Niagra Falls Barrelman-DNF here is what happened.

Needless to say, I’m very disappointed with this race. I will try to explain what happened at Barrelman, and this has happened to me before in training.

I occasionally have a strange occurrence at the start of a swim or run interval where the physical acceleration of my chest causes my heart to start racing. Here is what it feels like. Imagine having the feeling of a hiccup, before the hiccup you have a heart rate of 80bpm, and after its 160bpm. If I try to keep training when this happens, I just don’t have the same cardiac output as I normally should. For example, this happened once as I started a 400m time trial in the pool, and I swam about 40 seconds slower than I anticipated for that time trial. While this is happening, my breathing feels disconnected and unregulated. In other words, I have to consciously think to breath, and I’m guessing about how much I should be breathing. Also, if I continue training through it, my muscles are burning as if I’m training at VO2 max, but my pace is slower than I know I can maintain at threshold, which is how I know my cardiac output is low.

When my heart starts racing like that, its stuck there and it won’t come back down until I rest completely for about 10 minutes. At that point it is still at about 160bpm, then I randomly have another “hiccup” type feeling, and its suddenly 80 bpm again. Then I can continue as if nothing happened with no symptoms. I have seen a cardiologist and have had many tests done, but everything looks normal and we haven’t been able to get any recordings while this is happening. It occurs somewhat rarely (roughly once a month), which is why its been hard to catch.

On Sunday as I dove into the water to start my swim warmup 20 minutes before the race, this same feeling happened. I got out immediately and lied down for 15 minutes. I tried to relax but my heart would not stop racing. Perhaps as the race time approached I got nervous that I wouldn’t be back to normal, which only made it worse. With 1 minute remaining before the race I was still not back to normal, so I swam out to the starting point and away we went.

I managed to stay with the lead pack on the swim, even though I knew something wasn’t right. On the bike I got confirmation that the feeling was real, I struggled to hold 250 watts (35 watts below my target) even after 1 minute of biking. I suffered badly to hang with Jordan Monnynk but managed to get off the bike with him and not far behind Alex. I started the run but struggled terribly to hold a pace that would normally be easy (maybe 4:00 to 4:15/km), so I decided to pull out in case this problem could be made worse.

I walked back to the medical tent, and 30 minutes later my heart rate was still 150-160. I got put on an EKG monitor. John Salt came to chat and see how I was doing, and while he was standing there my heart “reset” itself and instantly I was at about 80bpm once again. The medic said she technically has to recommend I go to an emergency room, but realistically I need to see I cardiologist to get this diagnosed. The heart rhythm looked normal at all times, but its not normal to have an instant change like that. She said I “cardioverted” myself, which is typically only achieved with electricity or drugs.

I hope to get this issue figured out soon, and ideally I can come up with strategies to avoid it without having it impact my training or racing.

On a side note, congrats to Alex Vanderlinden who had a great race! He certainly would have been tough to beat even if I had a great day, and I hope we can have a good battle next year!

Next up for me is a big swim and run phase to try to get some fast time trial results this fall, and I am looking forward to this change in my training.

 

Late Season Sprint Tris: MSC Toronto Island, Welland Provincial Championships, Rev3 Cedar Point

I’ve had some solid results in these three races, and found some points for improvement. All three happened to be sprints which was great for recovering quickly for the next race.

In the Toronto Island Sprint Tri, it actually ended up being a duathlon due to unsafe conditions for swimming. I felt a bit flat that day but was happy to get the win and all

2016-08-21 | 2016 MultiSport Toronto Island Triathlon (Sunday)

Finishing up the Toronto Island Sprint Tri

three splits! My team mate Adam Doxtator had a good day finishing second overall. More importantly, this result solidified an overall win in the multisport series! Two others from my team rounded out the podium, Adam in second and Billy in third.

The following weekend was Provincial Elite Champs in Welland. I knew if I wanted a chance to win the race I would have to do it on the bike, which is easier said than done in a draft legal race. I made my road setup as aero as possible with draft legal aero bars, an aero helmet, and I even removed all bottle cages and used a smaller gel flask instead.

