Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Cozumel 70.3

I usually write my race reports the day or two following the race, but this one is about a week overdue.  I was down in Cozumel Mexico racing the 70.3 (on October 2), and I'm just feeling now about ready to write a bit on it.  Racing at the half iron distance is quite tiring, and add on hot racing conditions and multiple flights, and it leaves you pretty fatigued!  The race report starts in the next paragraph...pictures are at the end (for those of you who like to skip the writing stuff).

I headed into Cozumel looking for a strong race in the 70.3 distance.  My year has been filled with difficult 70.3 performances, and I have yet to have a smooth, solid race.  Unfortunately, this race also went a bit sideways on the run.  I was reduced to walking through nearly all the aid stations and slow jogging in between them.  I'm figuring it had something to do with the extreme heat on the run, which was apparently over 40C.

I did have solid swim and bike performances.  I made a lot of adjustments and changes heading into this race to avoid problems I had earlier in the year (such as issues with flats or back pain on the bike).  I raced somewhat conservatively through the first two disciplines and thought I had left enough in the tank to have a solid run.  That turned out not to be the case, as I felt pretty much flat the entire run.  I did manage to make it to the finish though!

It leaves me in a bit of a frustrating situation.  Three 70.3 races this year, and not one of them was really any good.  As an athlete, you do all of your training to perform well in target races.  Repeated poor performances definitely leave you questioning the effort you have put in and wondering why or if you should keep going at it.  These are definitely legitimate questions to ask, but I don't find myself being particularly negative in my thought process...more practical I suppose.

I guess what I'm waiting for (or what any athlete is really waiting for) is one solid race in the 70.3 distance...one race where I race to my potential and hit a time I know I can.  A breakthrough race if you will.

Chop wood carry water seems to be the tagline for this.  What do you do pre-breakthrough race: chop wood carry water (aka: do work).  What do you do post-breakthrough race: chop wood carry water.  Regardless of the outcome of the race, the process remains the same.  Commit to the process, and the results will come...it just didn't turn out to be this year.

I wouldn't have been able to race in Mexico without the help of so many people who contributed to my fundraising effort.  All in all, I was able to raise enough to cover pretty much all of my expenses.  This took a lot of pressure/stress off of me going down to this race, and I really would not have made it there without everyones help!  Thank you all!  I raced my absolute best to the end...it just didn't end up being that fast :P

I was contemplating heading down to Los Cabos Mexico for another 70.3 race, but after Cozumel, I've decided to finish my season. A big thank you to everyone who supported me though the year!  This includes my sponsors (Mettle Multisport, Skechers Performance, Multisport Canada, eLoad Nutrition, and Fitt First) and my family and many friends (whose support was invaluable).

I'll likely keep the rest of this month relatively unstructured before regrouping and coming up with a plan for 2017.  Thank you all for following along, and we'll wait and see what next year holds!

The swim start (and my beard stroking contemplative look)

My dad and I pre-race swimming.  He was head of my support crew in Cozumel

Setting up transition before the sun came up

Hurting on the run

Post race tired

My dad getting some scenic sunset/beach shots

Some rooftop posing with my bike

Two amigos exploring Dallas on the way home...we found a giant eye

Monday, 12 September 2016

Georgina Sprint Triathlon (Turned Duathlon)

You show up to a race thinking you are fully prepared for whatever the day might throw at you.  Then, as if on cue, a situation arises you are completely unprepared for.

This has happened to me a few times this season.  I showed up to a big race with a brand new top of the line wetsuit only to find out I couldn't use it.  I could use a swim skin, but I didn't have one.
I have also had to deal with flatting my tubular disc wheel and finding I was unprepared to fix it.

I took steps to learn from those situations and come into my next races better prepared (i.e. buying a swim skin and having some flat fixing solutions ready to go).

Then I show up to Georgina to race a local event with Multisport Canada, and find out that because of strong winds, I can't use my disc wheel....and I didn't bring a spare.

Racing is all about preparing for situations like this, but it is also about how you react in situations like this.  This weekend, I wouldn't be racing if someone didn't lend me a wheel.  I was unprepared, and the only thing left was how I reacted.  I had to come to terms pretty quickly that I would likely not be racing, and that I had to be ok with that.

