Category Archives: Reviews

Gear Review Update: PowerTap(formerly CycleOps) PowerCal

This is an update since my previous gear review post on this product and also the post where I compare the power output versus the Kinetic inRide power. It appears that the PowerCal company is now PowerTap instead of the former CycleOps. The weather has been very conducive to riding outdoors for the last few months, so I really don’t have much data on comparing this device to another power meter. It seems pretty consistent and it is all I have to go by, so for me that works.

cycleopsPowerCal
cycleopsPowerCal

Biking and Power

One area that I do see an extreme difference is when comparing to other riders on equivalent segments in Strava. Below is one example of a speed run segment in my area shown below. My top result is highlighted below in between others for that segment. As you can see for roughly equivalent speeds, I putting out 201 watts compared to everyone else running around 270 to 290 watts. Hmmm? 70 to 90 watts off? Now most of these powers were calculated using Strava’s algorithms, but the entry just above me used an actual power meter of some sort. That power meter seems more inline with what Strava is calculating for others compared to the PowerCal. So again, while the PowerCal is consistent, I don’t believe the accuracy of wattage is very good.

 

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Problems on the Run

I also use my PowerCal for monitoring my heart rate while running. This is one area that I have had the most issue with this product. It appears to “flip out” frequently at different times during my runs. What I mean is that the heart rate just goes crazy and maintains a spiked reasding well outside my max heart rate. The first couple times this happened I kind of panicked at first, thinking I was having a heart attack or something. Eventually I realized it was just the unit. I always use a gel for the contact patches to help eliminate these spikes, but it doesn’t really help. I have also tried new battery, tightening the strap and taking the unit off for a few minutes. The latter seems to have the best affect on resolving the issue. You can see from the heart rate graphs below from my runs what this looks like. The strange thing is that it doesn’t occur on bike rides. It could possibly be from the up and down motion of running.

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2013 Rev3 Quassy HalfRev Race Review

Race Name: Rev3 Quassy HalfRev

Race Location & Country: Quassy Amusement Park, Middlebury, CT, USA

Date: June 2 2013

Race Category: Male 45-49

Why did I do this race? Within driving distance(3.5hrs). Supposed to be a good prep race for Ironman Lake Placid, which I am doing 2 months later. Heard Rev3 races are very well down and organized.

The Swim

1.2 mile clockwise triangle. Fresh water lake swim. Very clean. Running start from beach. Wave start. 2nd leg was VERY difficult to sight due to swimming directly into sunlight. 3rd/last leg was had sun on left side breath, but eventually went behind trees. Buoys good distance apart. Had paddleboarders on inside and kayakers on outside provided helpful to keep straight when I could not sight buoys. This swim was a personal fastest swim for half-iron distance at 32:45 minutes. Also, I was in the very last wave of the race, which kind of sucked. Did a lot of passing all day long.

The Bike

REv3 Quassy Bike Finish

56 miles. Hilly to say the least. I think almost every road had the word “Hill” in it. I really like this course despite the amount of difficulty. I liked the variation of it. With the hills come some very fast downhills too, which you need to take full advantage of. I was a little cautious on some of them since I had not ridden the course before. The one downhill that ends near a reservoir, was a little tricky as it made a right turn at the bottom which forced me to take the turn a bit wide into the opposite lane. The course was not closed to vehicles too, so extra caution is required. There were 2 aid stations on the course the were perfectly placed distance-wise for my hydration needs. I definitely tried to conserve some energy on bike for the run, but still ended up with a 3:11 time(~17.5mph). Considering the ~6400 ft of elevation gain, I was ok with that.

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The RunREv3 Quassy Run Start

13.1 miles of more hills. This run course was brutal! Other than the first mile or two, it seemed to be up and down after that. The worst was the dirt road with what seemed to be an endless hill. This course took all I had and then some. I have not seen that many people walking since volunteering at IMLP last year. Temperature also did not help as it was humid and in the mid-80’s. It  was shady in spots and I am sure if you were either faster or in an earlier wave you may have gotten more of that. Aid stations were pretty much every mile to mile and a half. They even had salt tabs at some of them. They were also well stocked with ice which is usually out by the time last wave people like me come through. At around mile 9 you run by the finish at the park and then head out for another 3 or so miles. While this provides a little boost from fans, it is short-lived as you head away from the finish line. The hills continue too. For future reference, make sure you save a lot of energy for this run. I finished with a 2:05, which considering the terrain, I am more than happy with.

