This August, I will be participating in 2010 Tour for Kids Ontario, a challenging cycling adventure comprised of cyclists, cancer survivors and volunteers. Together, we will cycle hundreds of kilometers over 2 or 4 days, raising funds and awareness for children living with and beyond cancer. (I’ve signed up for the 4-day epic, planning 160km each day, and likely 200km a couple days).

The Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation is a primarily volunteer based organization that supports the three amazing and necessary children’s cancer camps in Ontario: Camp Trillium, Camp Quality and Camp Oochigeas. 100% of every dollar raised goes directly to these wonderful camps!

Please help me reach my fundraising goal and give these courageous children and adolescents the opportunity to attend year ‘round camp programmes.

You can make an instant and secure online donation by clicking on this link:

For more information on how YOU or a friend can participate in 2010 Tour for Kids Ontario, as a cyclist, volunteer or a sponsor, please visit the Tour For Kids website at

Thank for your generous support!


Spring is Almost Here!

Wow… it’s been while since I’ve posted on here. For a variety of reasons (work, health) I didn’t do any tris at all in 2009, or much racing in general. I did manage to squeeze in an old favourite of mine in October, the Niagara Falls Half-Marathon. I hadn’t trained too much, so was happy to pull out a respectable time (for me, anyway).

With the great weather we’ve had here in Toronto over the past couple weeks, I’ve been out running a few times and have started to think of the 2010 season. I’m again likely not going to get into too many tris, since getting to the pool has become a bit of a hassle (or that’s my excuse, anyway).

I have made a committment to a few friends to join them for a great weekend of cycling in the Tour for Kids in August (four days, 100 miles or more each day). I’ll post the link to our sponsorship page once I get registered. I’m also thinking of heading to Niagara Falls again in October, though this time I may do the marathon depending on how I feel about long training runs in August and September.

Depending on how I feel, I may squeeze in a few other smaller events, though we’ll see how the summer schedule works out… hopefully the warm weather comes around for good soon, I’m looking forward to getting out more on the bike!

On Sunday I was back in Peterborough for another shot at the half-Ironman. Two years ago, I was crushed by the swim and bike, cramping up very badly just a kilometre into the run. My training this year has been much more focused and consistent, and despite struggling in Muskoka a few weeks ago, I felt confident heading into this race.

Race day promised to be another hot one, with temperatures forecast for 30 degrees and the sun shining all day. Departing from the tradition of camping at the race site, I decided to get up early and drive up. It worked out well, as I was at the race site by 6:10am, and managed to get myself a prime spot at the end of the bike rack. I had plenty of time to get setup, get in a short bike run, a run warm-up, and down to the water to swim a couple hundred metres before the race started. It was nice to be relaxed and not rushed, and I felt ready to go as we lined up for the 8:00am start.

SWIM: 2km – 35:54 (1:48/100m)
17/50 M30-34, 109/471 Overall

My swimming has come a long way in the past couple weeks, and this was a personal best swim pace. I finished the first 1km loop in just under 17 minutes, and felt strong right through the second lap. I came out of the water at around 35 minutes, and running up the beach, had the girls cheering me on. My friend Blair was racing with me, and he is typically a couple minutes faster than me on the swim. I was shocked when I heard them say “Come on Dan”, immediately followed by “Let’s go Blair”. I looked back and saw that I had beat him out of the water – a nice way to start the day!! On the run up the beach however, I started to feel some twinges of cramping in my hamstrings – not a good sign at that point in the day! Blair and I went into T1 together, and after a quick transition, I was off on the bike.

BIKE: 90km – 2:34:32 (34.9 km/h)
10/50 M30-34, 68/471 Overall

Despite the soreness in my legs from the swim (still got to figure out why that happens), I managed to quickly get my breathing under control and settled in on the bike. On my training ride in Peterborough a few weeks ago, the wind was pretty bad, but I could tell within the first few minutes on the bike that we were going to have a nice, calm day for the ride. After my poor performance on the bike in Muskoka, I wanted to see what I could do, and kept up a solid pace. I hit the turn around averaging about 36.5 km/h, and knowing that the second half was a little harder, still figured I could fairly easily finish the ride with a 34km/h average. Around the 60km mark, with my average still hovering just over 35km/h, I began feeling the beginning of quad cramps in my legs. I backed off a little, and managed to cruise back into the transition with a very respectable bike split. I was surprised to see only about 10 bikes on the racks, and figured I was on pace for a sub-5 hour time.