The day was saved by a complete stranger (to me) named Mike.  Mike showed up with a high end road bike wheel 10 minutes before the race started and he let me borrow it.  Race or no race, I would have been ok with either, but I was/am so appreciative Mike's generosity to allow me to race.  Thanks Mike!

The Race

So a bit about the race.  It was a duathlon (5km run, 20km bike, 2.5km run) because of strong winds that would have made swimming quite unsafe.  Multisport Canada is always great at adapting to the conditions and still offering people an option on race day, so big thanks to them for putting on a great event!   Alex and Adam were the only other elites in the race, so it was pretty much between the three of us for the win.  The pace started out quite fast on the first run (2:56 for the first km), and stayed pretty high.  Alex came in sub 16 for the first 5 km (with Adam behind him by a bit) and I was about 45-60 seconds back of the lead.


I biked well with Mike's wheel and caught both Alex/Adam at the dismount line.  I beat them both out of transition (the easy on tab of the Skechers go run 4's helped with that speed), but I fell back on the final run to third.  That second run is never a fun one.

Podium finishers!  In my Mettle Multisport shirt
Prior to the race, I had challenged my brother and Dad (who were also racing) to try and beat me.  I had to finish the whole race by the time they finished the first two legs of the race.  They both raced well, but did not end up beating me.  Now we just need to get my Mom to race too....

Whats Up Next??

There are a couple more races I have planned for my 2016 season, and they are big ones!  I'm going to be travelling to Cozumel Mexico for an October 2 race (70.3), and to Los Cabos Mexico for an October 30'th race (also 70.3).

These is my first real go at international racing, and I am looking for your support!  I have started a GoFundMe campaign to help me raise the money for registration, flights, and accommodation.  There is a link at the top of my blog, and also a link here with more details: https://www.gofundme.com/244tweng

I am already 1/4 of the way to my goal and any support you could give would be very appreciated!

A huge thank you to those who have already supported me in this campaign, and to those who have supported me through the season!

Sunday, 28 August 2016

When you're off, and when you're "off"

My favourite races are the ones where I raced my best on the day and performed to what I know is my best.  Unfortunately in the past week, I've had two races that were far off this mark.  One was last Sunday in New Hampshire where I raced the Timberman 70.3, and the other was this Saturday at a local Olympic distance race in Wasaga beach.  Both were underwhelming performances, but in different respects.

Timberman was a big race for me, but unfortunately, it marked my first DNF of the year (2'nd ever).  I flatted at 65km in, and with it being tubular (and a disc), I had no options on hand to fix it.  The result was sitting at the side of the road for two hours waiting to be picked up by tech support.  It wasn't really all that enjoyable (compounded by the fact there was no food/water available to me), and made for quite a long, and draining day.   

Wasaga was a week after Timberman, and although I didn't really feel like racing, I figured I would just go and give it what I had.  The swim was issue free, but mid bike, I was starting to feel more fatigued than usual.  I made it to the run in first position, but after running the first km 30 seconds slower than usual, I pretty much fell apart and suffered through the rest of the race.  I walked a lot of sections, stopped at most aid stations, and mustered together a 50min 10km.  I dropped to 13'th.

You never know what racing is going to deal you, and when it deals you an unfortunate outcome, the only thing you can really control is your response to the situation.  I was "off" in both races, but the response required to deal with Timberman and Wasaga are completely different.

My race was off in Timberman.  This was not due to much anything else apart from a mechanical issue.  Something small (aka a staple) messed up my race, and there was nothing I could do about it.  My race prep and my emergency preparedness were not up to spec, and as I result, my entire race was off.

My race was off in Wasaga.  This "off" had nothing to do with mechanical issues or chance staples in the middle of the road.  I felt certifiably awful on the run, which is highly uncharacteristic and makes me quite suspicious of deeper issues.  I pretty much went straight to a walk in clinic after getting home from the race.