 

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Transition

Transition is probably one of the best I have seen. Each spot is marked with your name and bib # on the wooden framed “racks” on the ground. The frame has a narrow section to stick your rear tire of your bike and a wider section for your bag. Your race gear is then laid out in front of the wood box. It is very clear what real estate is yours and there is adequate room. I was 3 rows from the swim and entrance and run exit which was nice. Bike in/out was a bit of haul, but still not too bad.

Transition Setup

 

Race Organization

Race was very well organized. Venue was a good location base for race, although I had a bit higher expectations for Quassy Amusement Park. I thought it was more along the lines of Dorney Park, but it was basically just a more glorified carnival. Nonetheless, it provided ample room for race expo, registration, store and feeding area.

My one gripe, which is actually a gripe with many races, is the “mandatory” pre-race meeting. First off they are usually Rev3 Quassy Pre-Race Meetingin the middle of the day, which pretty much disrupts you for doing anything unless you are hanging out at the venue which we usually don’t do. The other thing is they are anything but mandatory. No one is checking off your bib # when you show up. I did get some helpful information, but stop with the mandatory crap.

Post-race food was good and they even had a good variety even for a plant-based vegan. Baked Ziti, salad, veggies and another veggie-pasta casserole was all you can eat. They even had veggie burgers, which I would not have know about if not for the girl behind me didn’t not ask. They also had burgers and hot dogs too, for the carnivores.

Top Tips

  • Wear polarized/tinted goggles for swim. Sun on second leg makes for difficult sighting. Use the lifeguards instead of buoys.
  • Be ready for hills. Spin easy gears on the climbs and bomb the downhills. Save your legs for the run.
  • Pace yourself on the run. Go easy, but consistent on the big, dirt road climb and remember there are more hills after that.

How did you do?

I PR-ed at the Half-iron distance with a 5:54:52 on what was an extremely difficult course, so I am pretty stoked about that. This race also gave me good confidence for my upcoming first Ironman at Lake Placid. It is a good test of your fitness for that race. During the run I felt like I was not doing well because it was so demanding, but when it was all over I was very happy with the result.

Rev3 Quassy Finish Photo

Verdict

Great race if you are looking for a difficult and challenging race. Good prep gauge for Ironman Lake Placid. Race is also very family friendly too. Family members are allowed to run down the race chute with you. Amusement park and beach provide additional things for kids to do and they also have other activities such as a glow in the dark 5k and adventure race. Rev3 is a class operation. Look out WTC!

2013 Lehigh Valley Half-Marathon Race Report

The alarm went off at 5AM on Sunday morning. 5AM has become a normal time for me to wake up anymore, even on a Sunday. Today was the 2013 St. Luke’s Lehigh Valley Half Marathon. I had run this race once before, but his time the goal was getting my wife to the finish of her 1st half marathon. A task we thought would not have even thought possible a year ago. Dealing with fatigue issues, she had trouble running a mile a year ago. Well, she could run the mile, but she paid dearly for it afterwards. But through diet and lifestyle changes she has made it through the training, granted a few aches and pains, but today she had the chance to complete that goal.

I had run this race for the first time back in 2010 while on the path to my first olympic distance triathlon. It was a cold, rainy miserable day but I still managed to squeak out a 1:46 half. Today it was really just a Sunday training run for me. I had been running this distance every Sunday for the last several weeks in prep for Ironman Lake Placid, so covering the distance was no different than any other week. It was nice though to be focused on someone else’s goal for a change. Especially for someone that eagerly goes to all of my triathlon events, lasting waiting many hours, for the couple of minutes that I pass by in transition to the next discipline.

Before we knew it was 8:00am and the race was starting at 8:10am. We started to panic a bit. Denise really had to go, so there was not many options for her. We stood there for a few minutes more and then as the other lines next to us thinned out. W could see even more toilets with what seemed to be no lines. I told her to run up there and see and if she was not back in a couple of minutes I would be up. Sure enough, she never returned and I ran up there right into a toilet. Ahhh!

We met up outside the toilets and booked around to the other side of the school. They still had not started and we jockeyed our way right up to the corral we needed to be in. And then the starter said “Go!” Nice timing.

