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2017 IRONMAN Victoria 70.3: Brandon's Race Report

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2017 IRONMAN Victoria 70.3: Brandon's Race Report

Race Report Time!!!

With my third Victoria IRONMAN 70.3 in the bag, I've got to start out by giving a shout out to all the volunteers and race organizers for another beautiful event this year. The weather was perfect, the organization was perfect - minus a mixed up with double registering me :), all handle easily and professionally however. Great job all around.

This race was an interesting one for me. It happened all pretty quick from registration to race-day was only three weeks. 

Overall, I'm happy with this race. I had realistic expectations coming in and knew this would always be a "c" level race. It was meant as prep and that is what it was.

Here is a three year look at my Victoria 70.3 Races (note 2016's swim was 1500 meters)

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Pre-Race 24hrs

I left Calgary at 07:25, arriving in Victoria at 08:10. With the initial fears of my bike not showing up, I got into my rental car and headed to the start to register and put my bike together.

It was a rough registration and warm up. My xlab strap for my water bottle ripped during bike assembly. Luckily I was able to somewhat fix it. I went for a quick warm up to make sure the bike was running smoothly and it was in perfect order - thanks Jeremy for pre-race help in tuning it up.

Next up, registration. Took longer than I thought it would given that there were two Brandon Holterman's registered. Quickly resolved. However, as I was waiting I realized that I had booked too late to get my fancy All World Athlete swim cap. Seriously? Come on Ironman, you can't keep a few extra camps around for late comers??? Kind of bush league. Nonetheless, I was registered.

At this point I realized I forgot my bento box for the bike. Kiss another $40 dollars good bye. Good thing you can buy anything at the expo. Off to a warm up swim.

This was great because I got to meet our TUSA Ambassador John for the first time. Not great, because he dusted me in the swim and it really sunk in how fucking fast this guy is. Annnnnddddddd......what would the swim be without another mishap - I ripped my wetsuit trying to get it over my massive calves, oh the pains of having beautiful calf muscles. No worries, it was still usable.

All was well, but I had enough of the venue. I was racked, warmed up and it was time to relax. 

I met Trevor and we went in for a good meal and a walk around Sidney. Then off to bed. 5 am would come very quick.

The Course

To give you a lay of the land, below is the course. The swim was moved back to Elk Lake this year - THANK YOU ORGANIZERS. The bike course isn't fast, lots of twists and turns but a gorgeous ride and the run is fantastic, dirt trails and lots and lots of tree cover.  A great race all around for anyone considering it.

The Swim

It actually feels weird to write this, but I think the swim was the strongest part of my game on this day.  Compared to previous years I was much faster and more consistent.

I got to the race start extremely early, especially for me.  This left me lots of time to get warmed up, get ready, have a good little swim and get comfortable. It is something I think I may try to do more :)

The organization this year for swim start was fantastic too. Easy to get into the right seating and group of people. I picked a perfect spot and came out exactly where I seated myself in between the 35-40 min signs. 

As for the swim, I just felt strong the whole way through. There was a little bit of zig zagging and the occasional person trying to crawl over you, but for the most part I was able to tuck myself behind someone and get a nice clean area to swim in. Drafting. It really is an amazing thing.

This might have been the first race in the water where I didn't panic about not finishing or mentally debate why the hell I was doing this. Some definite growth in that aspect.

I came out of the water feeling really good. Knew I had a good swim and was set up nice for the bike.

T1 was nothing special, I ran down to my bike, stripped off the wetsuit and got ready. Had a good time, but some indecision and hesitation cost some seconds. One of which was do I pee here or find an outhouse.

I peed in T1, don't think anyone saw, but I just couldn't hold it.

On to the bike.

The Bike

Ahhhhhhh, the bike. We all know how much I like the bike. However, this race I was just not feeling strong or comfortable on the bike. Upon reflection, the only reason is I just didn't have it that day.

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Never really got into a rhythm, never got comfortable.

I think this is partly a course thing. The course is a lot of rolling hills, lots of turns, lots of "jammed" up areas of people and a "No Passing" zone that seemed to go on forever, being stuck behind someone also not really feeling the bike. All and all it just didn't feel right. 