After a disappointing swim, I came out about 30 seconds behind the main pack. Working with Jacob Jamnicky, we caught the main pack after 6km. 10km into the ride I rode off the front and headed for the lead pack of 3, but came up short by about 15 seconds. The hard ride took a toll on my legs and I had a bad first 2km of the run, but after Taylor Forbes Passed me I ran well and hung on for 3rd elite/U23 (2 athletes who finished ahead of me were juniors). I  needed to swim with the main pack to have a chance for the win, but I just missed it, maybe next year!

Rev3 Cedar Point was 2 weeks later. The Rev3 series has produced hilly courses at the Olympic distance in the previous 2 races, but this was a pancake flat sprint, quite a different dynamic! I swam okay but not great, coming out with 3 others, but we were 75

rev3-cedar-point-swim-exit

Exiting the Lake Erie water with David Hopton

seconds down on Matthew Wisthoff already! Turns out he excels in choppy water, which suited the conditions that day. Kudos to him for a great swim.

 

The flat bike course was lightning fast, but a little bit rough in sections. While avoiding the pot holes I would stop pedaling at times and I found it hard to get into a good rhythm, but I was able to ride well off of only 305 watts. I separated myself from those I swam with, but came off the bike still 30 seconds behind the leader.

Starting the run, I could see I was bringing him back.  I caught him about half way through the 5km, rested on his shoulder for about 30 seconds, then took off at a hard pace for about 1km. When I hit the turn around with

rev3-cedar-point-run-pass

Making the pass to take over the lead

500m to go I saw he had given up and the race was won!

 

I was thrilled to get my first win with the Rev3 series. Their races always bring out some solid competition and unique venues. I was very glad to see Dave Hopton (who I travelled to and from the race with) come across the line in fourth after his best performance that I have seen!

Next up is the Barrel Man tri, my first Half distance race! I can’t wait to see what I can do at this distance, and it seems fitting that I get my start at long-course with the Multisport series.

Thanks for reading!

ITU Ottawa- 2016 Canadian Elite National Championships

The field was competitive at the new venue for Elite Nationals, which seems to always be the case in ITU racing. The goal was to come out with the chase pack of swimmers. I had

ITU Ottawa 2016-swim start

Photo by Brian Laundry

missed a few hard swim sessions with an injury leading up to the race, but I was hoping for a good swim regardless!

 

I thought the swim went fairly well, I had a good start and I was always drafting on someone’s feet. Garrick Loewen passed me about 800m into the swim and I got on his feet, he is usually faster than me so I thought I was in a good spot. We ended up exiting a the second chase pack, 2 minutes behind the lead pack and 2:30 behind the lone leader. Certainly further back than I hoped, but it wasn’t for lack of trying!

ITU Ottawa 2016-swim exit

Photo by Brian Laundry

It looked promising to start the bike, we had a group of about 8 guys and time could be made up if we worked together. Unfortunately it became clear that several in our group seemed very inexperienced at group riding. We couldn’t get any momentum going, so about 15km into the ride Garrick and I left the group and rode together. When Garrick crossed the gap and we were away from the others, It was a tough realization that we would both have to work very hard to have a good bike split. It was fun to ride with a friend and team mate, and we knew from training together that I would do most of the work and Garrick would take pulls every couple of minutes.

ITU Ottawa 2016-bike end

Photo by Maddy McMillan

We got off the bike having accomplished the same time for the bike course as the lead pack.

Starting the run I could certainly feel the work done on the bike in my legs. It was about a 1:45 gap to the main pack, and I knew with a good run I could catch several guys. I set into an even pace of what ended up being 3:22/km, and I made up time on a pack of four runners with each lap. Starting the last of the four

ITU Ottawa 2016-Run

Photo by Maddy McMillan

laps I was about 35 seconds behind them.  I managed to pass 3 guys in the last 800 meters and finished 11th overall and 8th Canadian.

 

 

I was hoping for a top 10 finish so coming 11th felt a little disappointing. But I know that getting into that chase pack on the swim will allow me top 10 finishes or even top 5! I ran 6th fastest in Ottawa having biked harder than most in the race, time to hit the pool!

