Today, I was to go forth “once more into the fray” except in light of recent events, that’s obviously not happening any more.  No, I’m going to be on a surgery table now gets pins and screws embedded into my hand while you wait patiently in the waiting room; not exactly the kind of hardware I was hoping to add to my collection today.

Hardly the Ironman adventure we planned for the summer.

Had I actually been racing today, I had this whole pre-written letter to you as my way of acknowledging your efforts and thanking you for your ultimate role in the whole execution of today’s intended event.  In that regard, nothing much has changed and I still owe you a huge debt of gratitude so with only a few minor edits, here is that planned letter.

Dear wife (ie. ‘The Maker of Black Bean Brownies’, and ‘The Procurer of Early Morning Coffee’):

Today, as I go forth “into the fray once more” I am confident because I am not going alone.  Sure, I might be doing all the swimming, cycling and running today it wasn’t through my sole efforts that inevitably brought me to the starting line tomorrow morning.

That was the result of a team effort.

In many regards, you actually had it more challenging than I have.  Sure I endured countless hours of pounding pavement, early dips in the canal, and a never ending assortment of aches and pains but you have endured far worse.

In most cases you see me off through the front door whenever I go for a long run or bike ride, give me a kiss and wish me luck.  You remind when I leave early in the morning for a swim to be careful and have fun and the coffee is always  ready for the drive.  And then when I come home afterwards I’m usually exhausted and cranky so you allow me my quiet time to decompress and, of course, I’m hungry so you make sure there is a warm healthy meal waiting for me at some point.

Throughout it all, more often than, you also take on the insurmountable Herculean task of doing my laundry and making sure that all my toxic-smelling workout clothes – each one a festering petri dish of bacteria and contagion – are all washed, dried and ready to go for the next day’s ass-kicking.  Seriously, this Sisyphean effort alone must be about as much fun as having holes bored into your ear drum with a rusty drill bit.  Oh, and of course there hasn’t been much sexy time lately seeing as how all my bits look and feel like chewed leather after endless rubbing on a bike saddle or being slow-cooked in my running tights.  In fact, it’s probably been so long now that I likely couldn’t find your first base anymore without the use of my Garmin.

Probably worst of all, I get down on myself – a lot – especially when things don’t go exactly according to plan and I’m starting to feel like the all-haloed training schedule is stomping me into the ground like a late season gewürztraminer.  When this happens, you are always there to comfort me, hand me an ibuprofen and gently remind me that I’m only human being and sometimes as a human being I’m going to fail and that’s…*gasp*…okay.  I may not always want to hear it, but I absolutely know you’re 100% right.  And on those occasions when I started to doubt myself and lose focus on why I chose to take on this ridiculous challenge, you never  lost faith in the magic that is me even though it’s obvious that the easy answer is that either a) I’m an idiot, b) I’m an idiot, or c) all the above.

And let’s not forget how cranky I’ve been over the last few weeks.  At the best of times, I’m exhausted, mentally taxed out and, often, my taint is on fire thanks so some god awful bout of chafing in my loins from whatever it was that I last subjected myself to.   Basically, I have the disposition of a rabid hyena these days and I’m surprised you haven’t driven a stake through my heart by now.  What I’m really saying then is that I’m a real hot mess of sweaty shorts, blister pads and steroid cream, yet you still go to bed with me anyway.

There are a lot of words commonly tossed around when one is training for and competing in an Ironman:  pain, commitment, sacrifice, fear, tears, determination, courage, et al.  I’m confident that I have the fear and tears all locked up and nailed down, but you certainly have assumed the full brunt of the pain, sacrifice and commitment aspects of that equation; hands downs.  I’m not sure which is more daunting but the role you have played in this whole Iron journey is certainly no less difficult or challenging.

Furthermore, while I would have been out swimming, bike, running and otherwise kicking ass today, your day was inevitably going to be a lot less exciting.  Essentially, for the entire 12 or 13 hours that I would have been in perpetual motion out on the road you could probably have expected to see me for about 15 to 20 nanoseconds.   Realizing that this isn’t exactly the most spectator friendly sport, you came anyway and wouldn’t have complained once about how boring it is once and I realize that no matter how long that challenge would have taken or what shape I’m was in when I accomplished it, I knew you’ll be there at the end of it all cheering like a 16-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert.  And let’s not forget that what I was going to wear today would likely have made my body look like a topographical map of Utah and yet, for whatever reason, that still wouldn’t have embarrassed or detered you from cheering for me like the rock star I think am anyway.  And don’t think that for once second I wouldn’t have appreciated your efforts at becoming my personal Tenzing Norgay for the day having to cart around all my excess gear and post-race necessities.