RUN: 21.1km – 1:56:16 (5:31/km)
23/50 M30-34, 160/471 Overall

Running has typically been my strong suit, and during training the past few weeks, I have felt very fast on the run. I pushed through the first two kilometres in just over 9 minutes, but then started to feel my old friend the “quad cramps” setting in. Despite changes in my nutrition strategy on the bike, including more electrolytes, I still suffered badly from the swim and ride. By the 5km mark I was walking for a minute through the aid stations, and around the 8km mark my hamstrings started cramping up. At the 11km mark, I needed a 48 minute 10km for a 5 hour time. I gave it everything I had for about 2km, but pretty much blew up with 8km to go. The rest of the run was a painful jog, walking the aid stations. I had put some distance between myself and Blair on the bike, but knew he was gaining on me. At the final turn around with less than 2 kilometres to go, I could see he was less than a couple minutes behind. I dug down again and finished strong to break 5:10, and finish about two minutes ahead of Blair. It is amazing how close we end up, considering that over a 5+ hour race we were less than two minutes apart!

Final: 5:09:28 – 19/50 M30-34, 102/471 Overall (Full Results)

I was pretty happy with my performance, especially with the swim and the bike. It was nice to see that the work I have put in on both paid off in some faster times at both, and overall, I was close to 20 minutes faster than the last time I raced here in 2006.

I was disappointed with my run, because I am a much stronger runner than I showed. I’m trying to figure out why I cramp so badly getting off the bike – that hasn’t happened to me in my training rides. I am leaning towards blaming my swim technique, since the swim is the only addition to the day than my long brick workouts. Even coming out of the water, I could feel the tightness and soreness in my legs. I’ll have to work on loosening things up in the pool over the next little while, and hopefully that will help me to be able to put down a little better run split next time!

I haven’t sorted out my race schedule for the rest of the summer, but hopefully I’ll be able to fit in another half-Ironman and see if I can get even faster!

Peterborough Half-Ironman This Weekend

Well, race week is finally here. Seems like it sort of came up out of nowhere, but it’s already early July, and it’s time for this year’s big race, the half-Ironman in Peterborough. I actually followed a training program this year, and have spend the last 20 weeks getting ready for this. I didn’t have a great race a couple weeks ago in Muskoka, but hopefully have sorted out some nutrition and will be good to go!

I’m really taking it easy this week as I taper down, did a short 5km run yesterday, and hit the pool today. My run was so-so yesterday, but I felt great today in the pool. I have maybe once swam a 1:30/100m in the pool, but managed to rip off my last four 100’s in 1:28, 1:30, 1:32, 1:30 (with about 30 seconds rest) today. I couldn’t believe it on the first one, but it seems like something is finally starting to click in the pool. We’ll see how it works out on Sunday, but hopefully it is a sign of good things to come!

Muskoka – Pre-Race Nutrition Woes!

On Sunday, I was back in Muskoka for my first triathlon in over a year, the popular and challenging Muskoka Long Course event. With a 2km swim, 55km ride, and 15km run, I was planning on making this a tune-up for my upcoming half-Ironman in Peterborough. I had been feeling good about my training, and was hoping to significantly improve on my 2006 race here.

We headed up to Muskoka on Saturday afternoon, and into mistake number one: camping in Arrowhead Park, about a 15 minute drive into town and to the race location. Why mistake number one? The mosquitos. Within about two minutes of getting out of the car, I had bites all over the place.

After setting up camp, we headed into town for dinner and mistake number two. This one was East Side Mario’s, and the all-you-can-eat bread and salad. The pasta dish likely would have been enough, without a few extra helpings of bread and that last salad.

Morning came quickly, and mistake number three: bagels for breakfast. I was completely stuffed after a Boost, banana and whole wheat bagel with peanut butter. Too much – I could feel it sitting in my stomach as we made our way to the race site. Not to mention we were late leaving, and had to rush around to get setup and down to the swim start.

SWIM: 2km – 39:38 (1:59/100m)
30/60 M30-34, 232/778 Overall

I have been swimming a lot this winter, and had consistently been around 36 minute pace on my long swims in the pool. During the swim, I felt pretty good, and passed a lot of people from the wave ahead of me. Coming out of the water though, I was pretty disappointed with my time, as I had been hoping for something faster. Looking at the results though, my swim was a lot better than I realized at the time. In 2006, I was 49/57 on the swim in my age group, and 542/745 overall. So relative to everyone else, it was a pretty good day in the water for me.