That being said I had a solid first half, but started to lose a little steam on the second-half - partly letting off in preparation for the run, partly just not having the conditioning for all the changing of speeds, etc etc. The conditioning was not helped with what is only describable as a WHOLE lot of cheating or breaking the rules going on. The amount of drafting and passing violations was incredible, something I've never seen in a race before. Huge groups of people, riding wheel-to-wheel, passing then dropping speed, then passing again.  In efforts to break away I definitely burnt up unnecessary energy. 

It was frustrating. It burnt up unnecessary energy. It slowed me down overall. Overall, I finished pretty strong, under 3 hours, can't really complain with that. 

I had a good, quick T2 and was off on the run, feeling really really good actually. 

The Run

The run is by far where I have the most trouble and have yet to be able to put together a consistent effort that I know I'm capable of.  That being said, I'm really happy with my run. I had no muscle issues. No cramping, no severe pain - a little hip pain in the last 2 km, but nothing debilitating.

I decided very early on that I would be happy with any time under 6 hours really. I got into a seriously good rhythm for me early on, clipping along at a good pace. Around km 9 ish, I decided to pull it back a little bit. The reason? I just didn't want to push it too hard. I knew this race wasn't my "A" race and I was just there to have fun, finish and benchmark a few things. So I pulled back and just ran km by km, taking in the aid stations. Using the porta-potties like a grown adult. It really was an enjoyable run.

On my last 100m, I was nearly taken out by a child who didn't quite understand what was going on and ran out on the course right in front of me. I recovered nicely, remaining upright and finished strong, with a smile on my face and my mind already figuring out how I was going to get to the airport on time!

The wrap

There is no better feeling then crossing the finish line. I finished the race, not in my best time, not as quickly as I would have liked to, but the fact of the matter is that I finished.

This isn't a sport that gives you anything. You get what you put into it. As I've discussed, my training hasn't been where I thought it would be at this time of the year when I set my goals. I haven't put in the hours I anticipated and honestly that's OK. But, you get what you put in and 5:43:34 is what I deserved.

I learnt a lot this race. I tried some new things that worked well and know where I need to improve.

I've got a tough next 6 weeks with Ironman Calgary 70.3 on July 23 and Ironman Canada 70.3 on July 30. It is buckle down time and I will be ready.

The journey continues.

 

 

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Goal Setting - Brandon's 2017 Goals

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Goal Setting - Brandon's 2017 Goals

With 2017 firmly underway, I have been painstakingly attempting to finalize some race and health goals this year. OK. Who am I kidding, I've been procrastinating like crazy. 

I’ve never really been a planner or, come to think of it, someone who really did the whole “goal” thing – think about it, write it down, execute, blah blah blah blah.

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Brandon's Progress Report: October Crush

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Brandon's Progress Report: October Crush

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There is only one thing to say about October: I F*%^ING CRUSHED IT I had an amazing October and it came exactly when it needed to.

I set personal bests in running, biking and swimming.

I surpassed over 1000 hard found, sweat induced, ground out KM - more than 250 total km than ever before!

I followed my schedule 90%, which is pretty damn good if you ask me.

And finally, I feel stronger and more confident than ever!

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Why the strength and confidence? Well, a few reasons actually. October not only saw huge training hours and volume increases but a few important confidence boosting workouts helped a lot:

  • I did three trainer rides of 4+ hours - my longest ever, pushed out near the full IRONMAN distance - 180km
  • After each of those rides I successfully transitioned with an hour or hour and half run - my longest brick training sessions as well.
  • My running felt great. I changed my form, I've been strengthening my glutes and core and feel good on the run
  • I performed a 3 hour run - my longest ever (on a treadmill even) and easily could have completed the remaining 12km for marathon distance.

So all and all, I couldn't be happier with October.

October by the numbers:

  • Swimming: 9.53 km
  • Cycling: 896.03 km
  • Running: 142.30 km
  • Total: 1,047.85 km
  • Training Time: 48:15 hrs
  • Total Calories Burnt: 36,489

The count down continues to IRONMAN Cozumel! Bring on November!!!