Honey, Juan Valdez’ donkey wouldn’t have had it that hard and I appreciate you.

And of course, there were the events of one week ago (click HERE).

Of course, there was only one person to call ahead of all others – you.

So for the remainder of the day you did your best to console and comfort me.

Not that I was having any of it, mind you.

Just look at me:

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But I did appreciate the intent.

You then relegated yourself to being my chauffeur to and from the plastic surgeon, administered the drugs and just generally kept looking after my general comfort as I deal with the injury and the overall disappointment of loosing my dream (albeit temporary) of being 2x Ironman.

Did my demeanor improve any?

Of course not.

So whatever happens today, for good or for bad (Disclaimer:  it was, or likely will be bad), please realize that I love you (more than I ever say) and appreciate all that you have done that has enabled me to be here today and – hopefully – accomplish this momentous goal further (Disclaimer:  I didn’t).  With me today, besides all the “Nutella bombs“, performance formula and gummy frogs (or in my current condition: Percocets, Tylenol, surgical bandage and gauze), I was to carry your strength and support and likewise use it as fuel to keep going and reach ultimately that finish line…for both of us (Disclaimer:  ah, never mind).  And once this whole Iron madness is done I’m looking forward to pulling back, slowing down and being more present (promise) the rest of the summer.

This I absolutely promise to follow through with.

Of course, above all else, I’m also anticipating and looking forward to rocking your world on a more regular basis (Disclaimer: once the pain meds wear off that is) so brace yourself woman, as I’m about to put all this endurance training to good use once again.

Fortunately, I have lots of leftover lubricating cream and anti-inflammatories we can use.

Iron Disaster

Posted: July 4, 2017 in Injuries and Owies
Tags:

In four days’ time I was scheduled to be competing in my second full Iron distance triathlon in Hudson Valley, New York but just three short days ago this happened:

Yeah.

I was on my last training ride, a “short and easy” 100k spin with a buddy when we attempted to cross the metal bridge across the Welland Canal in Port Colborne on our way back home.  I’ve crossed this bridge several times before and I know to slow and be careful except on that this particular pass, it was slippery having rained the night before.

I was already half way across when I felt my back wheel begin to slide out from underneath me and then, suddenly, it wasn’t there at all.

Boom…crash…

And there was blood…lots of blood.

I immediately felt my Ironman dreams slipping away from me as my bike continued to slide across the metal grating.

Except that my body did not slide.

No, it hit – hard – and stuck.

It was like landing on an iron, life size cheese grater.

Fortunately, thanks to the quick reactions from my riding partner and the kindness of a few passing motorists* an ambulance was called and I was quickly on my way to the Emergency Room at the Welland Hospital to get stitches and x-rays, which showed two bone fractures to my left hand that likely absorbed the brunt of the initial impact.

While the prognosis was not good but I have remained hopeful over the past few days that everything would work out and I would somehow still be able to pull this Ironman thing off and compete.  After all, despite all the bruising and required stitches, I still seemed to have all the mobility and flexibility in the necessary parts required for swimming, biking and running.

Maybe this wasn’t over yet.

I emailed the race director to see if racing with a fiberglass cast was allowable and it was.

Okay, good.

There was still hope.

That’s something  at least, right?

But today’s visit to the plastic surgeon confirmed my worst fears in that the trauma to my left hand was severe enough that to even attempt a triathlon, much less an Iron distance one would be complete folly.

My 2017 Ironman dream is officially over.

To say I’m disappointed at this point is the understatement of the century.  After last years’ cancellation and then again this year, it seemed like the Ironman gods were not necessarily smiling on me favorably.  Now it just seems that for whatever reason they have decided to specifically target me for their wrath and it totally sucks.

They say that “everything happens for a reason”  or that “when a door closes, another window opens”  but truthfully, I’m finding it very difficult at the moment to find the positive in this whole situation.

Part of me is still thinking that maybe I’m being a bit hasty in my decision and I should quit being such a sissy, suck it up and get it done.  I mean, I’ve already come this far, right?

I’ve sacrificed.

I’ve endured.

I actually left my job in part to accomplish this goal.  Might as well just get it done and deal with the rest afterwards.

Except that what I can’t justify risking are the other commitments that I’ve also made this summer, namely riding and swimming with Hailey.  If I were to go and do something significantly more detrimental to my already uncertain condition and jeopardize those opportunities, I’d never be able to live with myself so we made the decision together as a family to pull the plug on this years’ Ironman adventure.