There was a ton of people running and all you could see was a sea of runners filling the street sloping downhill from the starting area. We slowly weaved through the masses until we found an area that was paced similar to us. As we headed out along Cedar Beach, the 5k runners were coming back along a narrow chute bordered by an occasional orange cone. Several half-marathon runners had spilled over into the 5k lane and one 5k guy yelled at HM guy to get out of the way. My manager, Steve, was running in the 5k, so I was hanging by the chute looking for him to come by.  I gave him a shout as he flew by at blazing speed(brown-nosing here 🙂 ) and then blended back into the masses of running to catch up with the wife.

We made a left up Ott St. lined on each side by the pinkish-purple blooming crab apple trees and then another quick left down through Cedar Beach Park. We started settling into a steady rhythm after cresting the little hill on St. Elmo St. I had set my Garmin screen to show average pace for overall, lap and current. All three were showing 9:11min/mi. We maintained that pace for the entire stretch down Martin Luther King Boulevard.

We hit most of the rest stops for water and I ended up getting caught up in one for a bit and had to catch back up with Denise again. The run down MLK Boulevard goes pretty quickly since there is a lot to see. Both directions of runners are utilizing the entire street in a UK driving fashion, so watch the other runners coming the opposite way keeps your mind distracted from the task at hand. There were some people in crazy costumes, fireman in full gear and even a couple people I knew. There are also several bands playing along the way jamming away some pretty good tunes. There was apparently another girl named, Denise, running behind us who apparently knew many spectators. This was driving my wife bonkers since she kept hearing her name called all the time. Before we knew it we were crossing the little humpy bridge at the halfway point and into the gravel paths of the parkway. Time on clock said 1:00, but my watch said 0:59 due to the gun vs. chip time difference.

I run down the parkway pretty frequently, so this is like home sweet home. We continued to tick off the miles still maintaining our 9:10 pace. We hit the hilly section right past the Police training grounds which slowed us down a bit. We did start to pick it up a little bit after the halfway point, but not too much. I told Denise that if she wanted to pick it up more that I would let her set the pace. She indicated a slight niggle in her calf, so she wanted to wait a bit.

As we approached the covered bridge crossing the Little Lehigh Creek there were tons spectators lining the sides of the trail. It was pretty loud. I was scanning the crowd, but didn’t see anyone we knew. We made our way through the covered bridge watching each foot step on the uneven boards comprising the floor.  I mentioned to my wife we had lost some time with the hills and I think that pushed her a bit. We passed a guy singing Bing Crosby-like tunes along the way, which was kind of different from most of the music playing earlier. Jam it dude!

Next thing we knew we were out of the park and back on MLK Boulevard. My wife just got the words out saying “we can up the pace at mile 11” when we rounded the bend displaying the 11th mile marker. I said “Ok.” We than started into the 8-8:30 min/mi range which was actually feeling pretty good. We really started to pass some people as most were starting to fade a bit at the later miles of the course. On girl called out something to the tune of “nice pace” as we buzzed by. It didn’t sink in at first, but then we said “thanks” after we were about 15 yards past her.

2013 Half Marathon Finish
2013 Half Marathon Finish

Next we could hear the thuds of the big drums pounding as we approached the short hill into the stadium. As we got onto the track for our little victory lap to the finish, my wife really started to crank up the speed. So much so that I was caught off guard and had to catch back up with her. She pointed out the finish clock time of 2:01 as we rounded the turn and I suddenly realized we could make it under 2:00 hours. I glanced at my Garmin and it read 1:59:48. I told her to “book it” and that we had 10 secs. We cranked it even more and crossed the finish with arms raised. Unfortunately it was 5 secs shy. Finish time: 2:00:05.

My wife was pretty happy with her results. Her original goal was to stay under a 10:00 min/mi pace which she far exceeded. The best part was that she felt great the rest of the day and even the rest of the week. No soreness or anything. I would say that was probably a bigger goal met than just finishing.

After the race, we decided to skip the race food due to the extremely long line and head down to Allentown Brew Works for lunch. I did have a celebratory IPA, which blew my 80 days of no beer. Oh well, I only had one anyway.

Next week is a race week with my first triathlon of the season. Back to training…

 

 

New Wheels!