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The focus for November is consistency:

  • Sticking to my schedule and the big taper: I've been struggling a little with keeping the motivation going. I'm getting close and a little exhausted and the feeling of me being ready is actually more dangerous than not. So I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself to get it done. Tapering starts soon so I'm hoping that will help.
  • Diet - Always a focus for me and more important then ever. I'm going to continue my focus specifically on race-day nutrition, which has been going extremely well for me lately.
  • Focusing on the mental - the time has come to slow things down and focus on the mental aspects of the sport. I'm going to focus myself internally this month and try to reduce external stresses that have impacted my training in the past. Yoga, meditation and a focus on recovery will be huge this month. The mental challenge is as hard if not harder than the physical and it is time to stop neglecting it.

I feel good heading into November. I'm the strongest I've been physically and feel I can do this.

Happy Training Everyone!

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Confessions of an Amateur Triathlete: 15 Thoughts from a Six-Hour Indoor Brick Session

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Confessions of an Amateur Triathlete: 15 Thoughts from a Six-Hour Indoor Brick Session

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Triathlon training is hard. It is often discussed how triathlon challenges your physical capabilities. How much time and preparation is required. The value of patience.

Often neglected in these discussions is the way this sport pushes your psychological limits.

Whether you find yourself training or racing, at times it feels like someone has extracted your consciousness and put it through the spin cycle on your dryer.

As my training sessions have become more frequent, longer in duration and relegated to the indoors, I've noticed that one of the most significant hurdles in transferring my 70.3 experience to being successful at the 140.6 distance is going to be, you guessed it, my mental game.

It seems obvious, but it has been made abundantly clear to me that my mental game is directly related to my physical output, effort and results. When I'm in a good head space, everything seems to be going well. Cadence is good. Breathing is good. Confidence is high.

But when doubt and negativity start to creep in I start to feel pain more readily. Time slows down. Breathing speeds up. Little things seem insurmountable. The body seems to tell you you're ready to quit. I want to quit.

In an effort to shed some insights into what goes on in this little brain of mine during a long training session and hopefully illustrated what I'm talking about, I captured some of those thoughts on a piece of paper in my last training session.

This particular training session included: 5 hour indoor training session @65-75% FTP followed by a 60 min run in HR Zone 2-3. Total distance 155 km - stationary.

Here are 15 thoughts that I took for a spin on my latest ride, in no particular order and combined to shorten the list:

  1. "I can do this. My training is paying off. I'm ready." (I was 35 mins in)
  2. "I can't do this. What am I thinking? My ass hurts. My legs are getting sore. I've still got 2.5 hours left. I'm never going to finish"
  3. "I wonder what my "normal" friends are doing on Saturday afternoon? Socializing, enjoying the outdoors, napping. Here I am, sitting on my bike pedaling to nowhere"
  4. "Has time stopped? Why are the seconds ticking by so slowly. This is crazy."
  5. "I have to pee. Just ignore it. "Don't go chasing waterfalls. Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used too .... " Are you kidding me???!!!!"
  6. "If I was racing right now would I pee on my bike or stop?" (a few moments later) "I'd definitely pee on my bike"
  7. "Why are you talking out loud? No wait, are you? Yup, yup you are."
  8. "My body hates me. I hate me. Why am I doing this to myself." Really, what are you doing this for?"
  9. "Things I'd rather being doing - reading, being outside, visiting friends, playing with a dog, cooking, eating, this exact thing - OUTSIDE!"
  10. "Why does Trevor talk about poop so much? I should really talk to him about his diet, something isn't right there."
  11. "It really is hard to stay focused at 195 watts. Am I even moving? Don't be stupid, take the rest you'll appreciate it later"
  12. "My ass hurts so much. Is there really any way to make a bicycle seat comfortable over a period of 5 hours of constant sitting? (an hour later) "No, there isn't"
  13. "15 more minutes. Just kidding. 10 more minutes. Haha got you again. 20 more minutes. You fall for it every time."
  14. "FINALLY!!! Shit .... I still have to run"
  15. "Seriously, Wonder Women? What was the UN thinking? Mascot for female empowerment ...... 
  16. Bonus: "This is why you do it. You've accomplished something. You stuck it out. You finished. You committed and came through. This is the person you want to be. You're ready."

As you can imagine, these are but the start of longer internal monologues, debates, discussions, arguments .... but I'm sure you get the drift.

I believe I'm ready physically or at least nearly there, this has become a mental challenge now.

Keep grinding .....

