Month: May 2014

Welland Race Prep: Domination Mode

Pop quiz!  What triathlon happens in three weeks, recently got a brand new shiny name and will be not only my first triathlon this year, but my first half-iron distance EVER?   If you said Welland Rose City Triathlon, you get a cookie! But it has to be a healthy one – that race weight isn’t gonna make itself.

You might be thinking I’m a little crazy to be going all domination mode (is there any other mode?) on my first half.  I’m not going to deny the crazy part, but with so much Ironman training under my belt 1900m + 90km + 21.1km feels so totally doable that it might even be about something other than survival.  Don’t get me wrong, domination mode takes some major work. I’m going to share some of the ways I’m preparing specifically for the conditions of this race, and fortunately I’ve got some race-specific tips from an expert: Tommy Ferris from Ignition Fitness puts together these handy videos for Multisport Canada Races.

I know you’ve probably seen these videos before (I have) and thought, “oh yeah, I should watch that,” and then didn’t because you saw a funny cat picture.  Focus!  The cat pictures can wait until you’re in the midst of the taper-crazies and need some real distraction.


Swim Preparation

The canal swim is a narrow rectangle that has portions both with and against the current, which makes it difficult (and probably a bad idea) to maintain a certain pace throughout. Since I’m a numbers girl, and also recently acquired a 910XT that actually allows me to see my splits in the water, I’m going to have to be very careful to avoid getting too caught up in pace times that would push me too hard at the beginning, raise my expectations in the middle and dash them perilously to the ground in the final stretch against the current. (Can you say “bad way to start the bike”?)

Mental preparation is key for this kind of swim, because you have to be prepared to see slow pace times without freaking out early on – not that I would EVER freak out about slow pace times, right workout buddies?? :)

Learning to pace by feel is also one of the key skills in this swim; in the next few weeks I’ll be doing a couple of swim workouts designed to get a feel for my goal race pace of 1:55/100m (note that these are not designed to work on fitness – they’re a mental workout as much as physical).  A great way to get a feel for pacing is to pick a distance (100, 200, 400) and repeat it over and over and over until you get tired/close to the race distance of 1900m.  Maybe make that 2k because round numbers looks so much nicer, and we all know none of us will swim straight anyway.  Time the intervals but don’t check the clock until you’re done, and focus on trying to hit the same pace every time.  I’ll be doing something like 4×400 or 15×100 because I think 200m is a silly distance (for no reason in particular – it’s not as bad as 75m, but still…just a weird place to stop in my opinion).

Bike Preparation

Coming from a self-proclaimed hills girl, a flat bike course is TOUGH! It also has the potential to be windy, which is basically my arch-nemesis on the bike.  You know how I like doing difficult stuff?  Well don’t tell me, “Oh, Welland is easy because it’s so flat!” because dammit, flat IS difficult!

That being said, it’s also a good way to PB the bike.  As much as I love hills, I do have to admit that they generally have a negative effect on time.  The biggest focus of this bike will be setting up for a good run, which means getting in lots of nutrition and maintaining a high cadence so there is some energy left in those legs after 90km.  Practice that nutrition strategy ahead of time, particularly at race pace! Try adding 3×20 minutes at half Ironman race pace, and figure out what you can handle.  I recently did this calculation for one of my long rides as an experiment, and it worked because it got me closer to understanding my nutritional needs and what I can handle.


Run Preparation

Two words: heat training!  Last year’s race was unbearably hot and while there’s no guarantee this year will be the same, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. It doesn’t take much – one or two runs a week at noon is usually enough to get me acclimatized – but you have to start now because it takes time for the physiological adaptations!  For example, today’s long run accidentally doubled as a heat training run, mostly (okay, completely) because I slept in way later than usual and stubbornly refused to get off the couch until late morning.  We all have days like this.

