Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Why the Fall Rocks

The fall season is great because it allows time to reflect on the season that was but also what lofty goals are in store for 2018. I've been thinking a lot about Ironman of late. I'm not at the point where I would sign up for another one but I've been back and forth on if I would regret not getting the Ironmans done that would get me a Legacy spot in Hawaii. I currently sit at 10 Ironman races and I need 12 to qualify for the Legacy Program. It probably will take 13 or 14 as the program has been hugely successful. 

I am confirmed for Mont Tremblant 70.3. I was registered this year but a lingering back injury prevented me from toeing the line. In addition, my Dad was battling illness and, unfortunately, lost. I reflected on what I would look back on once my day comes and my feeling is this: I'm able to do this now and hope to for many years - it's time to use or lose it. 

 The weather has been spectacular. I've not ridden without sleeves this late into October. I know it won't last but it has eased the disappointment of the summer we had. The fall is always a time where I work on my run. I love getting to the trails and getting back to nature. I up my frequency and try to get 5 runs in per week til the new year when I will be into more regular triathlon training. I'm back on the trainer a couple of times a week when the weather is not good. I may incorporate some shorter races to test my speed here and there should I feel like it too.

Finally this time of year is great for getting together with some awesome people. Sara and I are blessed to have some fantastic friends - in fact, we see many of them as family. We definitely have lots of laughs and we also have each others backs. Equally the people I have met through triathlon have enriched our lives and I've learned so much along the way despite the fact I've been at since 1984!

I see some first time try-a-tri participants next year in this pic!! A couple of ladies came out to see a triathlon for the first time and were totally inspired. I can't wait - I know they will be hooked. 

Cheers to lofty goals and doing epic shit in 2018!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Ha-Wow-ii Ironman 2017!

That was some race!! Huge congrats to this Beast and amazing Canadian Lionel Sanders who emptied the tank to take 2nd at this year's Hawaii Ironman. This result is amazing for several reasons:
- Lionel's swim has improved to the point where he is solidly in the second pack
- because of his improved swim he doesn't have to burn as many matches to reach the lead bike train
- he was able to work with the other uberbikers like Wurf and Kienle
- he rolled into T2 in 4:14 - holy crap!
- he rolled the dice on the run and went for it - gotta love that!
- his ability to dig way deeper than most serves him well - just take a look at his face on the coverage over the last 5km and how he looked at the finish is a testament to that

Hats off to Patrick Lange as well. The comparison of running styles between Lange and Sanders is like night and day. Sanders looks like every step is a battle and Lange looks like he floats. Lange's run form is beautiful to watch. Lionel, despite not displaying an equally beautiful stride, still ran a 2:51 marathon. When Lange passed Lionel it looked like Lionel was standing still but this is more of a reflection of just how amazing a runner Lange is.

Watching those amazing performances is so inspiring and makes me want to train and work on my running. The great thing about the fall is the ability to take the time and look after weaknesses and muscle imbalances. I know I have them and I have a proper plan in place to address them. I can give the attention they deserve so that come the new year I will be good to go.

Ain't that the truth! It's funny because it's amazing what we spend on this sport. Not only that, in my household, there are two crazy people who race. To combat that I put money away starting at the end of this season's last race. This gives me plenty of time to save and it's fun to have a nest egg come spring to use when registrations are fast n' furious!


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Next Year Starts Now

I love summer. We really didn't have one this year. Second place for me goes to fall. The colours, the mild temperatures and relaxed nature before the heading to Christmas are all great. I've had a 2017 to forget - not every year goes smoothly but I accept it and move on. Injuries, career move, loss of a family member all contributed. I managed to "race" but my fitness was quite low. With all that said I'm excited for the off season and the potential to make 2018 a great year! That's the beauty of triathlon - we can hit that reset button every year.

As I head towards winter I am taking stock of all facets of my life and set goals toward them. With regards to fitness I'm going back to my plan of running more frequently. When I employed this strategy I had the best Tri season of my life and managed a nice PB in Lake Placid (11:09). My marathon in that race was 3:53 - proof that my plan worked. Back then I ran 76 of 100 days from mid December to mid March. Each of those runs lasted at least 30 minutes and the pace for the most part was relaxed. Slowtwitch.com is where I first saw this and it's goal is to build the aerobic system gradually and incorporate tempo/speed after a period of adaptation. Very basic and very sound.
I won't be employing this for the off season. I did the November thing a couple of years ago. I was so creeped out by my own appearance that I vowed I would not do it again. I will, however, donate to the cause!