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Can I Actually Do This?: Doubt and the Triathlete

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Can I Actually Do This?: Doubt and the Triathlete

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I've been told that I should write more personally about my training and experiences. I find this quite odd, since people that know me, know that I don't like talking about myself, sharing or really "opening up". However, I'm going to give it a shot and see what happens. So here we go ... welcome inside. Can I actually F*#%ing do this?

Lately I have been overcome with small, infrequent, but extremely overwhelming bouts of doubt. It is hard to pin down what exactly brings them on, but they exist and they are becoming louder and louder.

The latest whispers came in a recent discussion I had with some friends over my upcoming IRONMAN Cozumel event and a comment was made: "Of course you're going to finish. Right? There is no chance you won't finish" A simple, harmless comment. Meant as support. Shot through me like bullet. My response: "Well, yes, there is a chance I won't finish".

In this flash of a comment, the thoughts racing through my head were too much to comprehend or take. At this moment I thought, "well shit, is this what people think? These are people who are travelling to Mexico to see me race. Who wouldn't be there otherwise. Who were spending thousands of dollars, for me. A completely selfless act, in support of me. What if I fail? How could I let them down?"

Simultaneously, my mind raced with ways and scenarios that could see this ending in a DNF (did not finish). What if my training is inadequate? What if I bonk? What if I hurt myself? What if I panic and can't finish the swim? What if the weather is shit? Too windy and miserable? Raining? What if I overheat? What if my nutrition plan is insufficient for the climate? What if  my bike malfunctions? What if I crash? What if my knee acts up? What if ... What if...... What if..........

It all happened in a moment. Almost like a stoppage of time, where my mind took over and I tried to not let my friends see the weight, the power that such a harmless comment had on me. I smiled. Inside, I was sick. I was filled with doubt. With regret. Realizing that maybe, just maybe this wasn't about me anymore.

This is but one example. I've noticed the silent but deadly feeling creep up on me more and more lately. As race day nears, I find myself questioning what I'm doing more and more. This is no easy task. I've never even ran a marathon before! I'm I actually crazy? Have I thought this through? Am I setting myself up for ultimate failure?

It is a self perpetuating cycle that I rationally know does more harm than good. As I hit deeper and deeper cycles I notice changes in my behaviour. I eat shittier. I miss workouts - why workout when you're going to fail anyway? I get depressed.

It has become a persistent voice whose negativity echos through my thoughts when:

  • I miss a work out
  • Enjoy a couple extra beverages
  • Sleep in
  • Cut a training session short
  • Don't feel like I'm pushing it enough
  • Miss out on social events
  • Neglect my friends and family
  • Eat. Work. Train. Sleep. Repeat.
  • Fall behind my teammates training.

To date, I've never let the doubt take over - I've come close, but find the strength to snap myself out of it.

I'm the type of person who appreciates when people don't think I can do something. When I first started this triathlon experiment, the number of people telling me I couldn't do it was many; but, provided me with an immense amount of motivation to prove them wrong. If I didn't, well no one really lost.

I've learnt, or to be honest, am learning to use these feelings of doubt as fuel for the fire. I have started to embrace them. To use them as motivation. As a means to help me achieve my goal, not disable my ability to move forward.

There is no easy way to explain how to do this. I'm assuming for each individual it will be a little bit different. A few tricks I use to dispel those moments of doubt:

  • Fight back: When you're starting to question your efforts, fight back. Have an internal dialogue with your doubt. Tell yourself each and every reason those thoughts are wrong. Convince yourself you're doing all you can and you'll be alright.
  • Trust your process: You're not a professional. Don't hold yourself to that standard. Trust in your plan. Trust in your effort. Trust in your training. I'm willing to bet you've thought this through. Don't let some momentary doubts ruin all that work.
  • Rely on your support team: I'm lucky enough to have a lot of positive support around me. When I finally decide to open up about how I'm feeling, they are quickly there to pick me up and get me back on track. I've said it before and I'll say it again - NEVER under estimate the power of your support system - friends, family, spouse, coworkers, whomever.

It isn't easy. I'm not always successful. But for me, this simple conversation helped me understand that I'm more comfortable letting myself down then I am letting others down. It has become evident to me that I'm not just in this for me anymore. That people are actually rooting for me. That people want me to succeed. That people will be disappointed or let down if I don't.

It is a powerful realization. It is one I don't take lightly. It is one that has helped drive me forward with purpose where I otherwise may have faltered.

