A Thirty Four Kilometer Adventure

I loaded up my bike with all the goods to head down to Calmar and come back via spruce grove… I was aiming in the 120-140 km round trip range. I got out onto the street and the wind was blowing something fierce, the humidity was round-about 99% and it was less than 10 degrees. I went for a lap of the block and headed back inside, my knuckles were freezing. I dropped off the helmet grabbed my bottle holder waist belt and headed out the door on foot, expecting that I’d be able to stay a heck of a lot warmer if I wasn’t on a rainy range road getting slammed by the elements.

Hold on before you throw around the word pansy because this didn’t turn into any short run. Starting out from near the High level bridge I ran through the river valley all the way down to Fort-Edmonton park, I then ran up the hill and crossed over to Brookside. I dropped down to the Equine center and then ran south down Whitemud ravine. Stopped at Rainbow valley to fill up the water and headed into the south-whitemud trails. I did all three prongs of the trail system there and headed back north, filling up water and making my way back past the equine center, up the hill into Belgravia and back to the house. Amounting to somewhere around 34 clicks with a grand-total time of 3 hours 13 minutes.

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Calmar trip number one

The first trip to to Calmar for this summer went well. To check out the route if you’re unfamiliar with the outlying areas of Edmonton visit This Map of the route. It totals around 96 km, I always thought it was 100 but I guess I did some extra screwing around last time I did it which easily could have added those 4 kms. Oh, and in case you were wondering the Calmar Bakery is closed on Sundays, so if you want a partner to ride to Calmar I’ll do it on some Saturday next time.


I averaged 30.6 km/h until I reached the Devon stopsign when I checked my watch. I didn’t get another split until I was home which was 28.4 km/h but I’d made a couple stops so it doesn’t reflect the fact that I was much speedier on the return than on the way out, the wind helped a bit but I think more importantly I caught a couple roadies in my sights as I passed Rabbit Hill Baptist Church and nailed a 30 minute aero set to catch them by the time I got to the Ellerslie 4-way stop. I was probably about 34-36 km/h for that stretch which came around kilometers 70 through 80. I felt good but ran out of water there so had a thristy little ride back through the river valley.

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Certainly an interesting character

Here’s an interesting website to take a peek at. Kenny Souza was 4th at RAAM in 2006. The website documents his trip, it’s got some cool pictures and neat stories.

wolf creek

If you’re interested in hearing a bit more about what he felt about the experience (the website documents from the perspective of his crew) check out an interview with him on Compeditor Radio from the end of June last year.

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Build week number one

So, following the race last weekend I stuck together a nice stack of workouts this past week I’m down 5 lbs from last Sunday morning (that’s more than hydration on any account) but I’m feeling good, A long ride and short run Sunday and I’ll take a quick break early next week, (just swimming). That should set me up for a very big bike volume long weekend.


  • 36 hilly km recovery ride following the race (10 min run off bike)
  • 8 repeats on Emily Murphy hill followed by 17 km at 5:20 pace
  • 13 km hills at 5:50 pace
  • Swim 8 times 250m at 4:40, 4:43, 4:43, 4:45, 4:53, 4:39, 4:43, 4:50 – pretty good rhythm if you ask me.
  • Long bike ride … Calmar and back … 96 km. Comments and photo here

New Balance

I also picked up some new shoes from the sidewalk sale at the Running Room. They’re New Balance 1023, supposed to be high mileage trainers, They keep me a bit more on the ball of my foot than the Asics (GT2110) that I’ve also got. I figured I might as well buy them now because they’re a good deal, I don’t know if I’ll wear out my Asics first and then swap over or go with both at the same time, giving my feet a change once in a while…

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UofA Spring Thaw Triathlon

The season has officially begun… and I’m super pleased with how things went. This morning at quarter to six I was up and at it eating and drinking (about 940 kCal) and out the door to make it to transition just as it opened, I drank another 100 kCal while booting around the race site. I got what I considered the very best spot on the lot.

in transition

It wasn’t the first spot taken, because people always want to run less distance with their bike shoes, but I was planning to mount with the shoes clipped in (see the picture) and I generally don’t have any trouble running with my bike. I went for the closest spot to the bike finish and run start.