Usually I schedule one run a week at lunchtime from about March until September. Yes, it sucks when it’s 42 degrees out and you’re getting weird looks as you suffer through the slowest 5k you’ve ever run, but when you finish a race in 35 degrees thinking, “oh yeah, I guess that was a little warm,” you’ll thank me.  You’re welcome.




Bike Workout: 5-Minute Intervals

These short intervals switch between a baseline intensity and increasingly shorter and more intense intervals, returning to baseline intensity between hard intervals. The profile of each set should look like the following: 20140522-120132-43292611.jpg

I teach this workout using three different drills:

  • Sitting/standing at 80rpm
  • Hills with increasing resistance
  • High cadence, between 95 and 110rpm

Each set consists of 4.5 minutes of intervals and a 30 second rest before starting the next set.  Teach 3x through each set (sit/stand, hills, sprint) for a 45 minute class, or 4 times for an hour class.


Sit/Stand Set:

Moderate resistance, adding on standing intervals; maintain 80rpm throughout.

60 seconds seated, 60 seconds standing
45 seconds seated, 45 seconds standing
30 seconds seated, 30 seconds standing


Hill Set:

Moderate to high resistance on baseline intervals, adding progressively larger amounts on hard intervals; maintain 65-70rpm throughout.

60 seconds at 80%, 60 seconds at 85%
45 seconds at 80%, 45 seconds at 90%
30 seconds at 80%, 30 seconds at 95% (all out)


High Cadence Set:

Maintain enough resistance to prevent spinning out or bouncing in the saddle, try to keep the resistance up on fast intervals.

60 seconds at 95rpm, 60 seconds at 100rpm
45 seconds at 95rpm, 45 seconds at 105rpm
30 seconds at 95rpm, 30 seconds at 110rpm


Music: I’m a big fan of the Steady130 Spin/Cycle mixes for time-based workouts.

Sporting Life 10k Race Report

I think this race gets filed under the “I forgot I’m doing an Ironman” category of race entries.  In February, March and even April it was easy to keep thinking that I had lots of time before my long course races – Welland, Ironman Canada, Barrelman – that is, until I realized that Welland Rose City Tri is on June 15th, which is NEXT MONTH. Exactly 5 weeks, which is considerably less than the “lots of time” I thought I had.

I pretty much signed up for this race because I wanted to buy an Icebreaker merino shirt, and I got a $35 gift card with my $40 race entry. That was about 87% of the reason, the other 13% being that I really love racing.  Like, really, really love it.

That being said, I did pretty much everything wrong in training:

#1: I haven’t done any speed training since last October unless you count a track meet, a half marathon, or a 3x1200m that I did sometime in March.

#2: I’m only doing two decent runs a week: hills on Tuesday and long on Sunday, with some scattered recovery (read: mind-numbingly slow) and brick (read: mind-numbingly slow and uncomfortable) runs. Did I mention that I walk-run my long runs? I don’t know what fast is anymore.

#3:  I spent over 9 hours training in the week leading up to the race, including 5 spin classes from Wednesday to Saturday.  I went a little too hard on my Thursday class, because apparently I don’t have an off switch.  Oops.


But who cares about race-specific training for a 10k, right? I have a half to train for in…oh yeah (eep!)…5 weeks. (more…)

Training Update: It’s going to be a big week!

I just looked at my training plan for next week: 14 hours of riding, including 5 spin classes (3 of them on Wednesday) and Collingwood training camp with the Toronto Triathlon Club on the long weekend. A total of 19 hours of training when I add in a couple of brick runs and some swims, but the focus is on the bike.

Training Peaks weekly plan

It’s going to be a tough week (anyone willing to make me food will receive my endless love and devotion), but a big block of training is going to get me in awesome shape for the MultiSport Canada Welland Rose City Tri in only 5 weeks!

My focus this week will be on maximizing my recovery: sleeping a lot, drinking water and eating lots of nutritious and healthy food – before, during and after workouts.
Also naps. Lots and lots of naps.