 This is me in 2011 at Lake Placid. Everything came together that year and the race fell into place. I'm currently at 165lbs and I entered that race at 150lbs. My current tempo pacing reflects the extra weight I'm carrying. I don't deny myself, especially craft beer, but I can clean up my diet as well. Sara and I will meal plan and get more fruit and veggies into the mix. Sara has been telling me I don't drink enough water. I usually count my 3-4 coffees but beyond that I really don't hydrate enough. This camel is going to improve that!

 Jazzercise anyone?!

No fartlek for me just yet but I've got the fart nailed down.

 So true. I know lots of people who are genetically gifted, train hard and excel in triathlon. I also know lots who may not be so genetically gifted but put in the work day in and day out and excel on their own terms. Either way the consistency of chopping wood and carrying water daily over the weeks and months is what brings success. It may not be glamorous but it's a necessary habit. I know I've gotten away from it but the beauty of it is you can restart any time.

Love this quote. I find when I race I use people around me to push me further. I'm not necessarily trying to "beat" them - I'm simply trying to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. I also like that it implies breaking down lofty goals  into bite-sized pieces. To seek out what I can do today that will get me to the finish. 

I look forward to crossing paths with everyone in the future. Share your goals and dreams - you never know who might be able to help with them. Stay healthy and don't forget this is meant to be fun!


Friday, September 22, 2017

Out With The New, In With The Old

 2017 has been a rollercoaster so far. I went with Wordpress for my blog but there have been nothing but problems trying to do the simplest of things so I'm back to my original Blogger setup. It's much easier to handle and I will end up posting more. I've not been on top of it with Wordpress due to frustration. 

Summer, or a lack of summer, was personally preceded by a back injury that just wouldn't go away. I did everything I could to in terms of rehab but it was a stubborn issue. I did what little training my body would allow but not enough to push any sort of pace, let alone get in some racing. 

Combined with starting a new job in a new specialty meant my focus was on getting up to speed in as little time as possible. The move has been a rewarding one and I'm enjoying working in mental health. It's satisfying knowing you have a direct positive impact on patients lives.

Chasing my shadow. So back to the racing summary. I originally was signed up for Mont Tremblant 70.3 but due to the back issues I did not make the start. All was not lost though as I got to cheer on Sara and many triathlon friends. Mont Tremblant is a beautiful course - I'm signed up for 2018 so I'm looking forward to getting back there and having a go. 

I did manage to race the Niagara Sprint but the lack of fitness was clear. I was gassed going up the escarpment and took a while to recover.  I got passed a lot in the later stages of the run but had nothing in the tank. Even still, it was awesome to be out there giving it a go. I also kept my streak of doing a least one triathlon in each of the last 32 years which is nice.

Finally Sara and I were signed up for Barrelman. As we were ramping up our final build we went to the US on a road trip. Upon returning I learned my Dad was admitted to the ICU for complications due to the lung disease he had, Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). IPF is incurable and the prognosis is 2-5 years. My Dad had it about 4 years. It was a cruel irony that he contracted this disease given he played hockey all is life, did several marathons and triathlons but life is sometimes not fair and my family is certainly not unique in having to deal with tragedy. The honeycomb scarring of his lungs became too much and his ability to generate life sustaining oxygen was proving too difficult. He passed away on the Sunday of Labour Day weekend and we were able to be with in the end. Sara was amazing during this difficult time - she also enjoyed spending the mornings with him and providing support as much as possible. I have a wonderful wife.

I did talk her into doing Barrelman and she did an amazing job on a very hot day. She was on the fence about doing it but I'm so glad she did - my Dad would have wanted it that way. No question there were tears during the race and the fatigue over the previous two weeks had definitely caught up but she managed to get it done. I couldn't be more proud of her.

On a lighter note, my Dad or Gramps as he was mostly known, had a thing for wondering around in his underwear. Not sure why - he just did. Due to his love of the Red Wings we got him some boxers to spice things up. I've seen him paint, water the gardens, take out recycling, etc in his underwear. Again, not sure why but he'd always say he didn't want to get his shorts dirty. He was one of a kind. My passion for hockey and endurance sports are directly a result of this amazing role model.

So where to now. I have some ideas in mind but first I need to strengthen the system. Now that I'm in my 50s the gym will be regular stop during my training weeks to come. I'm also going to get some much needed stroke correcting. Finally I will do a slow steady build to the new year then seek out faster athletes to train with the goal of getting my ass handed to me on a weekly basis. My ego is just fine with that.

I also want to spend some quality time with my best friend. If the winter is anything like this year's then an escape southbound will be in order. Finally, congrats to everyone on the racing scene this year. There were numerous outstanding performances that were truly inspiring. I hope to be out there gettin' after it next year! 

