Sunday, August 30, 2015

Let the taper begin.

The bulk of the training is done. 2 weeks left for tapering. The last 18 weeks has seen: 48 Swims for 118,350m; 77 bike rides @ 4,258 km; and 78 runs for 596 km. Approximately 260 hours of training (14.5hrs per week). As per usual, completely unorthodox. Basically, bike as much as possible, run 3-4 times a week (nothing super long), and swim 3 times a week. Two-a-days when possible. Intensity level at low-medium, with a couple of good all-out-Monday night duathlons, and 2 or 3 races for good measure. It's paid off so far with PBs at the Super-Sprint, Sprint Triathlon, Olympic Triathlon and Half Ironman distances. Let's hope it does magic for the Full.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Cornwall Triathlon - Nirvana Achieved

Sometimes everything falls in place and you have a magical race. This year's Cornwall Triathlon was that race. I had hatched a plan to go sub 2:30 this year. That race time for some reason seems like the Holy Grail for me in terms of Olympic Triathlon finish times. I've come close to it before, but never really cracked it (okay once at Montreal Esprit, but that's a fast course). My plan was contingent on a 26:30 swim, holding 32kph on the bike and a 45:29 10K run to finish it up. 32kph was a conservative estimate for the bike - it isn't rocket fast, but despite being traffic free, the Cornwall course is technical and often the wind can creep up on you.

Swim (1500m) - The swim course looked longer than I expected. I was starting to have doubts. I just put them aside. Fuggetaboutit - just grab a fast draft and hold on. The horn went off, and it was absolute mayhem. It was an uncharacteristically rough (for Cornwall) swim start. Within 50m I was at my frustration limit, I couldn't get any clean water, and it felt like there was a wall of swimmers blocking me the whole width of the channel. I went way wide to swim around them, blowing a ton of matches, and seemingly for nothing. Once past the mayhem, there was no one to swim with. I hit the turn around buoy and found a pack, but they were swimming way wide off course, and so I made a decision to ditch them and swim close to the buoy line. My sighting was great despite my left lens being completely full of water for 1500m. I was constantly thinking about the 26:30 goal I had set for the opening leg, but I didn't feel I was swimming fast enough to get it, I was depending on taking an easy draft off someone, but there was no one there, and instead I could feel constant nipping at my toes. I was getting really peed off. I managed to talk myself down, and after hitting the last turn on the second lap, I gunned it for the shore. I got out at 27:18 --- close, but dam, I was really hoping not to start the day off in the hole.
Photo Credit: Nicholas Branchaud
T1 - I had budgeted 2 minutes. I was in and out in 1:38 thanks to the wetsuit strippers and a clean transition zone.

Bike - 4 x 10k loops on the closed road circuit. It was in a word - exceptional. Over the past 2 years about 50% of the course has been freshly paved, and the remaining road is in very good condition. On top of that the wind that can sneak up on you (coming from the East), was almost non-existent, and when it did start up - it was gently blowing from the West - which feels like a net-benefit on this course. I had set the bike computer up to show only AVG speed, and I was committed to the goal of 32kph. Lap 1 came and went at 33.9, and then by lap 2 it was up to 35, and for lap 3 and most of lap 4 it was staying pretty much at 35. I knew today was the day.  There was a great buzz about the race (as is usual), the course loops around the T-Zone area twice per loop, so eight times over 40k - and there were a ton of people cheering. And all along the bike course, the volunteers at the road blocks were all enthusiastically cheering. This bike course makes you feel like a rock star for sure.

Photo Credit: Andrew Ha

T2 - I capitalized on my learning a few weeks ago at the Maple City Triathlon, and didn't make any of the rookie mistakes I had made there. I was in and out of T2 in 1:15.

Run - a 10K along the recreational path - 5k out and 5k back. This is where I normally blow it. My legs are so fired up, I usually run way too fast right off the bat. I set the Garmin up to display only one field for the run segment: avg pace. I knew I wanted to run close to 45 minutes, so I wasn't going to let myself run any faster than 4:30 pace. Thankfully, I had done that because I came out of T2 running 3:40 something, and it felt like nothing... so I forced myself to slow down. Within 200 meters, I had the pace dialed down to 4:30 and I was feeling good. I was about 5 seconds behind two Zone-3 Sports guys, and they were running consistently, so I made a tactical decision to bridge up. I shadowed them most of the rest of the way, we were splitting 4:35 kms so that was fine for me.