I’m sure my perspective on this whole thing will change in the coming days, weeks and months (hopefully towards the positive) and, maybe, I’ll even attempt this whole Iron Madness once again in the future but, for the time being – my quest to be a 2 x Ironman is on permanent hold.

*And no thanks whatsoever to the lady who slowed down, leaned out the window to look at my arm before making a face as if she had just looked directly at the Ark of the Covenant in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ and loudly proclaim “Oh my GAWD!  That’s bone!”, before simply driving off again.  Not cool, lady.

This morning I began my taper; sweet, sweet taper.

Well, technically, I suppose that my taper began with that second helping of pecan pie last night, but I digress…

However, prior to this morning this weekend was full of challenges including a full 180k Ironman simulation ride with a 60 minute brick afterwards (click HERE) and then another half marathon early yesterday morning (click HERE).  So that’s nearly 10 hours (220k) of either pedaling or running which, believe me, gives one lots of time to contemplate life and their place in it.  Well, that’s when I’m not either focused on the increasing numbness in my ass, the stiffness in my legs, the stupid crosswind, the heat and humidity (not to my well-defined cyclists burn), worrying about whether or not my Snickers bar is being reduced to a liquid puddle on my crossbar, or the developing chafing going on in places you don’t even want to hear about.

So.  Much.  Chafing.

Anyway, for a significant amount of time when I was otherwise distracted by the above, I contemplated what is going to occur in two short weeks: namely, my second full Ironman distance race which also happens to be my first triathlon in nearly two years.

Because, hey, when you make a comeback it may as well be BIG, right?

I thought about what a crazy situation this is, including the original setback last year (click HERE), and then again this year (click HERE), and then the injury to kick off 2017 (click HERE) and then, well, let’s just say the entire past two years has been one crazy rollercoaster of emotion.

And in less than two weeks the entire journey finally comes to fruition.

And even though I haven’t even toed the starting line yet (July 8th), just to get to this point I owe a metric shit ton of gratitude to a lot of people who have either supported me, guided me or just plain put up with my whiny bullshit.

First and foremost, I need to acknowledge the huge and vitally important roll my wife and partner Kelly, as well as my step-daughter Hailey has played in this entire process.  Essentially, they have allowed me to be non-present for the past 3 months in order to swim, bike and run a stupid amount of time through the week and then again on the weekends.  And there’s the feeding me, keeping my never-ending “stinkies” clean, and putting up with my (as of late) deep-rooted grouchiness.  None of what I have accomplished through this training process would have been possible without either of their support and dedication to the goal at hand.

Love you girls!

I also need to acknowledge the coach, Nicole van Beurden for not only laying out the master plan but also allowing me to grow and develop through this entire process through failing time and time again and not allowing me to become too discouraged with myself and reinforcing the positive (click HERE).  In other words, it’s not always about the “Suck it up buttercup and get ‘er done you sissy!” philosophy of long distance that many of us are no doubt conditioned to accept as part of “The Plan”.  Making the decision to go rogue and become a lone wolf in this whole “Ironman: Part 2” quest, without the immediate support and social comradery of other like-minded athletes as part of a local triathlon club, also meant that I had to endure lots and lots and lots of alone time.  So what this also inevitable meant is that Nicole also became a part-time on-call psychiatrist able to receive lots of last minute “cry baby” calls from yours truly when things either went wrong, or I was just feeling sorry for myself.

If anyone is looking for an awesome coach and mentor, look no further.

Thank you, Nicole.

And, of course, I need to acknowledge my three incredible sponsors who were both kind enough to support and believe in the little guy (figuratively only).  Jason Pizzicarola and Nadine Foerstenberg (and the whole staff) at Brimstone Brewing, Matt MacGregor at Crave Local Fresh, and Brandon George McGuire at in.cep.tion cyclery and head guru for the UnRoyal Ride Ambassadors -URRA, of which I am thrilled to be a part.  Between these three amazing local enterprises, not only have I an amazing new race suit to sport (seriously, it’s pretty bad ass:  click HERE) but a cause to race for.  They have kept me hydrated (beer is a hydrator, right?), fueled with delicious local fare, my bike tuned and ready to go and, often, just the inspiration to get out the door and train!

Basically, I am one lucky son of a bitch to have such amazing team to support me and there’s not a day that goes by when I am not grateful for these folks taking the ultimate risk on me.

Thank you.

I will not let you down.

Also,  when this whole Ironman craziness is done, I’m looking forward to continuing representing you during my planned fun group rides in and out The Sanctuary beginning in July.

Beer and pretzel bites for everybody!