 

 

 

 

Gravenhurst Triathlon-Race Recap

This was my first time doing the Gravenhurst Triathlon, and it would prove to be a tough win after I ran into a trailer on the bike!

The swim start was out in the middle of the lake (like the famous Escape Alcatraz race). I was in first and thought I was swimming alone for the entire swim. My elbow didn’t feel

great during the swim so I didn’t push too hard, but I was still surprised when Andrew Bolton climbed the ladders onto the docks right beside me!

Knowing he is a strong cyclist, I ran fast through transition and went hard for the first 2km of the bike to get a lead. I didn’t want him legally drafting at 5 meters behind me. This strategy seemed to work as I got a 30 second lead early in the bike. I then settled in to a slower pace, but when I saw Andrew only about 10 seconds behind me at the 15km mark I had to pick it up. I was at 280 watts average at 15 km, and by 27km I brought it up to 304 watts. Now I had at least a 1 minute lead.

At about the 27km into the bike, I approached a slow moving car towing a trailer with its 4 way flashers on. I rode about 10 meters behind him at his speed for a few seconds until he moved over to the right side of the road to let me pass (I thought). As I accelerated to pass he turned left in front of me! I yelled loudly while braking as hard as I could but he didn’t stop turning, so I ended up running into his trailer and falling into it. He then towed me up the driveway with me yelling in the back of his trailer and my feet still clipped into my bike which was hanging half way out. He finally noticed

and came to a stop after taking me about 50 meters off of the road. While he was trying to figure out what had happened, the driver of the lead race vehicle and a nice man who saw the incident came to see if I was alright. They quickly saw that I was and we put my chain back on the front chain ring. I ended up having to put the chain on at the back and re align both of my brakes, this whole thing took about 3.5 minutes (according the the Garmin data). Andrew Bolton had of course blown past me at this point and I knew I had my work cut out for me to get the win!

The last bit of the bike went well other than a 10 second delay due to a missed turn, but

most importantly the crash didn’t result in any injuries and my body felt good.

I knew I had about a 2 minute deficit to make up on Bolton so

there was no time to waste on the run! I pushed hard right from the start and I could tell I

was moving well. I finally saw Bolton ahead after 3km, and I caught him just before the 5km mark. I never looked back and ended up with my fastest 10km ever in a tri, 32:49. I hope to improve upon this again next weekend in Ottawa. I was also happy to get the course record, here are the results.

Thanks so much to Dean who was the nice guy who came to help me when I crashed as well as to the driver of the lead race vehicle (who’s name I didn’t catch). Also thanks to the Multisport series for putting on another fun event! Lastly, thank you volunteers for helping keep us hydrated and safe out on the race course!

 

 

 

Double Race Weekend-MSC Belwood and TTF Sprint Draft Legal

MSC Belwood

I had a big weekend of racing starting with MSC Belwood on Saturday morning. Unfortunately I got a hairline fracture in my elbow the Tuesday before the race (embarrassingly this occurred while rollerblading), and I knew I would have to be careful not to make it worse. The plan was to swim as fast as I could without the elbow hurting, then see what had to be done to get the win! With last year’s MSC series runner up Alexander Vanderlinden racing, as well as the very fast ITU athlete Alexander Hinton, I had my work cut out for me.

I knew I wouldn’t have a great swim, but I was unsure if the injury would be a huge

detriment or only a minor slowdown. I ended up being able to swim at a tempo effort, coming out of the water about 45 seconds slower than I would on an average day. Not bad!

This left me 45 seconds behind Alexander Vanderlinden and about 70 seconds behind Alex Hinton.

Once I got onto the bike my legs felt fresh and ready to get to work.  I caught Hinton after about 8km. Vanderlinden was moving a bit faster as a approached him about 12km into the 32km ride. I knew I needed to put in a good surge as I passed to

ensure he couldn’t legally draft at 5 meters behind me. I passed him on a slight uphill and rode hard for about a minute (the power data shows an average of 439 watts for 1 minute), then I settled back into my rhythm. I looked back a few minutes later and Vanderlinden wasn’t with me. I ended up averaging about 304 watts from mount to dismount line with an average speed of 43.8 km/h for 30.66 km.