While the feelings and thoughts of doubt are natural and will likely not go away, I'm convinced I will make myself, my team and my supporters proud.

The grind continues............

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Brandon Progress Report: September

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Brandon Progress Report: September

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It is actually hard to believe that it is October all ready. As I write this, the leaves are falling off the trees in front of me and the wake-up temperature is dangerously close to below-zero. While Fall is one of my favorite times of the year, I've resigned myself to the fact that I'm officially indoor bound for the rest of my training efforts - stationary bike, treadmills and indoor pools. In my August update I mentioned that September would not be an easy month for training consistency. I was right.

However, while I had some ebs and flows I put in a solid month again, consistent with previous months. I've also made some significant improvements on this years issue that has been hampering my performance - my run. All in all, having spent a week in another country and three days sleeping in a tepee with no cell phone coverage, I'm pretty darn happy with this months efforts.

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Right in my typical range. Importantly, higher running and swimming numbers. I've also added some mobility and strength training, specifically focused on my core and knees.

September by the numbers:

  • Swimming: 8.15 km
  • Cycling: 508.93 km
  • Running: 47.48 km
  • Total: 564.56 km
  • Training Time: 27.33 hrs
  • Total Calories Burnt: 22,776

So, despite September challenges with work and life responsibilities, I managed a good month and feel pretty good. However, it is officially crunch time. The clock is ticking and it is buckle down time. October looks good so far in terms of work/life balance and travel responsibilities, but who knows what the month will bring. The count down is on to IRONMAN Cozumel!

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The focus for October is consistency:

  • Sticking to my schedule - it is time to put my schedule and training first and foremost. I'm scheduling out the next 8 weeks and going to stick too it.
  • Diet - Always a focus for me. I'm going to really focus on getting to my ideal race weight; shed a few pounds and lessen the impact on my body when I run and lighten the load on my bike when I ride. I need to shed 10-15 pounds easy, obviously not in September but by November
  • Reducing stress - the time has come to slow things down and focus on the mental aspects of the sport. I'm going to focus myself internally this month and try to reduce external stresses that have impacted my training in the past. Yoga, meditation and a focus on recovery will be huge this month. The mental challenge is as hard if not harder than the physical and it is time to stop neglecting it.

I feel good heading into October. I'm ready to buckle down and focus.

Happy Training Everyone!

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Brandon's Progress Report: August Laziness

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Brandon's Progress Report: August Laziness

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August has come and gone. Honestly, while graphically it looks like a decent month, it really wasn’t that great. Given previous months, I sadly write this overview disappointed in my efforts and output. I fell into the injury trap, got lazy and lost focus. It happens I guess. I’ve competed in a few races, knocked off a few goals for the year, but see a gigantic mountain of work ahead – Seriously, people train all year to compete in a marathon and that is just one piece of what I’m trying to pull off! It goes without saying, I’m starting to wonder what the hell I’m doing.

So I hit a little bit of a rut in August. I’d like to say I’m over it, but I’m not. A story for another post.

For now, August looked like this:

  • I biked a lot because I’m good at it, it is easy and when things get tough for some reason I revert to that which I know best.
  • I ignored running – put in some sad miles, but fell back on the fact that “I’m hurt and shouldn’t push it”.
  • I ignored swimming – well, honestly, swimming is easy to ignore and it is really hard to walk to the pool. Plus it was raining, all the time. That’s as good excuse as any, right?
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August by the numbers:

  • Swimming: 3.05 km 
  • Cycling: 618.80 km 
  • Running: 19.30 km 
  • Total: 645.78 km
  • Training Time: 26.89 hrs
  • Total Calories Burnt: 19,552

September needs to be better. It isn’t going to be easy. I’m travelling 2 of the next 3 weeks. It is going to take some serious dedication and commitment to get back on track. It all starts with the Whistler GranFondo on September 10, a work trip the next week and an international work trip the last week of September. It is doable. I just need to focus.

There is no turning back. Flights are book. Registration fees are paid. Hotels are reserved. I’ve got a huge fan club joining me, which is unexpected and incredible!!!!! This is happening. Cozumel, November 27, 2016.