Photo Credit: Jessica Brochert
With 2.5K to go, I finally changed the mode on my Garmin to see what the race time was and how close I was to 2:30. It said '2:12'. I had to do a double-take. I did the quick math, and knew even if I dropped to 5 minute pace I would be in under 2:30. What a great feeling. It was around this time that my Zone-3 valets probably got tired of my mad-horse-breathing and they dropped me like a hot potato. I contemplated the chase for about a half a second, and just enjoyed the last couple of k's. When I approached the finish line, I was shocked to see the clock reading 2:25 - I did the craziest dance of joy, and strutted it in, completely content. Final run was 46:07. Official time 2:25:54. An official PB.

I now have the giant sub-2:30 Olympic gorilla off my back.
Photo Credit: Nicholas Branchaud


SegmentDistanceTimePaceRace Time
Swim1500 m0:27:181:40 /100m0:27:18
Bike40 km1:09:3834.5 kph1:38:35
Run10 km0:46:074:37 /km2:25:54

Average bike speed per 10k loop: 33.9 kph, 35.0 kph, 35.0 kph, 34.4kph
Run pace per km: 4:32, 4:35, 4:35, 4:37, 4:45, 4:27, 4:34, 4:39, 4:42, 4:46

Nutrition Report: 5 Gels on the day (yuck)
#1 30 mins pre-swim
#2 13.5k on bike (second loop between Boundary Rd and Nav Can)*
#3 33.5k on bike (fourth loop between Boundary Rd and Nav Can)
#4 1.5k on run ("sipped" it for about 1k)
#5 5.5k on run (after Boundary Road, again, "sipped it" for about 500m).
3/4 of Aero bottle of water on bike.
1/4 cup of water at each aid station. No gatorade this year.

* The first loop of the bike I had scouted where an opportune time might be to take a gel. The bike course was so fast this year that this was the only 'slow' spot (right after a 180 degree turn and on a slight uphill).

On-site post race:
1x water bottle, 1x chocolate milk,  1x apple juice, 1x orange juice, 1x pepperoni pizza slice, 1x chocolate cookie, 1x chocolate desert square, 1x serving of quinoa salad, 1x serving of bean salad, 1x orange slice

The other Barneses:

Laura rocked the kids triathlon, taking a commanding 3 minute lead out of T2, and winning the Girls 12-14 race. Her "Swan Song" to so speak for the Young Champion's Day. Next year she "Ages up".

Photo Credit: Pete Chaussi

Andrew capitalized on a summer-long "taper" and climbed his way up to a second place overall finish in the Adult Try-a-tri. Besting his last year's time by nearly 3 minutes, he earned a mug for 2nd AG and a $50 certificate to Bicycle World for 2nd OA.

Guylaine, making a game-day switch to Hed3's after her Zipps were determined to be leaking air, rocked a 2nd place AG in the Olympic Triathlon equaling - to the second - her PB time from last year.
Photo Credit: Jessica Brochert

All in all a successful weekend.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cornwall Triathlon Prediction

In 2012, I almost achieved Nirvana. I was 1 minute and 41 seconds over my precious sub-2:30 goal for an Olympic Triathlon. Looking back, this was my most satisfying performance in an Olympic Triathlon - the run in particular stood out as being exceptional. In 2013, I blew it on the run; my ego got the better of me running sub 4 minute pace out of T2. The bike was slower in 2013 too with more wind to contend with.

I will race smarter this year and I will break 2:30. Here's why:

1) Swim - I have erred in the past thinking that my sleeveless wetsuit was just as fast as a sleeved wetsuit. I have seen the light and the conventional wisdom, and measured swim pace with and without sleeves. Sleeves are faster. I will wear sleeves this year. On top of that, my swim form is the best it has been in a while. I did well at the CMC open water swim with a balls-out time of 23:50 with little draft, and followed it up with a 12-something hard 750m the next day at the Maple City Triathlon.