(stay tuned friends)

I also want to acknowledge Dr. Kristen Burr at Legacy Health & Performance in St. Catharines, Ontario for dealing with all my ouchies and owies which are inevitably part of the Ironman process.  When cooler heads needed to prevail after I had gone and got myself all worked after consulting “Dr. Google” and come to the conclusion that immediate amputation was necessary, Dr. Burr was there to get me back on the healing path quickly and painlessly.  Sometimes, I also walk out with a good book suggestion to boot.

And then there’s Cori Dodds, and Ben McDermot and the entire amazing staff at the YMCA located at the Vale Health and Wellness Center in Port Colborne YMCA for not only being friendly and supportive, but also for allowing me some flexibility through the off-season to both train as well as keeping Hailey occupied and productive whilst I train.  I realize that I can be a right difficult SOB sometimes (Hailey too I am guessing), so I appreciate you all for not having suspended my membership by now.

There’s my friend Stephen Apps who also took on the daunting challenge this year of training and participating in this year’s Frank & Friends 10k Swim for Strong Kids with me.  They say that “misery loves company”  and when it comes to doing ridiculous amounts of laps, Steve was all aboard.

Thank you, my friend.

There’s Lucio Gismondi and the whole gang that participates early every Tuesday and Thursday morning as part of the RONA ride for pushing me hard over 40k worth of headwind and relentless pace work up and down the Niagara Parkway.  Every day I don’t get dropped is a good day and as a result I haven’t cycled this strong in, well, ever really.

It’s an honor to share the road with you beasts.

Essentially, as the old say goes:  “It takes a village to raise a child”. 

Well, so too does an Ironman triathlete and, really, my villagers are pretty fucking incredible.  Without them it is doubtful that I would have even made it this far, much less be as prepared and ready as I am.

Likewise, I am going to be doing my absolute best come July 8th in order to make sure that all your support and dedication to my Ironman journey go fully realized and, rest assured, I will acknowledging you all at some point in spirit over those long 226.1 kilometers.

I appreciate you all and I am humbled just to be representing this incredible community of people.

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Now, pass the pretzel bites.

Wil. E. Ridiculous

Posted: June 22, 2017 in In Transition
Tags: , , ,

I’m pretty fortune to live and train where I do (click HERE).  While I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as “the country”, there is certainly enough of it around.  And while it may be true that there are certain risks that one has to assume when training in a, well, let’s call it “rural” area as I do.  I have learned to deal with coywolves, dogs and dog shit, chipmunks, asshole drivers, moron pedestrians, tourists and rutting goats.

That’s pretty much the full gamut of what this area has to offer hazard-wise.

However, there is one potential danger in particular that has surfaced recently and has me a bit flummoxed by the reaction it’s been getting.

Coyotes.

No, not the coywolves as I mentioned up above – them bitches are scary – just your ordinary, average, disinterested urban coyote.

I’ve never mentioned them before as a “threat” because I just don’t see them that way.

I mean, were you ever stressed or threatened by this guy in the past:

wile-e-coyote

Hell, no!

I figured that if I ever did run into a coyote I’d just wait for it to strap on a rocket pack and roller-skates and then just stop short on a cliff edge so that he overshoots me before stalling over open air and then falling to the ground with a puff of dust.

Easy.

However, on the rare occasion I do see them they are usually heading in the opposite direction in order to avoid me – and quickly, I might add.  I guess I can strike a rather menacing image when wrapped in a Lycra cycling kit and wheezing like an asthmatic gorilla.

So I keep telling myself anyways.

Anyhow, lately with all the construction in the area lately sighting a coyote isn’t the rare thing it used to be.  Sure, we hear them almost every night prowling the fields behind our house but we never actually saw them very often as they are typically nocturnal.  Now, well, we see them a bit more often as they are no doubt becoming a bit displaced with this ever-changing environment.

Just last week, upon completing an evening run a coyote popped out of the underbrush just ahead of me and, seeing this fat, spandex-clad train wreck heading right for it – beat it off back into the bush again.

I will say, however, I’d be lying if I said that my heart didn’t skip a beat.

Regardless, beat it it did in true Michael Jackson form, so I kept going and never thought another thing about it.  After all, the coyotes have always been here and aside from their middle of the night howling, they’ve never posed me any real serious threat.

Unfortunately, all the tourists coming back into town now that the summer cottage season is upon us don’t exactly feel the same way.

Suddenly coyotes are a HUGE threat.

giphy

So much so that they have recently posted a memo, warning dog walkers about coyotes in the area as well as discussing what they should do if they encounter one.