I have been toying around with the idea of renting or buying carbon fiber race wheels for some time now. The cost of new wheels being around $2000-$2500 a set has really taken that option off the list, so that leaves either buying used wheels or renting them on race day. Race day rentals are brand new wheels which is nice but changing equipment on race day without having used them before is not something I want to do. That left me with buying used ones.

I had been looking at buying some old Zipp 404 Carbon Clinchers over at Race Wheel Rental for around $1300. This is about half the cost of new ones, but these are older wheels and have some miles into them so that is a little risky. Last month I stumbled onto a sale on Reynolds carbon wheels over at Performance Bike. I did some searching around on reviews and everything I could find was positive. I settled on a Assault/Strike combo, which is a 46mm deep wheel in the front and a 66mm rim depth in the rear. They were on sale for $999(now $1099) and usually listed for almost double that, so I jumped on it. New wheels for less than the cost of new ones…nice! Yeah they are not Zipps, but hey I am not Pete Jacobs either. I think any little bit will help. 2013-03-16 12.15.15

I had the wheels delivered to the local Performance Bike shop and picked them up on the weekend after I ordered them. I also ordered a Shimano Ultegra CS-6700 10-speed cassette to go with it which matches the one on my current wheelset. I picked up the tires, tubes and tools I needed at the store while I was there and my Performance Points added up to cut that bill in half as well. Savings-O-Rama!

I eventually got around to putting things together about a week later. The installation of the cassette was pretty painless, which surprised me since I thought that would be most difficult. Fortunately, Shimano provides instructions which were helpful. Some men do read the directions. The biggest issue was the tubes, mainly the presta valve on the rear tire. See the longest inner tube valve size they had was a 60mm valve and the rear wheel rim depth is 66mm, so you can do the math. To solve the issue Reynolds provides these little black “valve extenders”. The problem is they provide absolutely no instructions on how they work and their website provides no help either. I could not even find a support email address either. I figured out that they screw onto the base valve and extend out where you can put the pump valve on. The problem was the air just came back out again.

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I did some searching on the Internet and found others that had suggested using plumbers tape on the base valve to help make a good seal. The valve insert must be screwed out all the way to let air in. Despite doing this I was still losing air. I ended up emailing Reynolds warranty department and they did respond with some suggestions. They said what I did should work. I left it sit for a while and came back to it again the following weekend. Turns out the tube I purchased had a pinhole in it which was causing the leak! Doh! So I tried again using the 3rd backup tube I purchased and all was good. Ugh!

Next up I had to swap out the standard brake pads for the special, blue colored pads that must be used with Reynolds carbon wheels. This seemed like an easy task, but the little 2mm hex screws kept stripping on me and some I had to use vise grips to get out. I got the rear brake pads on and had to scavenge a screw from my road bike to do so. The front pads were totally hosed up and I left them out. Hopefully they don’t fall out!

I got the wheels on and took them out for a spin around town. I didn’t want to do my full ride on them since I didn’t have a spare tube and my wife(support crew) was working so I didn’t want to be stranded in Kutztown somewhere. The ride around was pretty nice and I could feel the difference already. The weight of the bike itself was substantially lower. I was afraid that crosswinds may cause issue, but I did get to one area where it was totally hitting me sideways and could not feel anything. It was also a very windy day too. Later on, riding with my old wheels actually seemed worse than the new ones.

I ended up tracking down some tubes at TriSports with 80mm  presta valves which may get me some more length. I also found some “deluxe” valve extenders that allow you to remove the valve insert from the original valve and add it to the extender which seems a little more robust. They should be in this week so we shall see how they go.

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The bike portion of a triathlon is the most stressful since it is the longest and has the most chance of mechanical failure. Given my previous experience with this past, I really try to remediate this from happening again. It is one thing when you have to quit due to your body failing, but it totally sucks when your equipment fails.

How To Confuse People About Proper Running Form

 

I was reading through my April 2013 Issue of Triathlete Magazine the other day and came across an article about running form named “Run Like Pete.” As a disciple and practitioner of the Chirunning method, I was pretty eager to read the article. The article was written by Aaron Hersh and it outlined 3 key forms that Ironman World Champion Pete Jacobs identified as the key techniques for proper running form. I totally agree all three of these techniques are the very important things to emphasize in your running practice. The problem I had with this article is that the picture they chose to use to demonstrate these 3 forms. The image shows Pete doing anything but what is defined in the article.