Bad races will happen.  Off days will happen.  When you have one, you always have to take it in stride, but sometimes that stride means buying new tires, and other times it means going to the doctor.  I'm convinced that issue free race is out there...seemingly, there are more than a few off ones on the road to get there.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Kingston Long Course Triathlon: 2'nd OA 2:50:19

The Kingston triathlon is a long running, pretty much historical, race on the Ontario triathlon circuit.  I raced the long course for my first time last year, but unfortunately the day ended with a DQ.  Myself and Jordan Monnink (who were sitting 1'st and 2'nd at the time) missed a turn on the bike course on the way back into town, (cutting the course), which resulted in a DQ for both of us.  The infamous missed turn was relatively unclear compared to other course markings, causing some frustration from both Jordan and I.  You can read more about my thoughts after last years DQ here.

I traveled to the race this year with fellow pro Mikael Staer Nathan.  His girlfriend joined us, graciously driving us both ways, and his mom and dog (pancake) also came to cheer us on.
Pancake likes bananas

Race Summary 

The field was quite competitive on the mens side, with fellow pros Jordan, Mikael, and Alex VanderLinden mixing it up at this years race (along with a few other local fast guys).  We all started the swim together, and kept together for about the first half.  The pack blew apart when the women's race favourite Angela Quick made an attack at the turnaround.  I didn't end up making the break, and was left to swim solo for the rest (which ended up being pretty good, because the lead pack went off course).  Angela beat us all out of the water.
I started the bike a bit down from Jordan and Alex, but ahead of Mikael.  I caught Alex maybe 15km into the bike (he ended up pulling out of the race) but never caught Jordan.  I came off the bike in 2'nd, and was feeling good even after dropping a full bottle of eLoad.  Heading into the run, I was about 1.5 minutes down from Jordan, and 1.5 minute ahead on Mikael.  
I ran well in my Skechers Go Run4's for the whole 15km (albeit no socks, so there was some blood post race).  My pace stayed strong and consistent, and although I couldn't catch Jordan, I held off a hard chasing Mikael to claim second.  
Jordan would have won last year (with me a likely second), so it was nice to see that play out this year (and count).

The overall finishers


Jordan and I both made the correct turn this year and finished 1/2.  Multisport Canada did a standup job of making sure this corner was better marked this year.  Instead of a single/small obscure sign (with no volunteers) marking the turn like last year, this year there were 3 big signs, a row of pylons, and two volunteers at the corner.  Much appreciated!

Thanks to all who were cheering from back home and for all the cheers/support from Mettle Multisport.  By the way, Mettle Multisport is hosting a transition clinic in a couple weeks...click here for more details!  Up next is Timberman 70.3 down in New Hampshire.  

Monday, 18 July 2016

Gravenhurst Olympic-2'nd OA 1:59:57

The Gravenhurst triathlon is one of the more unique races in Ontario.  The race starts with a steamship ride to the middle of the lake, where you are dropped, lined up, and then required to swim back to land.

Loading the boats

I had the pleasure of staying over with the McCoy family at their cottage for the weekend.  They were extremely hospitable, and it made for a very nice weekend up in Muskoka.

Race Summary

The long run up to transition

The swim segment was pretty typical with no real surprises.  Jackson Laundry and I headed onto the bikes about the same time, and headed onto the hilly/winding bike course.


The bike course proved to be much more eventful, with a lot of fast, tight turns, small/steep hills, and a fair amount of loose gravel.  I saw one of the women favourites Emma Plater (her race report here) got an untimely flat midway on the course.
Out on the bike

I was back from Jackson the whole bike, but near the end, I lost sight of him completely. I thought he just hammered out a big lead, but it turns out he got hit by a car!  There is much more detail to the story, and you can find his report here.

I didn't see the incident, so when I headed out onto the run, I thought I was in second.  It was only at the halfway point when Jackson went by me that I found out what happened.
I guess I was too fast on the bike, so the camera man wasn't in position and only got my back
He didn't seem significantly hurt, and must have had a huge adrenaline surge, because he ran by me fast.  It was good to see he was ok and was able to claim his rightful win.  I finished a bit of a ways back of him in second (where I got tripped up on the finish banner).