And me being the sarcastic dick I am, find this a bit funny.

I understand that coyotes are more or less disinterested in humans but dogs on the other hand, well, add a dog to the mix and their interest could surely be piqued.  Especially given all the fluffy little frou-frou lap dogs that the tourists like to tout around on their fake-diamond studded leashes.

In that case, Fifi is essentially a harnessed appetizer prior to the evening’s regular meal.

Common sense might suggest to normal people that one probably should not walk their little mutt after dark, especially in poorly lit areas or along out-of-the-way places – but tourists are seldom normal nor do they occupy anything resembling common sense.

No, instead they issues memos about what to do when you do exactly  that and then  run into the proscribed issue.

Smart, right?

Told you I was a sarcastic dick, didn’t I?

Anyway, I’m making the correlation here that if a coyote were brazen enough to go after Fifi with its owner around in close proximity – stupid as they may be – perhaps I should heed more notice seeing as how in my running tights, I might also be mistaken for a moveable feast.  Maybe there would be some token takeaways – weak as they may be – for me to better educate and prepare myself for future encounters of the canid kind.

Among these brain nuggets are the following:

  1. Stand tall and be assertive.  Coyotes are wary of humans and your presence enough be enough to ward it off.  Maintain eye contact.  Do not turn your back on the coyote and do not run.  Running away can trigger a coyote’s prey drive and cause him or her (nice that they’re not perpetrating any gender stereotypes here) to chase you.

 

Yeah, as a runner – that helps me not.

Anyone who’s ever seen me at any significant distance into a run knows that “tall and assertive” is not my jam.  At best, I look like Frankenstein with a bad case of scoliosis lumbering through the street.  It’s all I can do to remain upright, much less assertive about it.

And running away?  Ha!

As long as I don’t fall over and freely give up my soft mushy underbelly I’d be doing well.

  1. Haze the coyote until it leaves the area.

 

Haze?

You mean like dress it in drag and make it chug a tallboy through a funnel?  I’m figuring that in doing this there is a significant risk that the coyote might enjoy this too much and never leave the area.

Just sayin’…

If what they mean to say is to make a ruckus as to deter the coyote coming any closer, believe you me, I will be emitting a full range of cries, grunts, wails, screams and screeches.   I will be a literal cacophony of despair.  I will make a racket that would have any Einstürzende Neubauten fan handing out ear plugs and it will come naturally, I assure you.

So, if anything, what did I learn?

Absolutely buckus.

However, I now definitely know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if a coyote should ever make his presence known and decide that I should represent some sort of tasty victual, I’m more or less screwed.

At best, I can scream my ass off and try to stand fully erect but, honestly…why bother?  At that point in the workout the chances are good I’ll be more content to just roll over and accept my fate as the main course at the coyote buffet.

Thankfully, the chances of any of this actually happening are slim to none so I’m not really worried about it.  Unless of course, for what forever reason, I decide to strap on a pink leash and harness and crawl around the Friendship Trail in a pair of furry underwear.

In that event though, the tourists might want to include on their next memo about what to do should they encounter me.

Tightwad Triathlete #11

Posted: May 31, 2017 in Financial, Nutrition
Tags: , ,

I have just survived my first four week block of my Ironman build and while there have definitely been some setbacks and failing points (as is part of the whole journey) I have come out the other side more or less unscathed and successful.  It was during this period that one of my biggest challenges from the past reared its ugly head once again… namely adequate fueling and nutrition.

This has always been a huge challenge for me.  Most notably (and recently), it cost me a decent outing at last years Around the Bay 30k event (click HERE) where I totally bonked and died a horrible painful death in the back 10k worth of hills.

Yup.  1 cup of cluster; 2 cups of fuck.

Never…

Again.

But, hey, sometimes you just have to chuck these experiences in the “fuck it bucket” and instead use them as a learning opportunity.

And as I am now in my big distance builds, nailing this fueling and nutrition thing down is 100% crucial.  Not just in order to accomplish the big workouts, but so that I have an absolutely sound strategy in place for my Ironman race itself that enables me to perform to my full potential.

It’s crazy how fast my morning caterpillars of “can do’s” turn into the beautiful and mysterious “fuck it fly” by the mid-point of my workout if I haven’t fueled properly.

Now, I understand all the available products on the market: gels, chews, power bars, and the like.  And while I’m not disputing the validity and effectiveness any of these products, who the hell can afford all this stuff?

Think about it.  For a 4-5 hour bike ride, I’m going to need approximately 2000-3000 calories so when you do the math by breaking down these calories into, say, GU gels which provide approximately 100 calories, that’s potentially 20-30 gels.   And at approximately $2.00 a pop, that’s potentially a $40-$60 training day.  And then there’s the long run, the time trials, the long swims, etc., over weeks and weeks of training.