2) Bike - New bike, new wheels, I will target 32kph and not let up. I will setup my Garmin so that the only field is Avg Speed and I will keep 32 (more if there's more). There is also about 20% fresh asphalt on this years course: sweet.

3) Run - The wild card. I will hold back out of T2, and build towards 4:30 pace. That is a tough standalone pace for me, but again I managed 21:32 on an accurate and hot Maple City 5K course earlier this year. 45:30 isn't too far off.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Maple City Triathlon Race Report

This triathlon is held in Ogdensburg, New York.  An hours drive, give or take. It's a grass roots event, with obvious buy-in from the community and the Town of Ogdensburg. It is USAT sanctioned (last year, it qualified me for USAT Olympic Distance Nationals because I finished top 10% in my age group... I was the only one in my age group, but USAT didn't care). And yes, the field is rather small; this year there were 35 Individuals and 15 relay teams. But don't let that fool you, the range of competitors ran the gammut from newbie first-timers to a Pro from Texas. This year's female winner of IMLP was there, as was a certain Triathlon Internet Celebrity (not me). The race is a Sprint Triathlon in the pure sense (750m swim, 20km bike and 5k run) - accurately measured - there's no du or aquabike, it's a triathlon, one event. It's electronically timed, and you get T1 and T2 splits. It is well run, with a good attention to detail.

My race? Well, last year, I was 4th overall for men, and I was determined to climb up on the podium this year. I knew the guy who finished first wouldn't be there this year, so this was my chance...?

Swim - a triangle of 750m, in a bay area of the St. Lawrence River. A third of which goes over a sand bar, where you could, if you wanted to stand up and take a break.

I started at the front, and made a mad dash for the first buoy. 100m in, it was obvious who I needed to tuck behind, and so I did... for the next 650m. Hit the swim out at 12 minutes and change. Great for me - especially considering the hard 1500m race I had swum the night before.

T1 - Even though I've been doing tris for 12 years, I still mess up. This time I forgot to reset my bike computer, and I had my gears set up wrong - big chain ring, little cog - from my last ride - This is why sprint tris are great learning / re-remebering exercises if your training for Ironman. In and out in 36 seconds - happy with my pre-race decision to body-glide my arms/wrists and ankles/calves so the wetsuit would strip off easier.

Bike - 20km - A 10k out and back on a rolling, not too busy highway. The key spots have State Troopers assigned to them to hold back traffic if need be. Passed 2 people, got passed by one. I re-remembered that grinding up hills isn't great - there's no shame in gearing up every once in a while. Final time was 34:42 @ 34.6kph.

T2 - Again, lots of re-remembering, I usually dismount with the shoes on the bike, but for some reason, I unclipped instead - this messed up my normal T2 routine, and seemed to take me forever to get going (actual time was 47 seconds).

Run 5K - an out and back on a recreation path. I'm in survival mode now, trying not to do my "classic Phil" and run too hard for the first 2K. I immediately decided to rip a gel, and probably wasn't the best timing, as the first water station was about at 750m and from T2 to that water station, the burning sensation of a Razzberry Razz sat in my esophagus for over 3 minutes. Ahh.. instant relief at the water station, as the cold water rinsed the gooey-gu. Out of T2, I knew I was in 4th spot, and I knew I was off the podium, my only hope was that one of the 3 in front blew up... they did not, and in fact, ran much faster than I did. I finished the run with 21:32; and a final time of 1:10:29.

But - I still got to stand on my very first legit podium. They re-jigged the awards this year. Top 3 relay teams, Top 3 Men Under 40 and 40+ and Top 3 Women Under 40 and 40+. So I was called up for 3rd place M40+. Guylaine, was top W40+ and earned a 26-er of Maple Syrup.

For me, this was a great race. It's a well run event and I highly recommend it.
Swim out
Bike In
Run out - smiling
Run in - not so much smiling (but having fun deep down inside)
M40+ Podium
Guylaine on top of the W40+ podium

The bounty
Official Splits
750m Swim - 12:54.19
T1 - 00:36.42
20K Bike - 34:42.11
T2 - 00:43.78
5K Run - 21:32.50
Final Time - 1:10:29.00

Thursday, July 09, 2015

New Toy! Garmin Forerunner 910XT (and a near miss on PR for 500m swim TT)

For some reason, Best Buy had a brand new Garmin Forerunner 910XT on sale for $199. I grabbed it.

