Saturday, April 18, 2015

Spring Is Here!

 Love when spring arrives. It's a definite energy booster. The weather is slowly getting warmer and the green is emerging. I am getting around Ontario of late. All driving - a little tiring but seeing a lot of country side.

 Went to Owen Sound, then Collingwood. Got a swim in Collingwood - nice new pool with little crowd. Bonus is it's near Ashanti CafĂ© - one of my fav coffee spots. Check it out when in Collingwood. From Collingwood I ended my day in Orillia. Got an 8K tempo run in on the lakefront trail that follows Lake Couchiching. On another coffee spot - if in Orillia go to Mariposa Bakery (see pic above). It's great coffee and treats - building is original from 1911, cool original wood. Next morning I left for Peterborough then home.

 On the weekend I got a 16k run - it was a Death March! I get pretty tired from work travel and my body was yelling at me. Every step was an effort. My run time was 1:38, painfully slow. Since I was so slow I took time out to take a Dork selfie. I like where I live because I can head to the Niagara Escarpment in a few kms for epic hills or 5k west for a flat rail trail (as seen above). It's the best of both worlds - lucky!

 Next day was gorgeous. It got up to 19C with moderate wind and beautiful sun. Best of all Sara and I got out on a "date". Some couples go to dinner or the movies - we use our sitter time to work out together. We got 50k in and loved being out on the bikes.

 Our ride saw very little traffic. Our subdivision is surrounded by farms and country roads. Here's Sara heading down the open road. Look how clear the sky is.

 Once back from our ride we got our Dude out for his ride. Logan enjoys riding which makes me happy. He loves to ride and talk about his computer games, dinos, etc. The sun felt awesome - love that vitamin D!

 Next up on the work front - Brockville. Brockville is a small community on the St. Lawrence River. It's beautiful. I got up early before work and got an 8k run in. I was tired from the drive the previous day and the run really shook the cobwebs out.

 I headed along the waterfront where a trail followed the river. Some cool sights like this whaler.

 This sign definitely describes my current run speed. I am dead slow! There was a time when I could run 9:00 minute miles pretty much all day. My Ironman long runs would average out that way. I've done a couple of Ironman marathons averaging under that pace following the swim and bike. Now 9:00 minute miles feel like tempo! Maybe I'm slowing as I near 50, maybe I need to run more or maybe I just need to work harder - who knows.

 Loons on the river - still some ice.

 This is how clear the water was - this anchor was about 6 feet under. I returned home and the last 2 days have been better for training. I got a good ride in against 30km winds and averaged 30.5 km/hr over 40k - pretty decent result. Yesterday I did a 16k run in 1:28.54. My goal was to get below 1:30 and definitely below 1:38 from last week's Death March. Yesterday's run was much better and I averaged 5:31 per km. It was also 22C so shorts and t-shirt was the order of the day. Hopefully I can extend the streak a little longer. That's all for now - getting ready for another ride!

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Cost of Ironman - If You're Not Fast...And My Reason for Not Chasing Hawaii Anymore

Just the other day Logan told me I need to stop doing Ironmans. He said this because I was moaning and procrastinating about getting a run in - I was tired and didn't feel like putting in the effort. He then said "Hawaii Ironman can be your last one". I'm not surprised he said this as Logan loved Hawaii. Our brief conversation got me thinking though about the cost of chasing the Hawaii Ironman. It's not cheap! The sport, in general, comes with significant costs. Sure you can go without a wetsuit, ride an inexpensive bike, and throw on some old shoes and participate but, in today's competitive world, this does not quite work out. I've raced for 30+years so I've seen the evolution. The sport has changed. It was originally grass roots and organic - the goal was the journey and learning a lot about yourself. Over time it became more popular and, today, it seems to be more elitist. It's almost brought the stereotypical type-A arseholes out of the woodwork. An example of this: Someone finds out you've done IM; they have done IM - then the line of questioning centers around what races you've done, times achieved and, if they've posted better, you will then endure the summary of how great they are. With that said, there are still a great number of people out there that have right attitude towards triathlon and the lifestyle in general - these are the people I most gravitate towards.