Stay Healthy Friends - Cheers!

Monday, October 10, 2016

New Directions

Please head over to https://robskonadreamin.wordpress.com/

From here on in that will be my source for my meanderings - thanks for following!


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sadly Summer's Coming to an End

I haven't posted in a bit. It was on purpose as my race recap for Mark and Diane Trafford was the most viewed posting I've ever had. Aren't you popular my Trafford friends!! It's now August 30th and summer is coming to an end. I love summer!! I can tell now it's heading towards Fall because the sun sets earlier, evenings are cooler and people are prepping for the return of school. In the meantime we been busy - we try to pack in as much as possible in the summertime. Here's Sara and I at Two Sisters Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. If you haven't been, check it out - amazing.

 We were at Two Sisters to celebrate Coreen Neal's birthday (she brought her husband Ted which was nice - just kidding). We had a great meal with the vineyard as a backdrop.

 Sara and Logan mini-golfing. Hard to believe he'll be 13 in a couple of months. My twins Emily and Jesse just turned 23 - crazy how time flies!

 We ventured up to Bracebridge to get some racing in. Bracebridge works because we don't need someone to stay with Logan. I race the sprint on Saturday and Sara does the Olympic on Sunday. No trip up to Muskoka is complete without a stop at Webers.

 In Bracebridge we camped at Whispering Pines which is across from Santa's Village and only 4k from the race site. Here's our camp setup.

 Our favourite part of camping.

 Swim and transition in Bracebridge.

 Lethal weapon! All set up for the sprint. I got up early and did not wake anyone up - a first! I rode from camp to transition and got set up. Bracebridge is unique in that it's a time trial swim. Whatever your race number is, that's your starting position in the race. An athlete is sent off every 5 seconds. My number was 213 so I had some time to wait. It's a great setup especially for new triathletes but it is difficult to know where you are compared to your age group.

Swim - I felt a little sluggish at the start. Maybe it was setting up camp yesterday afternoon but it took a bit to get into a rhythm. Despite that my time was 15 minutes which is close to my usual time. I headed to transition and got out of my wetsuit as quickly as possible. As I was getting my bike I noticed another TCoB athlete who was racked close to the bike exit. I did not know who it was but we started the bike together and we were in the same 50-54 AG - awesome!

Bike - My clubmate was Kevin Brady. We exchanged pleasantries and literally traded position throughout the ride. Kevin would gain time on me on the uphills and I would pass on the downhill and flats. It was great because we were having fun and pushed each other. Again, Kevin and I had no idea of our positioning within the race so it was great to compete against each other. We finished the bike together with an average speed of 33kmh.

Run - Kevin started the run before me and had about 100m lead. I knew I had to push the run as Kevin is a fabulous swimmer. He gained 1:40 on me in the swim and he wasn't even wearing a wetsuit! I caught Kevin around the 2k point and worked on chipping away at his lead. We continued to encourage each other as we crossed paths at the turnaround. My Achilles held up which was nice and I was able to maintain 4:43 per km throughout the run. I crossed the line and then waited for Kevin. Kevin came in about a minute later - he bettered me by 40 seconds. Great race Kevin!!

 Kevin and I managed to get on the podium as it turns out. He came 2nd and I managed 3rd. Great result for TCoB!! Kevin also qualified and is going to the Triathlon World Champs this September in Cozumel which is hugely exciting. He's a stand up guy - I hope he does well.

 Post race Logan rented some "Crazy Bikes". Lots of fun and Logan's first experience "driving". He loved it. My legs felt a little heavy though.


 My race done, we chillaxed around the campfire. Next up was Sara's race.

 The nice thing about our campground was that the bike course went right by. I was able to capture some Sara action shots.

 Sara returning on the 40k bike with about 4k to go. Sara had a good race but, after a busy work week, she was a 4 minutes slower on this course compared to last year. She still managed 6th but was a little disappointed. Once she reflected on the crazy week she had leading in, the result was not as bad as initially thought.

 Post race fun. Canoeing and SUP. What a blast!

 Has potatoes so it must be good for you?!

 Now we're talking!!

 Next stop on our camping/professional spectating schedule? Ironman Mont Tremblant! We set up camp at Camping Domaine du Lausanne. This is the spring-fed lake in the middle of the campground. It was so clean and clear.

 Camp set up and the Le Petit Nord recreational trail. This trail runs over 200k from Montreal past Mont Tremblant - incredible. Great to ride and run on.