And, already today, I have Biked, Run and Swam with it.Not necessarily by design. I double flatted 8K into my early morning bike ride. I hobbled home, and took out my other bike, but the Mojo was gone, and headed back home after 7K for a 6K run instead.

Having run in the morning, I opted for a swim at lunch.... and so while we've got fancy new toys, why not a 500 meter time-trial.

Pretty neat stats for indoor swimming.

And so, pretty pleased with my TT effort, just missing a PB by 5 seconds, I threw in a 100m IM for good measure...

It recognized the different strokes (except for Backstroke, it thought that was Freestyle - I manually edited that line). Funny to see my last 25 meters of Freestyle only burned 5 calories.

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Return to Tupper Lake

In 2007, I was invincible: I was young, I was on the top of my game, I knew everything there was to know about triathlon...  ...or so I thought.

Eight years later, 2015, a return to the Tupper Lake Tinman: older, wiser, smarter, fitter, faster.

The Tupper Lake course is tricky -- the bike is hilly/rolling, and the run is hilly/rolling too. 5:29 was my goal time, based on a previous best of 5:19 at the Canadian 113 (a much easier course, 2 years ago) and 5:46 from the 2007 Tinman.  Actual finish time this year... 5:13:39. A massive improvement from 2007.

Very happy with that.

Pre-Race Intrigue:
Our hotel for the night was in Saranac Lake. We drove down to the hotel first, thus traveling through Malone, New York. ... something was up. Police, everywhere; hundred's of police. It turns out, we were traveling through the area where the massive manhunt for the escaped prisoners was going on. In fact, one of the prisoners was shot and killed very close to where we were, very close to when we passed through.

The Race:

Swim (1900m, 1.2 miles)
The horn went off, and it was chaotic for the first 150 meters or so. It settled down quickly. I swam smart, and tucked in behind others whenever I could. It was nice to be in the first wave, no swim traffic at all. The water was announced as 65°F. The long sleeved wetsuit turned out to be a good choice. Sun on the way back was not a problem this year, as there was a slight cloud cover. Swim split was 33:42.

The bike racks for transition had been set up in such a way that my pre-assigned spot (bib #251) was the absolute most favourable location. 100 out of 100 people, if given the choice, would have chosen that spot.

Bike (90km, 56 miles)
The bike course was much less congested than I remembered it previously. There was only 380 total competitors this year, compared to 910 in 2007.  I rode well, but was continually being passed. I only passed 6 people in total (3 of those were on the side with flats). I hit the half-way turnaround at 1:20:48 - that was fast. I was thinking wow, a 2:40 bike spit would be awesome, but then on the way back I realized why I was so fast - the wind was behind me, and now it was in my face. I struggled to keep the speed over 30kph. My ride home was 10 minutes slower than the ride out. Nonetheless, it was a good bike ride, I was happy with it. Guylaine saw me at me when I was 12 minutes past the turnaround, and called out to me. I was glad she had made it that far without any trouble. She said I was in 30th spot.

The ride felt pretty isolated, except for being passed and the few times I passed people, I was the only bike in sight.  Bike split was 2:51:12 (31.6 km/hr).

In and out in 1:32. Took the time to put socks on for the run.

Run (21.1km, 13.1 miles)
The goal was to try and run 1:45. I knew that was 8 minute miles -- 5 minutes per kilometer. The course, being in the US was all marked in miles, so I just knew to try and keep it close to 8 and stay away from 9. The run was apparently modified somewhat at the start because of flooding. We ran on (soggy) grass for longer than I remembered from 2007 until we finally got to the road. This run course is cruel, it goes up and up and up for the first 3 miles.

I didn't notice the first mile marker, but I did get a split at the second mile: 15:55 (great, I was just under 8 minute pace). Although the pace felt constant, the mile markers were appearing at random times, some came too soon, and others too late (for example mile 6 at 7:33, but mile 7 at 8:31).  On the run, I was mostly alone again. I passed one person that I remember, but was passed by at least 10 others.