  • Strength Training - 2-3 times a week. I’ve recently got a second opinion on my knee and have come to the sad realization that my strength, particularly in my glutes is …… well ……. Embarrassing! I’ve started a strength training route to correct this issue and hopefully my running issues.
  • Swimming- I'm feeling more confident in the water, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done. My focus is going to continue to be getting away from breathing every 2 strokes to every 3 strokes. This is a challenge for me and is going to take time but I believe will pay huge dividends. I'm also going to focus on spending longer and longer periods in the pool, as shit just got real, 3.8 km is the new target.
  • Running – well I just need to run. I’ve never ran more than 21km and well I’m going to need to. The good thing about travelling is running is pretty easy to accomplish.
  • Diet- Always a focus for me. I'm going to really focus on getting to my ideal race weight; shed a few pounds and lessen the impact on my body when I run and lighten the load on my bike when I ride. I need to shed 10-15 pounds easy, obviously not in September but by November

Happy Training Everyone!

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Brandon's Progress Report: July Showers

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Brandon's Progress Report: July Showers

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Another month closer to my goal and I can't stop but think of how quickly time is flying by.  The challenges and hurdles mount, as do the success. July was a particularly interesting month. A lot was going on, the weather was insane, and I successfully completed my second 70.3 this year. As I write this, the rains are pouring down again on downtown Calgary. A quick recap of July:

  • It rained or thunder stormed everyday in Calgary - most notably however not on my race day! (it didn't actually, but it sure felt like it)
  • 10-days of distraction thanks to Calgary Stampede
  • I continued rehab on my leg (unsuccessfully to-date)
  • I moved
  • I changed jobs
  • I completed the Calgary 70.3 IRONMAN on July 24th

Despite all this, I still had a very successful July - topping many if not all of my numbers from June. I'm also quite happy to have finished my second 70.3 this year and in as many months; a first for me in my young triathlon career.

July by the numbers:

  • Swimming: 7.88 km 
  • Cycling: 672.54 km 
  • Running: 30.13 km 
  • Total: 710.73 km
  • Training Time: 32.5 hrs
  • Total Calories Burnt: 19,952

All and all, a good outing this month. I clocked the most KM's I've ever done in a month on my bike. This is largely due to the running injury I was nursing. The logic being, if I can't run, get my ass out on the bike to keep up my conditioning. It definitely paid off, as I also logged my fastest 40km on the bike and put down a very respectable 2:27:31 at Calgary 70.3 (also my fastest 90km).

On the running front, wellllllllll..........the IT Band injury continued to bug me all month and despite a concentrated effort at rehabilitating it, it reared its ugly head during Calgary 70.3. I have had a successful run in August and rehab continues. I'm hoping August will bring a much larger blue bar. Fingers crossed. Just kidding, I'm working really hard to make that happen, I doubt crossing my fingers will do shit.

Swimming was pretty consistent. I worked hard on the three-stroke breathing and I'm getting better and faster. I clocked my fastest race time swim in July and more importantly didn't have my "freak" out moment in the water that I have experienced at my previous two events. I'm taking a more systematic approach to my swimming and feel really good.

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August is shaping up to be a good month. I'm focused and ready to get back to training after a few slack days following my last race. I've got a few priorities to work on and I'm expecting a big month this month. Ironman Cozumel is a mere 4 months away and the Whistler GranFondo is in the middle of September to break up the training schedule.

Honestly, things are feeling really good. I know there is a lot of work ahead but I feel I'm getting stronger everyday and learning a lot. I've got a huge supporting cast that is amazing and preparations are being made for them to join me in Cozumel in November. I couldn't be more excited and I will not let them down or myself.

The Grind continues!

As I look forward my priorities will be:

  • Strength Training - 2-3 times a week. I have neglected strength training because I found it just too demanding on my schedule. This has been a major oversight and something I am going to correct. Focus will be core, lower body and shoulders. I believe that has contributed to my running injury and will look to correct over the next little while.
  • Swimming - I'm feeling more confident in the water, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done. My focus is going to continue to be getting away from breathing every 2 strokes to every 3 strokes. This is a challenge for me and is going to take time but I believe will pay huge dividends. I'm also going to focus on spending longer and longer periods in the pool, as shit just got real, 3.8 km is the new target.
  • Diet - Always a focus for me. I'm going to really focus on getting to my ideal race weight; shed a few pounds and lessen the impact on my body when I run and lighten the load on my bike when I ride.

Happy Training Everyone!