Holy shit!

You practically need to be Daddy-fucking-Warbucks to afford that.  Hell, why not just fuel with Beluga caviar and crystal flutes full of Dom Perignon?

By the time I arrive at the starting line I’d inevitably be this guy:

homeless man

What I’m delicately trying to say is that I’m a cheap bastard (click HERE).

In past experimentation’s I have used dried dates (click HERE).  But even still, that’s a shitload of dried dates to be eating for the course of a long workout.  And one can only have so much fiber before one starts to run into, how do you say… really serious issues?

Note:  that fart isn’t really a fart and you might have to leave a Hoboken Squat Cobbler by the side of the road.

There has to be a better solution.

So I started looking at what exactly does my body need?  Essentially, once it starts going (assuming I’ve already had a healthy breakfast or feeding prior to heading out) it needs quick burning carbs to continually stoke the fire and keep the engines running.

If only there was somewhere you could go to find plentiful options of quick burning carbohydrate sources?

Enter Bulk Barn to the rescue.

Behold:

bulk-barn-inside-3

When it comes to choices of quick burning carbs, your local Bulk Barn is essentially the equivalent of Shangri-La, Valhalla, Nirvana, El Dorado and the Garden of Eden all packaged up in a flimsy clear plastic baggie.

It’s a literal plethora of Swedish berries, fish, jelly beans, jube jubes, wine gums, and an entire Noah’s Ark of gummy critters of all shapes and sizes.

DAH-ROOL.

Yes, yes, I hear you all crying out:  “But Terry, that’s not healthy!” 

So let me be 100% perfectly clear here:  I do not give a fig newton about “healthy” when I’m fueling for long workouts.  All I care about is that it’s convenient to access and eat, it keeps me going, and it’s tasty.

And candy just happens to check all those boxes. Unlike honey dates and chocolatey protein bars, chewy candy does not melt.  If you’ve ever had tried to pry open (and eat) a baggie of chocolaty goop that has melted over the course of a 2 hour run, you’ll understand.  At best, most chewy candy might get a bit soft but that just makes it easy to scarf down and it’s easily packaged and retrieved from little baggies which are also conveniently available at Bulk Barn.

Win.

It also has the four essential things that I basically need to keep cycling or running:  calories, sugar, carbs and sodium.  I mean, really, the idea is to rapidly bring up your blood sugar without causing GI issues (ie. digests quickly).

Candy does that!

Here’s the nutritional breakdown for a single Swedish berry:

Swedish Berry

So a small handful of, say, 7 Swedish berries would equate to 91 calories, 14 grams of sodium, and 21 grams each of carbs and sugar.  You know, that’s pretty close to what I would have spent on a single GU gel…except much cheaper, and much tastier (my opinion).  AND, I don’t have to stick to just Swedish berries either.  No, sir!  I can pre-prepare my little baggies with whatever type of candy I want meaning that every mouthful every 15-20 minutes is something to look forward to.  Variety is the spice of life after all, right?

And it works!

Well, for me anyway.

Oh, and Peter Sagan also swears by them as well.  And if it’s good enough for one of the best long distance cyclists in the world currently, then you bet your sweet bippy it’s damn good enough for me.

I feel like a rolling Willy Wonka factory on my long bike rides.

Of course, you don’t necessarily want to fully rely on candy as your fuel source, you still need “real fuel” as a nutritional base – especially during long workouts.  However, you can top off your glycogen stores with candy if you feel your energy levels dropping, or if you need a boost to keep up with powerful surges, particularly in the last hour of a three-plus hour effort.

For the purposes of getting in real fuel, I have resorted to using something else: Nutella, or as I like to call it, “Nectar of the Gods”.

As with candy, I realize that it’s not “healthy”.  A two-tablespoon (37 gram) serving of Nutella contains 200 calories including:  99 calories from 11 grams of fat (3.5g of which are saturated) 80 calories from 21 grams of sugar.   Oh, and there’s also 2 grams of protein (slow burning fuel) to boot.  Not necessarily significant, of course, but it’s worth mentioning.

However, all I really give a shit about is whether or not it keeps me going?

And to this I say:  Abso-fucking-lutely!

But how do I manage to consume Nutella while cycling/running you ask?  I mean, it’s not like I can simply bring a jar of Nutella and a soup spoon with me is it?

Well, my ingenious (if I do say so myself) solution is make these little “Nutella bombs”.