At mile 10, I knew I had 5K to go, and started doing the math. Sub 5:20 was looking promising... Sub 5:15 was a possibility. I kept up the effort. At mile 12, it looked like sub 5:15 wouldn't be possible, but nonetheless, I picked up the pace. The last mile was mostly downhill.  Somehow, the finish line appeared quicker than I expected. I finished the run in 1:45:52, and completed the day with 5:13:39. A Huge PB.

I had seen Guylaine on the run twice, and figured she was about 35 minutes behind me. I was able to take a quick dip in the COLD lake to sooth my legs, and get changed to meet her on the finish line.

Guylaine's (almost) finish. This arch deceived everyone. It is about 50 meters away from the real finish line.


Tinman Splits and Pace


  • Pre-race carbo-load dinner at Little Italy: Chicken Ziti with a Blue Moon Beer.
  • Pre-Race Breakfast: Big bowl of Kellog's Vector. Coffee. Cliff Bar.
  • Bike: 3 gels (5K, 35K, 50K), 1 pack of Cliff blocks (half around 65K, half around 80K) and 1 (540ml) bottle of water. It didn't feel hot, and I wasn't thirsty, the one bottle did surprise me.
  • Run: 1 gel at about 10K, half a pack of cliff blocks, water at every station, it was nice and COLD, PowerAde at 3 stations.
  • Post-Race Dinner: Complimentary BBQ Chicken with a Saranac Pale Ale.

2014 vs 2007
Great improvement!

Looking forward to Cedar Point: promising, very promising. Tupper Lake was a fantastic race for me. I surprised myself. I don't think I could have or would have done anything different.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Preston Street Criterium

Laura prefers biking over running, and biking over swimming. For a while she's been asking to do just a bike race. She's a really strong cyclist. I just happened to get an email about the Preston Street Criterium a couple of days before it was held (last Sunday). The Ottawa bike race is in it's 43rd year, and was offering a competitive race for kids in the 13-14 age group. So we asked her, and of course she jumped at the chance.

The day was a bit longer than we expected. But, we got to watch the entire women's race, the event before Laura's. I have to say, it was fast and furious, and well worth the watch. Much respect for these ladies. Perhaps more-so for the back-end who would yo-yo a bit as the group stretched out, and then eventually fell off the back, but still kept up a high effort to finish. Race speeds were averaging 45kph for the first half hour or so. Very impressive.

Laura's race was called up. The mechanic had locked out her rear-derailleur so she couldn't shift into her lowest gear - a UCI rule apparently. There were about 15 on the line ... but only 2 girls. This was a let down. She was really looking for some competition.  Admittedly, it would have been odd to have a race for just 2 people, but mixing in with the boys, particularly at this age, seemed a tad unfair for the girls.

From the get go, the pace was fast and furious. 3 strong guys were off the front and setting a vicious pace at 40kph. The pack was fractured and in survival mode. Laura was on the back end, but still holding her own.

Laps 1, 2 and 3.... mostly she was still in reach of the fast and the furious. Laps 4 and 5, things were getting spread out. And Lap 6 -- the final lap, was a "Get me to the finish line!!!" kind of lap. She made it. Perhaps a gap of 45 seconds from the overall (male) winner. She was ready to collapse. It's always rewarding as a parent, to know your kid went 100% and poured everything they had into a race, with absolutely nothing left in the tank at the end.

So, at the end, she got second out of the girls. Hey, you can only beat those who show up. Pretty awesome. Her Cornwall Multisport Club kit stood out from the mostly OBC dominated field. She earned kudos and cheers for Cornwall from the announcer on each lap. Glad she had the guts to do something like that -- no way would I ever venture into that ring.

The women's race.

Monday, June 15, 2015

CMC Super Sprint Triathlon

Since moving to Cornwall, our Multisport lifestyle has been amplified. Mostly because of the Cornwall Multisport Club, and the hundreds of like-minded members.

This past Sunday was the CMC's second annual Super Sprint Triathlon - fashioned after the Grand Prix Vegas style races:

Swim - Bike - Run - Repeat 3 times.

The venue was Nav Canada Complex. The swim is in the pool, the bike is 2 laps around the complex (roughly 1km per lap), and the run is just on the grassed area beside the complex.