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IRONMAN 70.3 Calgary: Brandon's Race Report

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IRONMAN 70.3 Calgary: Brandon's Race Report

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It has been a week since IRONMAN 70.3 Calgary and a busy one for me. I've moved, I'm starting a new job Tuesday and I've been recovering from a couple injuries that have left this week pretty lacklustre in terms of training, and well, blogging as well. Nonetheless, here I stand and below is my race report. Overvall

This is a great course. The Calgary team did a fantastic job and should be proud of this event.  It is well thought out, beautiful, and fast. A race I will definitely consider doing again. Huge cudos to the race organizers and all the volunteers.

This is also the first race that my mom got to see. I have often droned on and on about the importance of a cheering section and this event is no different. I was extremely happy to have my mom and large group of friends cheering me on. You learn to respect and cherish their presence and support when you're struggling yourself. Thank you everyone!

Now, the race. I have mixed emotions about my performance this last race.

On the one hand I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed in my overall time. I'm disappointed particularly in my run time. I'm disappointed in my body letting me down.

On the other hand, I'm extremely proud of my efforts. I overcame some serious pain in my run and finished with a still very respectable time. My mental stamina and strength was tested consistently during the race and I overcame it. I put in one of the best swim times I've ever done and my bike time improved, also clocking one of my best times.

Overall, I'm happy with the race. I think it was an important step in my continued grind. I put some mixed numbers up and am proud of my output and perseverance. I finished in the Top 25 of my Division, something I'm pretty happy with.

Stage

Victoria 70.3 2016

Calgary 70.3 2016

Swim

 31:55 (2:15 min/100m)

38:54 (2:00 min/100m)

Transition 1

5:58

4:55

Bike

2:32:26 (34.6 km/hr)

2:27:31 (36.66 km/hr)

Transition 2

 3:15

4:03

Run

 2:00:32 (5:42 min/km)

2:16:39 (6:31 min/km)

Finish

 5:14:06

5:32:02

Race Morning

Race morning did not start off strong. At 2 AM I woke up with some severe pain in my shoulders, particularly the right one. It was a feeling I've never had before. It came out of no where and it hurt like hell. It is the tightest I've ever felt in any part of body and it sucked. I reluctantly put some heat on them in an attempt to ease the pain and tried to go back to sleep.

The next 2.5 hours provided little sleep and I stumbled out of bed at 4:15 in serious pain to stuff my scheduled food in my mouth. I packed my bag, had a steaming hot shower, and stretched myself out as much as I could. It got to a point where I was feeling loose enough to power through.

I arrived at the course at 6:00 AM. Plenty of time to set up my bike and get a warm-up swim in. I struggled to put on my wet suit, got my transition ready and went for a quick warm up. This is the first race where I got a true warm up in the water before and let me tell you, it made things so much better. I was able to get my swimming nerves out of the way (something typically done after race start) and test out the tight arms and shoulder. It didn't feel good, but I told myself I could do this.

After a quick little chat with my cheering section, I was ready to hit the water and go.

The Swim

Screenshot (58)
Screenshot (58)

The swim went really well. I felt strong the whole time and I found the course quite easy to navigate, despite some turns and navigating around the lake walls. The water was cool, clean, and didn't feel crowded thanks to some wide "lanes".

At the start of the race I took my chosen approach and stayed to the outside of the course. This turned into a little challenge when the water became very shallow that my hands started scrapping the bottom of the lake. A group of swimmers even got up and started walking until the shore dropped off enough. Once I passed this little shallow section it was clear swimming.

It took about 750 meters before the adrenaline settled down and I started to feel the pain in my should. It wasn't debilitating but it was noticeable and led me to do a little more breast stroke, which seemed to reduce the discomfort, then I would have liked.

I got out of the water to my cheering section feeling extremely good. I looked at my watch and was happy with my time. I strolled off to the transition and got onto my bike. YAY!!!! MY BIKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Bike

We all know I love the bike. To boot, I love the bike course in Calgary. Rolling hills, mountains, speedy downhill to close end the course. FANTASTIC!!!!!

The bike started out great. I was clicking along at a good pace, pulling away from a few clumps of riders and settling into a good pace and cadence.