IMG_1748

Bonus marks for having a Minion.

Basically, I just heap two- tablespoons of the good shit into the corner of a plastic baggie (also conveniently found on the cheap at Bulk Barn), tie the baggie off and, BAM!, the perfect little portion of hazelnut goodness.  All I have to then do then is pull one of these “Nutella bombs” out of my bento bag or fuel belt, bite the corner out of the baggie and squeeze it like a lime wedge on dollar beer night into my piehole.

Done.

From an ordinary 750 gram jar of Nutella ($4.99 at Bulk Barn) essentially equates to approximately 20 Nutella bombs.

That’s only 24 cents a bomb.

Booyah!

Well, I did it.

Exactly 116 days ago on January 1st of this year, in lieu of not being able to run at the time I committed myself to instead focusing on a different kind of challenge, something dubbed as “The 28 Day Challenge” (click HERE and HERE).

My goals were easy enough:

  1. Improve core strength
  2. Losing some weight

I already understood how important the core was to overall performance (click HERE), but it was never a huge focus in my training; haphazard at best.  Rather I would go through short periods of keeping up with it but then it would trail off again in lieu of other more sparkly interests and obsessions.

Anyway, mission accomplished this time around.

So good in fact that I decided to keep up with it and extended the challenge to the 100 Day mark (click HERE).

However, while I gave myself a bit of flexibility here in making it a daily ritual – no exceptions – I did raise the bar once more by setting two more personal goals.

  1. Be able to hold a 5 minute plank.
  2. Perform 60 push-ups in 60 seconds.

Mission accomplished there as well.

After that, I just kind of kept up with it although I decided to not bore any of you here with the details.

For the most part, after three posts in succession I figured you’d all be:

But, rest assured, it was still a part of my regular training regimen.

And while, yes, I did allow myself some days off (a whopping 16 in total) depending on what else I had committed to that day, it’s safe to say that this has become a daily habit now.

The big question then is what exactly did I accomplish in all this time?

Well, I ran some numbers this morning and the results had me literally performing some serious mental jujitsu on myself.

Get a load of these numbers:

  • Total mat time spent: 28 hours, 48 minutes
  • Total push-up count: 7,948
  • Most push-ups in a single week: 1,171
  • Total planking count: 8 hours, 15 minutes
  • Longest plank: 6 minutes, 28 seconds

Great googly-moogly!

So here, now let me wave something really shiny in front of you monkeys.

While not directly related solely to my core routine, I am now down 11lbs.

BOO-YAH!

The real upshot though is that I feel strong…real  strong.

My running has come a long way since those initial dark days in January (click HERE), I feel absolutely powerful on the bike and already I’m laying down some impressive paces for being this early into the season, and I accomplished my “Frank & Friends 10k Swim for Strong Kids” (click HERE) rather effortlessly in a much faster time than in previous years.

Plus, I started to get back into the yoga studio as well so you can add those once-a-week workouts to the ‘ol Bonfire of Awesome I got burning (click HERE) as well.

So, yeah, I’m kickin’ it.

The real hope is that this core strength building is going to pay off in dividends come race day by allowing me to hold my form over the course of 12-13 hours of Ironman racing.  So while I still struggle from time to time with my run pacing (aerobic and anaerobic conditioning), at least my body seems to be up to the task which makes me happy given my string of injuries leading out of 2016 and into 2017.

I’m realizing now that my body at that time just wasn’t up to the task and necessarily strong enough to do what I was expecting it to do when I prematurely forced it to go into long distance mode over the winter.  So this challenge forced me to slow down and concentrate on building myself back up smartly  before carrying on with the program, which I am currently attempting to do.

So what now?

Well, what else is there to say:

Little did I know that what Jake was really referring to was one of these:

254-voodoo-floss-band-web-h1

A “Voodoo band”.

Stay with me….

Going forward, I still plan on keeping with the program and making it an everyday thing when time allows.  I would still like to continue pushing my limits with the planking, but I have also begun now to begin incorporating more “injury prevention” type of drills into it as well, specifically those I’ve been reading about in the ‘Ready to Run: Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally’ book (Dr. Kelly Starrett) that I’ve been reading.

For example, deep squatting in order to improve hip strength.

Who knew this was even a thing?

And, no, I cannot do it properly…yet.

Likewise, being able to do a pistol squat as a means of developing my ankle range of motion, or improve hip extension by holding a proper couch stretch which, believe me, at the moment is about as much fun as pouring hot lava into your shorts.  And, yes, I want to begin using a Voodoo band (or “floss”) more regularly to improve my range, restore joint mechanics, and unglue matted down or previously injured tissue.