The pool is a 5 lane, 25 meter pool. The swim starts off time-trial seeded. A swimmer each in lane 1 and lane 3. The gun goes off, you swim up and down in your lane, cross under the lane rope and back up and down the next lane - 100 meters total. Swim starts are staggered 10 seconds.

Next, you hit the transition area adjacent to the pool, mount the bike, and complete 2 clockwise loops around the completely smooth roadway around the building (The entire inside lane is coned-off, so no traffic to worry about). After the second loop, you transition to the run, 250 meters out and 250 meters back.

You're not done yet! You hit 2 tubs of water to rinse off your feet, and back in the pool for round 2... and we do it again... and again... and again. In total 4 sets of high-energy max VO2 fun.

It's a great event, some went all-out, some were out just to have fun, some just to shake off the rust. Of course there was no shortage of post-race snacks and goodies a Cornwall Multisport event is known for. And in true CMC fashion, there were as many volunteers as participants.

Thanks to everyone for helping out, and to all those who participate in these events. Without participants and volunteers, it wouldn't be any fun at all!

Andrew's GoPro Footage.

My final time was 39:55 (4th Overall).

First du with new bike

Not bad. Not my fastest. But still not bad. This was only my 2nd Monday night du of the year, so good to be in sub-53 form so early. The bike split was my 7th fastest out of 76 previous hard-dus, and final time was 6th fastest ever. So not bad. There was a little bit of a headwind on the way out.

Monday, June 01, 2015

May - Big Ol' update

Thirty-eight years from now, when I look back on this blog, I'll probably think nothing happened in the month of May 2015. Well, some things did happen, and here they are:

The Spring Fun-Du (May 5, 2015)
The now annual 2-15-4 spring dust of the rust and give it all you've got duathlon baseline test. Sub-53 would be "Gold Star" standard for me, and was of course the goal... the reality: 53:30. I had a pretty good effort; restrained myself on purpose for the first run (7:58); rode as hard as I could (27:06) on limited bike fitness and then gently came apart on the second run (17:52). Not bad though, 48 seconds faster than the 2012 edition.

All smiles at the end of the Spring Fun Du

Cornwall Lions Club Awards (May 13, 2015)
Guylaine was awarded Triathlete of the Year at the annual Cornwall Lions Club sports awards night. Sweet!

Big Trophy and "Keeper" Plaque

The Victoria Day Chase (May 18, 2015)
This "chase" format race is my annual 5K fitness check-up. More often than not, it is also my reminder on how not to run a race. And this year didn't disappoint. My goal for a 5K race, is always to try and PB, or go as close to 21 minutes as possible. I lined up on Monday morning, fresh as a daisy without having spent any time stressing or planning a strategy. My mind went to mush as I tried to remember what 21minute splits looked like - so when it was time to go, I just ran hard...

... too hard... and naturally blew up. At 3.5K I was cooked and just praying for it to be over. The splits went like this:

SplitLapCumulative PaceProjected Finish

Bleh. Oh well. In retrospect, I should have planned the splits, and taken it easy at the start. But, after all it was just a fun club run.

This run ranks as my 9th out of 16 (hard) 5Ks - sandwiched between the 2010 and 2013 Great Raisin River Foot Races. The good news is that I'm still hovering mid-21s.

A Return to Tupper Lake (May 20, 2015)
We pulled the trigger and registered for the Tupper Lake Tinman Half-Ironman. It was hovering there as a possibility for a while, but I was holding off thinking I wouldn't be bike-ready. Since then we did a few 80K rides and I figured.... why not. June 27 is race-day.
A new family member (May 22, 2015)

A New, New P2 =)

Almost Famous (May 26, 2015)
Upon returning from a night out to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, we were amused to see Facebook buzzing (okay, maybe not buzzing, but a few likes and a share) of an article written on the Barnes Family by Challenge. They had contacted us in April and followed up in May about writing an article on us as they tought the whole family participating at Cedar Point was pretty interesting.

In Conclusion
And finally, just in case (when I look back on this in 38 years), here were the May 2015 training totals:

...and the excuses --- it has been Cold and Windy! Biking has been hit-and-miss; mostly miss - especially Monday night duathlons which were all a miss in May.