Getting onto the run course I knew I had at least a minute lead. I ran at a good pace for the first 4km. When I hit the turn around and saw that Vanderlinden was about a minute back, I settled into more of a tempo effort to save the legs for the race the

next day. It was satisfying to cruise in for another win in the MSC series! Here are the results, I had the fastest bike split and Hinton took the swim and run splits.

The MSC race organizers and volunteers did a great job once again! It was good to see team mates and Multisport ambassadors Billy Bostad and Ryan Power volunteering out on the run course.

TTF Sprint Draft Legal

TTF was a sprint Elite/U23/Junior draft legal race, and these races always have some talented young triathletes. There are always lots of good swimmers so I knew I couldn’t let my elbow slow me down!

I had a great start in the swim and settled into the back of the lead pack. I was battling with another athlete after about 200 meters and decided to allow him to pass. This was a tactical error as he ended up getting dropped from the pack! We got out 15-20 seconds behind the lead pack of about 8 guys, and about 55 seconds behind the lone leader Myles Zagar. Running into and through transition I knew the Junior athlete I swam with couldn’t help me bridge up to the pack, so I was on my own to catch the field ahead.

I biked very hard for the first 3-4km and caught the main pack. I hadn’t put my feet in my shoes yet when I caught them, so I took a minute to rest at the back of the pack while I got my shoes on. I saw way up the road that Myles was at least 45 seconds up, if not more. It was time to go to work! I didn’t wait my turn to pull through, I just went past the pack and started hammering. I worked with the group, taking approximately 30 second pulls at the front, then 3-4 others in the pack would pull through for 5-10 seconds each. It was good to have team mates Garrick Loewen and Dylan Pust in the pack with me. Garrick is a strong U23 athlete and took his turns at the front. Dylan was the only Junior to hang in there with us, good on him to not get dropped!

We finally caught Myles with abut 2km to go in the bike, his swim/bike combination is stellar! The last 2km was relaxed as we got ready for a foot race. Based on previous results, I had a feeling it would be close between Myles and I on the run.

Through transition I lost a few seconds on Myles. I tried desperately to close the gap, but it was gradually growing. My legs just didn’t have the strength they normally do on the run. The double race weekend finally caught up with me! He gradually ran away from me and I finished second, 32 seconds back. Even on my best day I am not sure if I could have beaten him, he is racing very well! I look forward to racing Myles again at Nationals in Ottawa. Myles’ brother Aidan finished third, about 30 seconds behind me. Here are the results, note that the bike course was probably 18-19km not 20km.

I would have loved to get the double win this past weekend, but I was happy with both results, and most of all I was glad that the injury didn’t get worse! Thanks for reading!

TTF 2016 group

Team LPC at TTF Provincial Champs!

 

13473195_158566344557373_1248097308_n

MSC Welland- My First Crack at Long Course!

After not being able to race in Woodstock, I was looking forward to my first Recharge With Milk Series race and my first triathlon in Ontario this year! This was also my first race above Olympic distance which added to the anticipation of an exciting day.

Before the race I did my warm up spin on the bike with team mate Ryan Power who had some words of wisdom regarding long course in general and the Welland course. Essentially he said not to try to battle the head wind that would be inevitable in the first 20km of the bike. This advice came in handy later.

The 2km swim went very well and the Rose City Triathlon has my favourite swim course of any race I have done! I settled in to my pace right away and Angela Quick was right beside me. She ended up drafting on my feet for the first 900 meters, then I drafted on her feet for the rest of the swim. We swam 1:20/100 meters which I am very happy with!

For the 56km bike my goal was to average 300 watts on the flat fast course. Within the first 5 minutes of the bike I immediately knew I would be a tough ride. My hips and hamstrings felt very tight which is unusual for me. I had to stand up and stretch out several times during the ride for 10-15 seconds at a time, but I managed to hold 280 watts average which was I was happy with. I just missed the fastest bike split as the veteran Nigel Gray rode 15 seconds faster than me. I need more experience on flat courses as my strength is certainly a variable course with hills, such as Rev3 Quassy where I averaged 314 watts for 40km.