So even though I am well into long distance mode now, my “strength building” is more aimed at “injury prevention” and maintaining the strength I have built up thus far and managing the after effects of those long workouts.

Furthermore, my post-Ironman plan at the moment (immediately after the whole consuming of many Brimstone beers and CRAVE Local Fresh dinner plates that is) is going to be solely aimed at continuing this re-building process of developing my core and body mobility so that I don’t necessarily feel like I’m starting over from scratch again come September/October and with it, the host of nagging injuries that typically return as a result.

Oh, and anything that enables me not to look like a transvestite resisting arrest would be nice too.

Just sayin’…

So if anything, this challenge has taught me to train smarter.

And so smarter I shall be.

It has become one of my habits now to set a few goals through the off-season to work towards and which, ultimately, serve as benchmarks leading up to the accomplishment of the master plan being Ironman.  One of these regular goals is the completion of the Frank & Friends 10k Swim for Strong Kids at my local YMCA.

This has been my fifth year participating in and completing this charity swim and it has become the hallmark of my off-season training program; not to mention my motivation for getting my ass out of a warm bed at 5:00am on cold winter mornings.

Here are the particulars of my 2017 swim plan to date:

  • 182,025m covered in total (2,500m more than last year)
  • That’s an average of 14,205m per week for an average of 4 hours and 33 minutes (per week)
  • Which equates to 61 hours and 34 minutes spent in the pool
  • Over 47 different workouts

That’s not too shabby if I do say so myself.

17952595_10158536214270113_3324792525232267637_nI was particularly motivated this year as I was sharing the task with a friend and past training partner Steve, whom I met back in the early days of my triathlon quest.  I don’t necessarily remember how this partnership came about but I know there was definitely a beer in hand at a Christmas party where he actually committed to do the swim with me.  How many were consumed by that point is anyone’s guess but, true to his word, Steve took up the gauntlet and launched into his own preparation for this year’s event (click HERE for a little deeper insight into Steve’s rather “unique” training plan).

Besides getting to share this experience with someone it also meant that I wouldn’t have to deal with the hardest part of long distance swimming as far as I’m concerned:

B-O-R-E-D-O-M.

Seriously, when you’re spending the better part of three hours staring at the little hairs floating on the bottom of the pool, your brain tends to liquefy and slowly drain out your ears.

Let’s just say that it becomes very tedious indeed simply watching the black line endlessly pass underneath you and there’s a reason why I use this event to build up my overall “mental toughness”.

Believe me.

Usually, the last hour or so is just me – alone – simply trying not to go crazy.  So having someone to keep me company and share in the tediousness and general pacing was a huge benefit and I couldn’t really have been luckier in who offered to join me.

In past years, my 10k swims have clocked overall times of 3:22:50 (2016), 3:11:05 (2015) and 3:11:57 (2014), and 3:16:31 (2013) respectively.

Clearly, last year was a real struggle.

This year: 3:00:40.

That’s a difference of 11 minutes and 25 seconds over my best time.

Boo-yah!

Different from past years where I went it alone, Steve and I stopped every 500m  for a sip of water and a quick glance at one another before pushing off the wall again.  All in all, each break was only 4-5 seconds each.  Over the course of three hours, we only spend 4 minutes and 59 seconds resting and refueling.  Again, this represents a huge improvement over the 10 minutes or so between longer intervals in previous years so this plan seemed to work out much better.

Likewise, since we were splitting the pacing duties out front every 1,000m we managed a better average pace of 1:49min/100m and, really, it was only in the last 2,000-3,000m or so that our pace began to fade.

Some other interesting statistics for those of you who care:

  • I covered the distance in exactly 4,302 strokes
  • For an average of 23 strokes/minute
  • Burning exactly 2,400 calories in doing so

So what now?

Well, from here I begin pulling back on the distance and begin focusing more on speed and tempo work at the 4,000m  distance given my next swim goal is directly aimed at being among the first few out of the water at Hudson Valley (click HERE).  I will also be doing the Lake Okanagan Swim with HRH on July 15th (2,000m) – but that’s more of a fun bonding thing than it is any significant challenge.

Steve, however, is going to continue with the distance with – hopefully – designs on competing in a few open water events around Ontario meaning, of course, that we can both continue to motivate and train together in the open water come next month.

Well, that and getting rid of the pull buoy.

(Sorry Steve, couldn’t resist)

Anyway, seeing as how the Frank & Friends swim has now been reassigned to November we might even be doing this same swim again sooner than anticipated so there’s always that motivation to keep going as well.