 I did some calculating. I have completed 10 Ironmans. My first in 1989 cost $325 - my race this year cost $800. Now currently if I were to race in the US it would cost me more due to our weak dollar. In looking back at my racing over the past 5 years (5 Ironmans) I have spent an average of $3500 per race. This breaks down as:
- entry fee
-meals and entertainment onsite
-equipment including race nutrition
So bottom line I have spent $17, 500 on racing Ironman in the last 5 years - all in US funds. And this includes me driving to these events! 
 This now brings me to the Ironman Legacy Program. The Legacy Program was designed for athletes who just aren't fast enough to qualify outright. It basically rewards those loyal to the Ironman brand by allowing entry to the Hawaii Ironman after you've completed 12 Ironmans (only WTC events). You are eligible if you've done the 12, have never done the Hawaii race, have 3 years in succession of completing an Ironman leading into your entry, and need to complete an Ironman before heading to your Hawaii race. Now some might say "work harder and qualify". Easier said than done. I'm currently in the last year of the 45-49 male age group. My race this year is in Mont Tremblant. Last year there were 8 Kona slots in my age group. The following is what I would need to do to capture 8th place (based on last year's results):
swim = 59 minutes
bike = 5:20
run = 3:33
Overall time = 10 hours
I will be aging up next year. There were 6 slots available in the 50-54 age group in 2014. The times for 6th at Tremblant are as follows:
swim = 1 hour
bike = 5:25
run = 3:35
Overall = 10:10
My best time was 11:09 and that was at my healthiest. With the injury challenges, work and family life a 10 hour Ironman is not in the cards.
I recently found out this year's Legacy Program had 225 entries. Last year there were 170. I called the WTC office and was told that, to maintain Legacy eligibility, an athlete is required to maintain their validation. In other words, instead of having 3 years of Ironman racing succession, it will now be 5-6 years. Because the program is popular there is now a waiting list - those that did not get in last year (70 of the 170 entries as there are 100 Legacy spots) are guaranteed to get in this year - that leaves 30 out of 225 to get in this year with 195 remaining on the wait list. So, based on this, there is at least 2 years to wait with the Legacy program all while maintaining a streak of an Ironman per year.
If you break the streak for any reason - injury, family crisis, lose your job - then you must begin a new round of 3 years of doing one Ironman per year. The trend for Legacy entry is going to continue to grow and so it will likely be a 3-4 year wait to get to Hawaii based on the program criteria. The following is an estimate on what it will take me to do Kona through the Legacy Program:
number of races to get a Legacy spot = 2 more
number of races to maintain eligibility = 4 (based on current outlook, may be more)
number of races once Kona spot secured = 2 (validation race plus Hawaii)
Total races plus cost not including Hawaii (7) = $21, 000
Cost of Hawaii including travel costs = ~$8, 000
Cost of equipment and support over this time = ~$3, 000 - $4, 000
Overall approximate total for me to do Hawaii through Legacy = $32, 000
My goal moving forward? Enjoy whatever racing I do and come to terms with Kona. It's not all bad. I've been to the Big Island 3 times and watched the 2012 World Championship live. I've swam, biked and run most of the course so I know what it feels like in training. I plan on going back in the next year or two for vacation.

I'm really looking forward to Mont Tremblant! I know a few people who are doing the race so that is always cool. It's a great destination and it is one I can drive to. In addition it is in Canada so no bad exchange rates. I will have fun with the training and enjoy the process.

 I will never give up on doing Ironmans. I just won't be doing them in successive years moving forward. I'd like to do some racing that falls between sprints to 70.3s, some trail running races and some adventure racing. Mostly I will stay local but also some cool destination racing would be fun.

 I will return to the Big Island whenever possible. I need to get in the other Hawaiian Islands in as well.

 Alii Drive will always be there. I may take up the Legacy pursuit somewhere down the line or maybe I won't. At this point the cost is not worth it. I want to do so many other things and travel to many destinations with the family. I also want to spend more time doing family stuff - camping, vacations that don't include racing, and get togethers with friends doing other activities like canoeing, hiking, cross country skiing, etc.
I will do Ironman in the future but it will be more bucket list - like Challenge Roth for instance.

 Yesterday was World Autism Day. I wore blue in honour of it and in honour of this great guy. Logan will be 12 this year and I want to spend a lot more time with him as he navigates the teenage years with Aspergers. I get a kick out of him and I want to be around him more. My twins are in their early 20s and are out of the house but they will still need to see their Dad occasionally and not just in text form (haha).

 More camping will definitely be on the list!!
 I want to spend more time with this chick! Sara has been ultra-supportive throughout my Ironmans. I want to reciprocate. She doesn't feel the urge to do an Ironman but I will support her fully should she decide to do so. I'd like to do more training and racing with her. With Logan getting older we will be able to train more together. We can manage shorter races and training without impacting home life a great deal - something that's unavoidable with Ironman.

 We're definitely going to go on a non-race vacation!!!

 Now that I've gotten all that off my chest let's start the PITY PARTY!!!!

Ain't that that truth!