I was good to see Jackson was alright.  Huge props to him for such a strong finish!
The race went well and issue free, which is good for this point in the season.  Up next I'll be racing in Kingston for the long course race, and then looking to give another 70.3 a go.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Toronto Triathlon Festival- 1'st OA, 1:55:19 Olympic

I always like racing at the Toronto Triathlon Festival.  The venue is one of the best around, and the bike course is especially nice with closed highways to ride on.  I won this race last year and became the provincial champ in the distance, so it was only natural that I wanted to be back this year and defend my title.

After a difficult race in Mont Tremblant a few weekends ago where I had muscle tightness problems on the bike, I was hoping for a better race this weekend.  I was able to see Scott at Fitt 1'st during the week leading into the race (and we were able to make some good changes to my bike), so I was feeling much more confident in my bike/aero position.

Race Summary

Unlike last year where I started in the fourth wave, at this years race I started in the first "elite" wave.  The elite wave consisted of three people...one who swam faster than me, and one who swam slower, so I pretty much just had a solo swim.  Kirk Hopkins beat me out of the water by around 3 minutes, so I had a lot of time to make up on the bike, but it was nice to have someone to chase.
I caught up to Kirk about 25km in, but just as I was about to pass him, he started swerving back and forth on the road, and I nearly crashed into him.  Turns out he got a flat right as I went by (I didn't know this until after), and it was fortunate that there were no injuries.
I had no one else even close to me off the bike, so I had a solo run too.  On the back portion of the run course, I saw Daniel Clarke chasing from a ways back (he had started in a later wave, so there was a time gap).  When I crossed the line first, I was unsure if I had actually won.  I waited for Daniel to cross the line, and after the math was done, it was announced I had won by 25 seconds (results say 37).


It was a pretty awesome event in downtown Toronto.  There were a bunch of athletes from Mettle Multisport racing this weekend, as well as a large group from Harvest Bible Chapel (doing the sprint relay), so I was surrounded by great people.  My family also came to watch, and it was my Dads birthday, so it was great to get a win for him!

My next race is Multisport Canada Gravenhurst this upcoming weekend, so its a pretty short turnaround! Check out some pictures from the race below:

It was an early morning race start.  6:50am gun went off

When there are only 3 people in your wave, its pretty chill

Heading up the DVP...my parents got this shot from an overhead bridge

Coming in off the bike.  My eLoad didn't fall off my bike this year
Running into the finish in my Skechers Go Run 4's

Successfully defended my provincial title!
On the podium in my Skechers

Some of the relay members from HBCYR.  Great job everyone!

With fellow Mettle coach Christine who also won her AG!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

A Rough Day At the Races-Mont Tremblant 70.3

I didn't have a great race in Mont. Tremblant...in fact my race itself was quite dreadful in regards to performance.  My body tightened up about 65km into the bike, and I had a real battle just to finish the rest of the ride.  Then I had to decide if I call it a day, or run a half marathon.  I decided I was going to make it to the finish, which I did, but it was at an embarrassingly slow pace.  There was quite the battle going on in my head during the run, and my thought process was going something like this:  

"Why am I still running"...(then I motivate myself to keep going)"you can do it Andy...keep going"...(run for 100m then)..."why am I still running"  and repeat for 21.1km.

I did eventually finish, and I think I'm better off for it (opposed to calling it quits).  I'm not a fan of dropping out of races, and if I can still move forward without injuring myself (or causing further damage to my body), I'll keep fighting and get it done.

There is a definite need to evaluate my bike ride in the coming weeks...why did I tighten up and what can be done to help with this.  I'll likely be tinkering with my aero position, bike training, and apparel selection in the coming weeks to better prepare myself for 90km in aero position.

Overall however, I had a great weekend.  This race was without a doubt the best race I have ever attended, and I had a ton of fun.  The organization of the event, the venue, and the overall atmosphere were absolutely amazing.  There was so much awesomeness going on at this race, that even though I had a rough day on the race course, I still had a great time and am feeling positive going forward.

Some Photos from the race:

Pre-race photo shoot with Skechers!  I'm third from the left

My setup in transition race morning.  All loaded up with eLoad for what would be a hot race.

Swim start (I am third swimmer from the left).  The plane is approaching

Fighter jet flyover...I really like jets, so this was awesome

We had camera guys on motorbikes snapping photos of us on course!  I was still feeling good at this point.

Mikael, Kristen and I went on the luge after...no problem going fast there!