. I’m elated, I’ve had so much fun.   What a rush!  I start laughing at myself because the thought that keeps going through my head is that I want to do it again (right now!).

Some smart person had setup a sprinkler near the finish.  I stand it it’s flow for a while then head down to the beach for a swim to bring my core temp down and “ice bath” my legs.  Good therapy that I’ve discovered at previous races and will do after every race unless there’s something stopping me from doing so.

I finished strong, I’m still smiling (the day after) and I’m surprisingly mostly pain free – a little tightness in my calves, ITBs and glutes, but nothing is sore.

General Comments: Positive

I had a great time.  The organization, volunteers, and clear experience in running this type of event shone through in every fascette of the 3 days I was in Huntsville.  My great time was, I think, shining through: I was yelling encouragement to those finishing ahead of me on the run, to those behind me as I was heading in.  On the ride, especially on the tough climbs, I’d joke with people and try to get them to smile even though it hurt.   I shared my mantra with a few folks (“The spirit of Chrissie propels me! The spirit of Chrissie propels me!“), it makes me smile whenever I think it and certainly got a few chuckles on the course.

The course is challenging, but fun and beautiful.  I was really impressed with how well the tar and chip section of the road had been swept, it wasn’t a smoothly paved road, but it was significantly better than it had been on any of my pre-rides.

General Comments: Improvement Would Be Nice

To the Race Planners/Event Co-ordinators/Race Director

I had such a great time, I’m almost reluctant to offer these suggestions.  Please understand that I had a great time and these would have just made it that little bit better for me and perhaps others:

  • On the bike course, I’d really like to see penalties handed out for drafting and center line infractions.  There are many announcements about it pre-race, but I frequently see people who are obviously drafting, which an official in plain sight, but nothing is done and they don’t seem to care.  Yea perhaps I’m whining because I try to follow the rules and they are flaunting them, but still 🙂 [I saw this one 50+ athlete who was constantly drafting, blocking and in my sight committed 2 center line infractions, at one point with oncoming traffic – I thought he was going to die!  Fate being what it is, I think I also saw him fixing a flat 2 km from the bike finish].
  • On course it’d be nice to see some fruit options: perhaps orange wedges or part-bananas on the run?
  • In the  post-race meal, more veg and gluten-free options would be nice.  I’m used to not being able to eat at buffets so this isn’t a biggie for me, but it’d be nice 😉

To the other Athletes

3 things and all related to the bike course:

  • Please, PLEASE! When you’re passing, please, give me a quick “On your left”.  It’s not hard and it could save us thousands of dollars in bike repairs and a spoiled race.
  • Also, when someone is passing you and they’re yelling “On your left”, it means 2 things: 1) heads-up, here I come and 2) (politely) get the F! out of my way.  I saw so many people riding 2 abreast, essentially blocking.  I’d get angry and start yelling at them to pass or not, but not to block.  No I’m not that competitive, but when I’m whistling down a hill at 60+ km/h and can’t get around you because you’re unable to decide if you’re passing or not it’s dangerous.
  • I know we’re all out there to have fun, but can you at least try to abide by the rules: ride right/pass left, don’t draft, don’t block, don’t cross the center line.  If you get passed, use the time to stretch where you’re falling back to stretch your back and rest your legs.  You get a slight draft advantage by being passed, so enjoy it!


Big thanks to Ironman corp and Subaru for putting on a great event.  To the town of Huntsville for being so welcoming and hospitable to us atheletes, some who travelled, literally, around the world to be there. Special thanks to Ian from for coaching me to such a solid finish in my 1st 70.3 distance event.  Ian is an amazing bike fitter and stellar coach.  If you’re in the market, talk to me for a referral.

While I’m still basking in the glory of my finish yesterday, my mind is now turning to Panama in February. My goal time for Panama is 5:30 with a stretch of 5:15, I’d really like to qualify in Panama for the 70.3 Worlds in Vegas in 2012. The course is flat and I have 6 months to train towards it – I think it’s do-able.  Hell! I know it’s doable.  Giddyup!

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