PeteJacobsRun

The article outlines the following 3 techniques for proper running form…

  1. Posture – The article says “stand tall, run proud with your chest up…” While this is great advice, Pete has his head looking down and looks anything but tall or proud here. One of the techniques in Chirunning is to keep your head up looking straight ahead and your posture will follow. I am sure Pete Jacobs typically runs in a correct posture, but could they really not find an image that portrays this?
  2. Foot strike – In the image above, Petes’ foot is extending way out in front of him. This would almost guarantee a solid heel strike unless he pulls it back in at the last minute. His foot is not even close to landing underneath him.
  3. Cadence – Petes’ left arm is extending so far back here and looking anything but relaxed. Short and choppy motion? Not even close again!

Maybe they should have used an image more like this…

 

Being a Chirunning advocate, I find myself constantly analyzing others running styles. This becomes easy to do once you know how it is supposed to look. This picture just screamed to me as soon as I flipped the page. Granted I am always working on my own technique which is much harder for me to see than other people. I am really surprised that no one at Triathlete Magazine saw this conflict, especially the author, Aaron Hersh, who wrote it. For people not familiar with proper running technique this could really confuse them. I am pretty sure that Pete Jacobs does not typically run this way since I saw him at Ironman Lake Placid last year. I am sure he would not want people thinking he runs like this.

UPDATE: Received tweet from the articles author, Aaron Hersh, and he indicated that Pete is actually doing a “stride-out” in that image. A “stride-out” is one of the drills that are mentioned at the end of the article. I still find this to be a bit confusing to people as they would read the article on the first page. Maybe putting a caption under the image indicating this would be helpful.

 

Book Review:A Life Without Limits by Chrissie Wellington


I had been very eager to read this book for some time. So when I recently attended a 3-day training class, which was over an hour drive each way, I thought it was a great time to listen to it on Audible. The book was very interesting from the start. Chrissie had led a very interesting life even prior to her Ironman success. She had struggled with an eating disorder early on and then eventually soared to success in a professional career that was not triathlon-related.

Chrissie is an avid traveler and adventurer which hits close to home with me. That alone was enough to keep my interests in this book. Her early racer career was extremely short and she really skyrocketed to success very quickly in triathlon. Not even just success but total domination really.

The book did get kind of slow for me towards the end as she play-by-played some of her later races. This could partially be because I was already familiar with the stories behind these events, whereas the earlier info was much more new to me. I would question how a non-triathlete person would enjoy listening to this part. Not sure.

All in all I think this is a must-read for anyone looking to get the most out of life, not to mention triathletes. Chrissie has overcome many obstacles and has been successful on multiple fronts. Now that she is retired from Triathlon I am curious to see what new success will be.

 

Geekin’ Out: CycleOps PowerCal vs. Kinetic inRide

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Update 7/12/2013: Please check out my updated review additions to the CycleOps(now PowerTap) PowerCal unit update post here…

I have been eagerly wanting to start training with power, but am too cheap to fork out the big bucks for a PowerTap or a crank-based power meter. Then came the CycleOps PowerCal Power Meter/Heart Rate Monitor. For ~$100 I could have a fairly consistent way to measure way to quantify my rides. I read the review over at DC Rainmakers’ site and was tossing it around for awhile. Then my Garmin “Premium” (HA!) Heart Rate strap totally died on me so I needed a new HR monitor anyway, so I thought for $30 more I would give it a whirl.

At first I had nothing to compare it too, then I ended up bucking up for the Kinetic inRide power meter for my Kurt Kinetic Road Machine Trainer. Kurt claims that the inRide is around +/- 1-2% accurate(not sure where I saw this), so I thought this would be a good unit to compare too.

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I used my inRide on my laptop with the TrainerRoad workouts and then paired up the PowerCal with my Garmin 910xt. This one way to make those winter workouts a little more fun I guess.

As you can see from the table below, that PowerCal has been running about 20-30 watts below my inRide. It seems that it is much lower especially at the higher wattage levels. Despite this I feel it is fairly consistent, especially on a total ride basis. The individual readings on the PowerCal are all over the place, which is also cited in DC Rainmakers’ review as well. But if you assess the total ride wattage it is pretty close.