 We went to Tremblant to support our fellow TCoB clubmates and scout out the Ironman course. The course is legit. Great swim venue, challenging hilly bike, some hilly and some flat on the run, all contained in an amazing village that offers everything. I wish I had the pictures of the race day but I was unable to. Race day brought race that I've never seen at a race of this magnitude before. It poured and poured!! Sometimes quite hard. Sara and I were worried about our friends when it came to the bike as it was treacherous in parts. Fortunately everyone got through fine, despite some devastating crashes on course. All of our clubmates finished. The rain finally stopped in the early evening and we could get rid of our raincoats. The elements definitely played a role in the race - times were slower but, at least, the rain was not as cold as it could have been. So proud of our friends for their determination!

 Even the spectators must celebrate post race.

 Dinner in the village at Le Diable.

 Back home and everything is coming back to normal. We've have 5 camping trips this year and may be 1-2 more weekends in before Fall. Right now we are enjoying training with no plans to race the rest of the year. If we do it will be last minute. We're just enjoying being active. I wanted to get 4 races in this year and I accomplished that. My results: 7th, 4th, 4th, 3rd. I'm happy with that.


Friday, August 5, 2016

Ironman Lake Placid 2016: Tour de Trafford

Sara, Logan and I, with trailer in tow, headed down the 401 via the 407/412 combo (amazing Toronto bypass!) on our way to Lake Placid to watch the Ironman. We were pumped to cheer on our great friends Diane and Mark Trafford from Bobcaygeon (they have a golf cart).

Always great to visit the Adirondacks. Lake Placid is a beautiful place.

Check this pic out - no filter. We drove the Traffords into town (we stayed about 15k outside of Placid in Wilmington) to get a short pre-race swim in. This is Mirror Lake. The swim course lies just beyond the pier.

 Here's Mark and Diane with the Ironman plaque lakeside. This race was Mark's 9th IM and his 8th time doing Lake Placid. For Diane, it was technically number 2 after toeing the line a couple of years ago. I say "technically" because, for Diane, the race did not go as planned (through absolutely no fault of her own) and she was unable to finish. For a more detailed recap of what happened click on my race report below.

 One of the main challenges of the race is the climb from Wilmington to Lake Placid. The climb represents 1000ft of elevation over 12 miles and the athletes do it twice. It is a key feature especially on the second loop with 160k of riding complete and a marathon to contend with post climb.

Here's Sara with Whiteface Mountain in the background. Stunning! The mountain looks great too - haha!

I took this pic of the transition area literally minutes before athletes began racking their bikes at 10:00am. The oval is a perfect venue for a triathlon. The athletes at the end come in the left side and the finish line is on the right.

 The flags flying outside the arena, site of the famous US Olympic hockey victory, next to the transition.

Diane with her transition bags. Along with racking their bike the day before the race, you also have to drop off your transition bags. The Trafford kids, Tyler and Jordan, along with Jordan's girlfriend Alexis (better known as Lexi), arrived to cheer as well. I call Tyler and Jordan kids despite the fact they are grown men now - it's a habit given I've known them for 16 years now. Anyway, Lexi came up with a great idea with some red travel cups. The problem with the transition bags is, when it rains, it can leak water into the bag and bugger up your stuff. Lexi poked a hole in the bottom and fed the string through and, voila, a protective cover. I suggested she put an M-Dot on it and charge $5.00 per cup and she'd probably make some fast cash.

 Meanwhile, for those of us not racing, this was the scene. Lots of athletes were staying at the KOA. You could tell by how early it got super quiet by 10:00pm.

Of course no trip would be complete without a Dork sighting. I give you "Dork with wooden bear".

Dork in a bobsled.

Race morning. Spectacular weather for race day. It was going to be a warm one but the humidity was not too bad. Because Logan was with us, we opted to not travel into Placid for the swim. We stayed in the Wilmington area because there are a couple of good spots to see the bike course. We had a bit of time before the athletes arrived so we got a run in.

A nice pic of the Ausable river. In the top left corner is am awesome area for cliff jumping.

 Near the start of the climb to Lake Placid. Despite the cold winters the area gets, the road surfaces are great.

 Beautiful scenery.

 Although we did not see the swim, Diane posted this pic of the foggy morning. Diane reported the swim buoys were tough to make out. At first she thought her goggles were fogged up but, this time, Mother Nature was having a bit of fun.

 Coming into Upper Jay we got our first glimpse of the Trafford Duo. They were in great spirits and smiling. Here's Mark looking smooth.

 Then it was Diane's turn. She looked like a kid in a candy store, smiling and lovin it!

 Once Diane went by, we hustled back to Wilmington to see them as they began the climb to Placid.

 Here's Mark around 160k still looking good. Sara and I, on the other hand, were chowing down a Coke and some All-Dressed chips. Clearly these inspirational performances did not deter us from eating some junk food.