The hills on the way to Bragg Creek took a little out of my me and I found it a little hard to really push it. I attribute it to the restless night, but who knows. I was a little slower on the front half of the course, but I turned the corner to Bragg Creek and put the pedal down. I knew the Bragg Creek section well and knew I could close out strong on Highway 8 back to Calgary.

Screenshot (60)
Screenshot (60)

Highway 8 got a little dicey at times. The shoulder, while sizable, has a huge rumble strip that makes passing annoying and puts the rider into traffic. At times I found myself slowing down to avoid drafting penalties, but to be honest there was a good bit of drafting happening. It had to happen from a safety perspective, but did lead to some slower speeds than had the road been open. Regardless, I put down a respectable 44 km/hr on the second half.

The end of the bike was a bit of a shit show. The course was a straight shot to T2, down a hill. Riders were easily travelling in the 40-50 km/hr range. I entered into the final stretch in a group of about 5 other riders. For some unknown reason, the volunteer directed the 5 of us, and from what I understand just the 5 of us, to turn and make a loop around the block. This cost about 2-3 minutes of extra time and left us very confused. The volunteers got us back into the straight away but it led to some serious confusion getting off the bike - to the point where a volunteer made me carry my bike back across behind the line because I got off on the line. It was chaotic, confusing, frustrating and cost some serious time in both the bike and the transition.

Despite the mix up, I finished with a shocking Top 10 bike split in my division, something I'm very happy with and pleased with my performance. My effort on the bike is paying off with good dividends.

The Run

The moment had come to test my leg. I had not run in 17 days, as I was resting and rehabilitating an injured IT Band. I was nervous to say the least. After the confusion of the bike to run transition, it took me a little longer than I would have liked to collect myself and get on with the run. Luckily, I got a nice little boost from the cheering section and got on with my run.

The run started off alright. The legs didn't feel heavy from the bike and I was going along at a decent 5:00 min/km pace. I felt like maybe, just maybe I would only have to contend with the increasing heat of the late morning and early afternoon. Then I hit the 3km mark and things started to go wrong. I started to feel my IT Band rub on my knee. By the 5 km mark I was ready to call it quits. The next 16km would be the most painful I've ever experienced and would test my mental resolved to the fullest.

As I passed my cheering section all I could say was, "This is going to take awhile". I wasn't happy and they didn't look it either. At least the beer gardens would open for them soon.

Screenshot (59)
Screenshot (59)

With each km the pain increased in my knee. It was a constant struggle, with each step bringing more and more discomfort. Each KM more and more painful than the next. It is hard to describe what goes through ones mind at this point of the event. The mind games take over and the race becomes much more than a display of physical ability.

I wanted to quit so very very much. I tried everything:

  • I tried powering through and running at race pace; telling myself it was all in my mind. It wasn't. It was really.
  • I tried speed walking. Nope not my thing.
  • I tried walking. I didn't have that much time.
  • I told myself I could quit. After some internal debate, I was going to finish. No matter what.

So I ran. I walked. I ran. I walked. I took it kilometer by kilometer. I tried to think about anything and everything but the pain. About how satisfying crossing the finish line would be ................. Eventually. For all you data and graph wonks our there, ever wonder what the pace data looks like for that type of running strategy? Well it isn't pretty ......

Screenshot (62)
Screenshot (62)

I finally made it to the 20km flag and for the first time in the last 2 hrs, started to believe myself that I could make it. I crossed the finish line unhappy and in pain. I didn't hear or see my friends and family cheering me on. I was zoned out, overcome with pain, and just wanted to finish the damn race. I crossed the line to a huge sigh of relief.

I was done. In every sense of the word.

The wrap

Immediately after the race I was not happy. I was overcome with a rush of disappointment. I knew I was better than the time I posted. I knew it.

I've had some time to reflect on the race and those initial feelings of disappointment have subsided. I'm extremely proud of what I had to overcome to finish the race. I pushed through the pain and persevered. More importantly, I found something inside of me that has been buried deep for a long time. The power to push through. To not give up when things get tough. To persevere and get it done.

I felt both strong and weak at times during this race. I learnt a lot about myself and what I'm capable of.  I know I can break the 5 hour barrier. I will break the 5 hour barrier. I'm motivated more than ever and I know what and where I need to improve.

I've take some time to recoup this week and am ready to get back on the horse in preparation for IRONMAN Cozumel.

The grind continues.

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