The PowerCal does not have any input as to the specific riders’ age, height, weight, or sex and calculates strictly on heart rate. It does not peform any type of calibration either. It astounds me as to how they can accurately calculate this very specific measurement with so many unknown variables. Given this it does a really decent job at it. Pretty amazing really.

 

 

I will continue to assess this tool, but it seems like a fairly good tool for measuring an overall ride for the money. I would not count on it for assessing your power output at a moment in time during a ride. The one week I noticed my HR was a bit more depressed training than normal and I did see some of that indicated in the power measurements as well.

TrainerRoad-The Poor Mans’ Computer-Based Trainer

As my training ramps up heading into the Winter, I had anticipated purchasing a new computer-controlled resistance trainer for my cycling. I projected many long, boring hours creating puddles of sweat on the basement floor. In an effort to make that more tolerable I thought a pre-programmed, video –enabled trainer would help alleviate that. Unfortunately, this comes with a pretty large price tag at ~$1600.

While scanning through some past blog entries on DCRainmakers’ site one day I came across a mention of TrainerRoad. You can check out the detailed DCRainmaker review of TrainerRoad here. TrainerRoad is a web-based application that allows you to ride power-based workouts using your standard bike trainer, ANT+ USB dongle, and a speed/cadence meter. There is a small Adobe Air application that you download to your PC/Mac which communicates with your ANT+ dongle and reads in from your ANT+ enable cadence sensor as well as HR monitor. They have profiles for most standard trainers although they seem to be best calibrated with the Kurt Kinetic models. This allows them to estimate your power output which they call “Virtual Power”.

My Dual Monitor Setup

A TrainerRoad account is $10/month and they have tons of different workouts to choose from. It is recommended to first do a test ride to establish your Functional Threshold Power(FTP) and Lactate Threshold Heart Rate(LTHR) zones then all subsequent rides are then based on that value. You should also test every 6-8 weeks to adjust for improvements you have made.

TrainerRoad Intervals
TrainerRoad Intervals on Ride Screen

TrainerRoad also has some base workout plans you can follow which prescribe different workouts each week for a particular time period. You can select a plan based on your level of fitness, goals and time period. I like this feature so I don’t have to sit there sifting through all the workouts on the site, but they do provide a nice filtering capability for narrowing down the type of ride you are looking for.

 

Ride Video Synchronization
Ride Video Synchronization

One of the cool features of  TrainerRoad is the ability to integrate biking videos with some of the workouts. If you filter on “Video Workouts”, you can select a workout that is synchronized with a particular cycling video such as Spinervals or Sufferfest. The videos are sold separately through the appropriate sites and links are provided in the workout description. Pretty cool feature for passing away those hours in the basement.

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TrainerRoad also works well with regular videos on Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, etc. by providing a minimized view that allows the video to take most of the screen real estate. I actually prefer the minimized state better as it is more simple.

If you are looking for a way to make those long hours in the basement go faster and more productive, I would highly recommend TrainerRoad. They are always working on improving the product and new features come out pretty regularly.

 

Race Review: Ironman Muskoka 70.3–September 2012

This review is meant to be a little more focused on the race itself and less on my performance.

ironman-muskoka

Race Name: Ironman Muskoka 70.3

Country: Canada

Date: September 9th, 2012

Race Category: Male 40-44

Why did I do this race?

I wanted a late season race in September with a fresh water lake swim and cooler temps. Thought this would be nice time of year to take vacation in Canada and camp in Algonquin Park the week after(it was!). Smaller size of race entry was also appealing(~1500 entrants).

The Swim

A backwards “P” shape in a clockwise direction. Beautifully clear lake. Water was warm compared to air temperature. Last stretch to shore was shallow and it looked like I could stand up. Was my fastest 1.2 swim to date. Swim exit onto 18th green of a golf course.

The Bike

They call it the “Beauty and the Beast” for a reason. Gorgeous scenery but constantly up-and-down. Single loop. They also extended the distance to 58.4 miles(94k) with oil and chipped climbs in the last 2.5 miles. Hockey nets at aid stations to catch your empty h2o bottles was cool. Great volunteers! My legs were screaming at the end. ~3600 feet of elevation gain over 58.4 miles.