Starting the run I heard the announcer Steve Fleck say that Nigel was about 1 minute behind me. This kept me honest and motivated to run well. I felt good on the 15km run. Although I ran slower than I would have liked, I was pleased given how hot it was. I had the fastest run split and crossed the line in just over 2:43.

Overall it was a good day for me and I was glad to see my team mates do well also! The Race venue is awesome for spectators who could watch the whole swim and much of the three lap run course. Thanks Multisport Canada for putting on a great race and thank you to all the volunteers!

Rainbow Cup 2016-group

Massy Rainbow Cup Tobago-More Than Just a Race

In 2015, the Massy Rainbow Cup was my biggest payday of the season and a very fun experience! But, I had unfinished business there. I finished second after being passed half way through the run, which was my worst run of the season. This year I was better prepared for the heat and more fit, and I knew I had a good chance of beating Clement Briere who beat me last year!

Myself and team mates Garrick Loewen, Bryan C

Rainbow cup 2016-bike ride

Nina Sieh, Bryan Cole, Garrick Loewen, Jackson Laundry, and David Hopton. On our longish ride 2 days out from the race.

ole, and Nina Sieh arrived in Tobago on the Wednesday before the Saturday race. Race director Jason Gooding and his family/friends helping with the event were very hospitable! They helped us get around by driving us wherever we needed to go and made us feel right at home. We enjoyed the weather and the beach as soon as we arrived, and that evening we were lucky enough to see a giant leatherback turtle!

By Saturday morning, I was definitely ready to race! The swim start wasn’t my best, and I missed the feet of team mate Garrick Loewen, but I was able to catch him after 300 meters of hard swimming. We swam the rest of the 1500 meters together (me drafting off of him). Coming out of the water I felt good! The effort wasn’t too high on the swim, Garrick didn’t push the pace knowing it would be a battle of attrition on the bike and run.

Within the first lap of the 8 lap bike course I had already passed Arboleda, the race leader and a very good swimmer from Venezuela. The course was tough, with a lot of climbing and some technical downhill sections where the corners are too sharp to pedal through. There is also a 180 degree turn around a small loop, this is probably the slowest 40km course I have ever raced on! With each lap my lead grew by about 30 seconds, and I could see that Garrick had moved into second towards the end of the bike leg. It was good to see that he was having a solid race. With so many laps it was hard to tell who was in what place, but I knew David Hopton would be in a battle for the 5th and final prize money spot.

I finished up the bike in just under 1 hour, this got me about 5 minutes ahead of Garrick. When I saw that I had a big lead, I decided not to run hard. I ran the 10km 2 lap run course at a steady to tempo effort, to save my legs for the 5km road race later that day. On the last lap I could see that Dave was in 5th, with 2 competitors about 10 seconds behind him, he was definitely in the hurt locker!

I finished in 2:00:42. The media attention at this race is pretty cool! It feels like being a celebrity for a day. Between interviews I saw Garrick come through the line in second place, third was last year’s winner Clement Briere. Unfortunately Dave couldn’t quite hang on to 5th and faded in the last few kilometers of the run. Both Garrick and Dave were seeing stars after that race, I applaud their toughness on a brutal course. Nina came through in second place and Bryan was 14th despite his brake rubbing on the bike.

Rainbow Cup 2016-Men's podium

The men’s podium

After the awards I had only a couple hours before the 5km road race! I felt pretty good and thought I had a chance at winning it. The strategy was to stay with the leaders on the first 1km (all flat), then try to run away with it in the hills. I planned this with Dave who agreed that it was a good strategy.

The plan went off without a hitch! I ran with 2 others for the first kilometer, then I really pushed hard on the hills. One guy was able to stay with me but the final climb at about 3km did him in. I extended the lead to about 100m at the 4km mark the cruised in for the win in 16:01.

Later on was the third event of the day, the post race pool party! The party is a big part of the experience at the Massy Rainbow Cup. I highly recommend this as a destination race to anyone who wants to try something challenging and different!