 Check out that smile - love it! Once Diane rolled by we quickly got into the truck and drove the reverse of the bike course to Lake Placid. We were concerned about missing Mark and Diane on the first loop of the run. We caught a break as the road leading into town was clear. As we headed in we decided to stop at the ski jumps parking lot because we figured Mark and Diane would come by shortly. We ended up missing Mark but managed to see Diane come by around 5k into her first run loop.

 Once at the base of the ski jumps, the athletes do about a 7k out and 7k back along River Road. This pic is the view as you head out of that section. I ventured out down that road with hopes of meeting up with Mark on his way back. I had a mountain bike but was not permitted to ride down the road. I was able to walk, however, so I walked about a kilometre and found some shade. While waiting Mark's arrival and cheering athletes on, Mark and Diane's oldest boy Tyler walked up. He was also trying to find Mark. I tend to try and find quieter spots away from the crowded areas to cheer because I feel this is where the athletes need the encouragement most. A simple clap and some kind words are always appreciated.

After about 30 minutes we saw Mark approaching and walking as we suspected. He told us he was having stomach issues (which has plagued him for a while now). He was unable to take any nutrition in and it was apparent he was running on low fuel. He figured he would shuffle when he could and walk if needed. The pic above is near the horse grounds with Tyler in the white sunglasses. I knew Mark would be able to get it done despite feeling crappy - he's dealt with this before and had seen it through.

 A few minutes after Mark went by is when smiling Diane came through. She found a friend in Jessi and the two were pushing each other along. Diane was still smiling and feeling good. It's amazing the contrasts in an Ironman - some are feeling great, others feeling awful. Diane would catch up to Mark a few minutes later. Diane told me they made a pact that if she were to catch Mark she would continue on and not stay with him. I know Mark would not want it any other way - he'd feel brutal about impacting Diane's race, especially given it was her first finish. It was the right call but still tough when you see your significant other hurting.

 We left the horsegrounds/ski jumps and went "downtown". We parked near Mike's Pizzaria halfway up the long uphill and waited for Diane heading out for lap 2 of the run. She cruised by with her race friend Jessi and was still moving great. It's usually at this point when the body starts to say "what the hell are you doing?!".

We did not see Diane or Mark for a while given the last time we saw them was around the 13 mile mark and the time they would cruise by again would be the 24 mile mark of the marathon. As it started to get dark Diane came into view. She was walking up the long hill, like many others, which is a smart strategy given there is still another small out and back to contend with along Mirror Lake. This long hill is quite a challenge especially at this point in the race. The good thing is that there are lots of people around. Diane got a shot of support with the all of us there going crazy!

Courtesy of Lexi - Diane just finished and is being tended to by a volunteer.

Lexi and Diane - Diane, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!! Well done, chicky! What a journey it's been. Good on you for coming back to Placid and finishing the job. You did amazing - we're all proud of you!

My phone battery died so I was unable to get more pics from Mark's run. Mark had a rough time for the remainder of the run - he had a lot of difficulty getting in nutrition and fluids. Sara rode the mountain bike out to River Road and followed him to town. He was quite dehydrated and understandably depleted. He knew he had lots of time to make it official so he kept moving forward as best as he could. For the last short out and back Tyler and I stayed with him. Once he got sight of the decline leading to the oval and the finish he was able to get a shuffle going. Tyler and I heard Mike Reilly call out his name so we knew he was good. Mark we're all proud of you for getting it done. We know it was difficult but you did it! Congrats!! The pic above really captures the day - it's such a great moment. The Traffords were successful in their Ironman journey!

So the official Trafford results for the 2016 Lake Placid Ironman are:
Diane Trafford: overall time of 14:49.01
Mark Trafford: overall time of 15:58.17
So now on to the most important business! Diane said if she managed to finish ahead of Mark he would agree to renew their wedding vows. A deal's a deal right Mark?! To promote this I'm including their original wedding picture. Diane hasn't changed much. Mark still has that Zoolander "Blue Steel" pose down. Mark - you could even bring back the stache!

 As with any Ironman journey, support is needed and welcomed. Above is Team Trafford (L-R): Diane, Tyler (son), Mark, Jordan (son), and Lexi (Jordan's sweety - a wonderful young lady).

 Diane on the way back to Bobcaygeon with another "ironman" and, of course, beer.

 Back in Bobcaygeon doing recovery right with their golf cart. Also proudly sporting her finisher's shirt.

 The happy couple, probably a couple of beers in!

Check out that view. Not a bad setting to reflect on the race and realize what an amazing accomplishment it truly was. Congrats Traffords!!