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The Run

Mostly out-and-back, except for slight deviation onto a walking path on the way back. First 3 miles were up-and-down, then a steady, uphill slog to the midpoint turnaround. Then downhill until reaching the walking path that parallels the highway through some fields and woods. Path eventually connects back to highway crossing and pack along initial route. Long downhill and running on shoulder of the road took its toll on my IT Band and I am still recovering. PR-ed the run from previous years’ IM 70.3 in Miami, but I think that was just due to better conditioning. Frequent aid stations. I only take water from these so not sure what else they had.

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Transition

T1 was a “bear.” The hill climb from the swim exit was steep and the distance to my rack was 0.34 miles total. It ended up taking me 5 minutes. It took the top pro males from 2:30-3:00 to complete as a baseline. T2 was pretty straightforward. The run exited out the back of the parking lot, opposite the bike in, and around the transition area. I started heading out the bike in until a volunteer straightened me out. My fault for not researching that better.

Race Organization

TriMuskoka is a top notch race organizer and it shows. Everything was well done and we stayed at Deerhurst Lodge which made race morning so not stressful. Volunteers are great and all the communities come out in full force to support the race. I was really hoping for Ironman Canada to come here, but it went west instead. Even still I would come back here again.

Top Tips

On swim, line up on the inside buoy opposite of what most people typically do. Because the outside buoy was in shallow water everyone lined up there and it was very crowded. I waded to the inside buoy and treaded water(over my head). There was hardly anyone there and I had open water the whole way out to first turn.

On bike, nice and easy. Save some legs for the run. Hard to really get any good rhythm on spinning with all the hills.

Stay at Deerhurst for a stress-free race morning and post-race. Worth the $$.

How did you do?

6:02:55. This was my 2nd completed half-Iron distance race(IM Pocono-DNF and IM Miami-6:08) and I accomplished everything I wanted to. Fastest swim so far. Wanted to finish under 6 hours, which I would have if the bike distance was the standard 56 miles. Wished I could have gone a little faster on bike, but I did save my legs to stay under 2 hours for run. Tore up my IT Band a bit with all the hills and road shoulder camber, which I am still recovering from.

Verdict

Great race! Will definitely consider doing it again. I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys beautiful outdoor scenery and a challenging course. Great community and Algonquin park is not far for any post-race camping vacation. Many good places to eat too with vegan options. Soul Sistas and Three Guys and a Stove were our favorites.

Book Review: Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life by Brendan Brazier

I decided to do a little research on this whole plant-based thing after seeing the movie “Forks Over Knives”. One book that caught my attention was Brendan Brazier’s Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life. The big attraction to this book was mainly that Brendan had been a professional triathlete and endurance athlete. After reading the book, I realized that this book provided much more information than just a triathlete’s experience of a whole foods, plant-based diet. This book has found a home in the kitchen alongside our food processor and other kitchen appliances. The pages are now stained and dog-eared.

The book provides an great amount of information about the types of foods that are important to eat and why their benefits are. Brendan breaks down the different types of stress that we deal with on a regular basis and how a Thrive diet can assist in alleviating those stressors, mostly nutritional stress.  He dissects each type of food or nutrient and explains what each thing provides you nutritionally and how much you need. He has obviously done a lot of research which is clearly evident when reading the in-depth information he provides in a clear and concise manner.

The book gives many examples of why it is beneficial. Some of those ways surprised me and are not that obvious to most people. After a while though it became a bit repetitive and I found myself saying “OK, I sold!” I was sold on the fact that he was a professional triathlete. Although his triathlon resume is not extremely lengthy. But ok, he was still more than fat age-grouper like me.

The other part of the book provides a 12 week meal plan to get you started. All the meals are defined in recipe section. The recipes were very tasty, but a bit off-the-wall. I would have never thought of using some of the ingredients in those ways. He really must have spent a lot time coming up with those. One thing we noticed(my wife started out trying it too) was that the recipes were very heavy in nuts and seeds, which are also have a lot of calories. I was in the middle of my triathlon training season, so it didn’t affect me too much but my wife ended up putting on a couple pounds. So be careful with those if you are not training heavily.

I picked up a copy of Brendan’s other recipe book Thrive Foods: 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak HealthThe recipes in this book are much more “normal” and for the most part less calorie intense. Most, if not all recipes are from different restaurants and other places, which is listed with each recipe. My favorite is the Red Lentil Daal. Together these two books had formed the basis for my inception of a whole foods, plant-based diet and I think are a must-have in the kitchen for anyone eating this way.

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