I quoted a time of 14:30 for the swim, I figured best to underestimate by a few seconds (I was confident that I could swim sub 15) so that I would be stretched my people in my lane. It turned out that we had an old slow dude in our lane and a really fast teenager. So, a bunch of passing needed to happen and I jumped from the pool in a time of about 15:10. Including time to the mat (~100m with walk on deck): 15:38. (place 52/116)

T1 went alot smoother than last year when I got my race number stuck to my back because it was paper and I was wet… go figure. It was bound to be chilly racing at just a bit past nine in the morning. I opted to go for a cycling jersey with sleeves, admittedly not the most aero top I own but that’s okay. I wore arm warmers (which are tough to put on, I did most adjusting on the bike) and a skull-toque. The race number was on a belt.

I opted to go with shoes in the clips and fixed the left shoe (mount side) to the quick release with a small elastic which would break as soon as I started pedaling. I did a flying mount and had my feet in without much trouble. I was pretty impressed that it still worked with freezing cold and wet feet, I hadn’t practiced like that for comfort related reasons.

The bike course is 4.5 5 km laps, amounting to 21.6 km. I started out with a good spin to get loosened up but after about 400m I dropped the hammer. I maintained aero the whole time except for a 200m stretch that was classified as a “no passing zone” because of all the potholes and all the weaving that everyone was up to to stay out of them. I got caught behind a mountain bike twice in the section so I sat upright and got a good drink and stretched the legs a bit while waiting to get through it (automatic DQ if you pass, they did enforce it, poor guy).

The course includes a deadly hill (well 4 deadly hills I guess), Last year I was out of the saddle from the bottom and was quick but had a tough time on the top half where it kinks up and gets steeped just before you reach the summit. I elected to stay seated until the kink, at which point I geared up and sprinted out the really steep section. That’s how the pros did it in the ITU race last summer and it works well, your heart rate jumps anaerobic, but you reach the crux of the hill with speed and I think that makes a big difference. (Probably wouldn’t select this strategy for my 1/2 IM but it works for short races where “AET” doesn’t spell “DEAD”.

I was out of my shoes with a bit more than 100 meters to go and rode into T2, flying dismount and run with my bike. I was very impressed with my speed through T2. Time for T1 & Bike & T2: 39:57 (place 15/116).

The run course was flat and I thoroughly surprised myself with a blistering run considering I’ve been off my left foot for most of the last 2 months after Neil helped me destroy it. I started out with a 4:30 pace as I knew I needed to get my legs and wasn’t sure how the foot would feel going out. I stuck to that pace for less than a km and picked it up. I felt tight in my hip flexors (not enough aero riding yet this season, so they got tight on the bike is my guess) for the first 3 km and after a drink halfway I felt amazing and put a smile on my face. I hammered out the last 2 km and managed to feel destroyed at the finish line, which was one of the goals for the day. Time for the run: 20:18 (place 20/116).

Overall my time was 1:15:52. I placed 21/116 overall and 7/21 in my age group.

Anything I’d change? I did everything right based on my conditioning as far as I can tell. I need to practice aero because it’s rough on the body to ask 40 minutes of hard effort in that body position when you’ve been riding the rollers without much concern for good aerodynamics. It’s only going to be more important to practice this for longer distances this season. Unfortunately besides moving somewhere it’s impossible to get much practice before a race that comes this early in the season. I might be best off if I decide to go with arm warmers to just get them on my wrists while I’m still wet and then bike till my arms are dry and then pull them up. This doesn’t really get you warm very quickly but it would have prevented me from having damp arms all race. I don’t know which is the better decision though.

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Yeah Rutger!

When it comes to Dutch Triathletes I have to admit they’re a bit sparse. But you know what I’ll throw my support behind the Belgian Rutger Beke, he speaks the language at least. He’s pretty tall, blonde and rides a bike.

What’s more impressive about this guy, he’s cracked the top five at the Ironman World Championships in Kona Hawaii for the last 4 years running. Unfortunately he’s never won an Ironman race until about 3 hours ago when he crossed the finish line in Tempe with a time of 8:21:16.

  • 52:08 – Swim
  • 4:30:21 – Bike
  • 2:54:30 – Run

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Wow Cameron Brown!

I was pretty sad when I heard that Cameron Brown was “vomiting from both ends” this past Wednesday. With Ironman New Zealand coming up on Friday (Saturday NZ time) I really hoped he’d be able to race. After all this guy was one of my favorites for Kona in 2006 (ended up 8th in 8:25). I was able to watch the swim online and a couple transitions at Ironman Live. They don’t do quite as extensive of a job there as they do in Kona, obviously there’s not the demand to justify the cost.

Interested in watching the highlight reel, here’s what I found: TVNZ.co.nz

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Caffeine and Triathlon…

Here’s the question as I’ve most recently seen it posed: “I’m interested in hearing thoughts about benefits/detriments of caffeine on a triathlete. I know for a fact that peter Reid would abstain for a month before Kona to maximize the effect that day. Normann Stadler ate like 17 2Xcaffine Powergel’s at IM world championships in 2006.”

Here’s the summary of my reading on the topic.

Caffiene creates positive feedback in a fat metabolism cycle. caffeine can essentially increase your blood fat levels if you surprise your body with it. (If you remember high school biology there are 2 kinds of feedback, positive feedback and negative feedback Homeostasis (body regulation functions) is generally a setup of a whole slew of negative feedback.)

If your body always has caffiene in it you aren’t going to see any effect because your body always operates in this zone. Don’t think that you can lose fat tissue by doing this, your body’s negative feedback systems will get ahold of your blood fatty acid levels and this effect is negated.

Therefore use of caffeine can have a real plus on race day for an endurance event. Your glycogen stores will last longer because your body will be able to metabolize a higher proportion of fat. The average 15-17 hour IM athlete ends their day in this region because they put such a tax on their body but for them their glycogen needs to get really depleted before this happens.

So, should you try hyping yourself up on caffeine on race day? Yes and No. If you haven’t done it in training please don’t be a dumbass and try something new when it comes time to perform at your best. (If you haven’t already heard that advice a million times you should do some reading) The other things to keep in mind are:

  • caffeine *IS* a diuretic, this means you’re going to lose more fluids in your pee. you might think twice about how much time you can gain by biking a bit faster but taking 10 washroom break (there are ways around this apparently, they’re just never shown on the NBC Kona broadcast)
  • Caffeine does give you a mental buzz. getting a mental buzz puts you at a higher risk for a mental crash. It doesn’t mean you’re going to completely drain yourself by getting up on a buzz, but it does mean you need to know that it’s a buzz and keep eating/drinking while you’re on it. You won’t come off the buzz as hard if you’re keeping yourself well nourished/hydrated, but it’s harder to remember to do so when you feel good.
  • Caffeine increases cellular Calcium ion levels, this in turn leads to increased interstitial Potassium ion levels, (this means potassium moves out of cells into the juice between them) For your skeletal muscle and nerves this means that the contraction (or firing of the nerve) is going to be slightly retarded.

What do you make of these other effects on your body? well do a bit of thinking and decide for yourself. My opinion on the the ion concentration stuff is as follows:

This might be a good thing if you want your muscle to pull really really hard (once) but generally this isn’t a great idea for a triathlete. If your muscle fiber is going to pull harder or longer on each rep it’s going to get tired faster. As we all know a slow twitch muscle fiber has been built during training to work at low-med intensity for (insert big number here) repetitions. If you’re a triathlete who is training smart this is the kind of muscle you’ve got.

Whether or not this effect of caffeine is going to hurt your probably depends on whether or not you’re going to let it. If you’re well trained and well disciplined to cycle at a certain cadence or run with a certain turnover this isn’t going to be of much detriment to you (in fact the increased fatty acid levels will be net benefit) If you’re not disciplined while racing you may feel like pushing a higher gear and loving the speed. This can pretty quickly increase your power output, but you’re not helping yourself out here. Your muscles are going to get tired faster than they should.

If you’re going to be really smart on this topic you might think about using sports legs to counteract this effect of the caffeine and reap the benefits of caffeine while not incurring this effect but I doubt it’ll work as nicely as you theoretically might think it would. I doubt anyone is going to ever try this in a study because it’s just to dang complicated.

So the natural thing to ask I guess is whether or not I do it? Yes, I have done so and plan on doing so again this coming season.

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Triglycerides: 1.1 mM/L

Total Cholesterol: 3.36 mM/L

Fasting Glucose: 4.55 mM/L

HDL: 1.12 mM/L

LDL: 2.01 mM/L

VLDL: 0.5 mM/L

TD/HDL: 3.3

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Now here is a cool story

Martin Strel is planning on swimming the entire length of the amazon river over the course of the next 722 days. If you thought that I had some crazy ideas up my sleeves you’d better take a look at This Website and see what this guy is planning on doing… Swimming the entire length of the Amazon River!

It amounts to around 90 km of swimming each day. The funny things is that this isn’t a joke he’s serious. He’s swum the entire Danube River (Europe), the entire Mississippi River (USA) and the entire Yangtze River (China) and the entire Parana River (Argentina). He’s also swum 504 kilometers in 84 hours, continuously!

I guess his speed has got to be on pace for ~4 km/hour in standing water if he plans to get those big distances on moving water.

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