BIKE: 55km – 1:47:37 (30.7 km/h)
34/60 M30-34, 315/778 Overall

T1 is where all my mistakes caught up to me. I got to my bike and had this sudden urge to toss my cookies (or bagel, in this case). I felt horrible. I took a few seconds to catch my breath, and slowly left the transition. The feeling didn’t pass, and I ended up spending the first 15-20km on the bike spinning along slowly, almost stopping to try to throw up every two minutes. I have been hurting a lot in races before, but had never been sick like this.

About halfway through the bike I started to feel better, got a little pissed off with all the people passing me, and picked it up to turn in a middle of the pack bike ride. My cycling has been strong on my training rides lately, and I had been hoping to really have a good ride, but I definitely learned a thing or two about how not to eat before a race on this one.

The bike course was extremely challenging – lots of steep hills and some technical twisty sections. It was also pretty dangerous though – the roads were in very rough shape! I lost a water bottle after hitting a pothole, and I wasn’t the only one – the course was littered with water bottles, spare tubes, and toolkits. I saw a few people bloodied up from crashes – I wasn’t the only one having a rough day on the bike!

RUN – 1:09:59 (4:40/km)
22/60 M30-34, 182/778 Overall

After my swim and bike ride, I was pretty demoralized, and started to shut it down a little. I had been aiming for a 1:05 run, but just didn’t have it mentally. My legs actually felt pretty good most of the run, but I couldn’t bring myself to push it harder. Despite bettering my 2006 run time by over 6 minutes, I was still disappointed.

Total – 3:40:26, 32/60 M30-34, 216/778 Overall (Full Results)

Overall, I was a pretty disappointed with my results, mainly because I had set higher goals for myself this year. On reflection, I had a pretty decent swim (for me), though I was unhappy at the time. The ride was a real letdown, and by the time I got to the run I didn’t have the motivation to push. This was a great learning experience for me about the mental aspects of this sport – hopefully next time I’m having a bad race I’ll be able to dig a little deeper and push it a little harder. I also am going to change up my pre-race nutrition a little, eat a little less and stick to stuff I normally eat on the mornings of workouts.

On the bright side, slacking off in the race has left me feeling relatively fresh for training this week! Three more weeks of training and then off to Peterborough for the half-Ironman!!

Race Season is Just Around the Corner!

It’s now almost mid-June, and with it came our first taste of the summer heat here in southern-Ontario over the weekend. I was out on the bike for a 4 hour, 110km-plus ride on Saturday, and sure felt the heat. We had made the trip up to Peterborough to get in some practice on the bike course, and it was an almost identical day to race day a couple years ago when I got destroyed on the bike ride. Hot, humid, and a strong wind blowing from west to east, making for a brutal second half of the ride. I think I’ve learned that one key to a good bike split on the course is to take advantage of the wind when you have it. There were a couple flat stretches where I had a tailwind and I managed to keep it over 50km/h for 2-3km. Definitely helped bring the average speed up! On the flip side, there were some downhills heading into the wind where I had to pedal hard to hit 30km/h.

I’ve been training pretty hard the last couple months, and am actually feeling fairly strong on the bike. We’ve been doing lots of long rides, and I definitely have learned a thing or two about nutrition since the last time I did this race. One of the keys for me is adequate electrolyte replacement. It’s great that the PowerGels now contain extra sodium, and I drink mostly eLoad while I’m riding. I’m hoping that this change in nutrition, plus sticking with a little more intense training plan will pay off come race day in a little over three weeks!

This weekend is my one and only tune-up race for the half-Ironman, the Muskoka Long Course triathlon. With a 2km swim, 55km bike ride, and 15km run, it is a great distance to stretch things out and see where I’m at. It’s also a fun race to be at as it attracts a lot of the top pros – pretty cool to see them powering across the finish line. I’m looking to significantly improve on my 2006 performance here – check back on Monday for the race update!

There was an interesting article posted on this week, Maximizing Economy: An Essential Parameter for Triathlon Success. The key point in this article is that in addition to increasing aerobic capacity and your lactate threshold, triathlon training should also focus on improving efficiency – being able to move at the same speed but with less effort, using less energy and allowing you to keep up a faster pace for a longer time.

The author goes on to provide a number of tips on how to improve cycling efficiency, mainly, finding an optimal cadence, and ensuring proper positioning on the bike. It was interesting that this author quoted studies that show a relatively lower cadence (~70rpms) tends to be more efficient than higher cadences. As always though, the key is to find the optimal cadence where we are able to produce the most power for the least amount of effort. Guess I’ll need to get a power meter sometime soon!!

Anyway, some interesting stuff, check it out.

Triathon Swim Training Video

I was doing some searching on YouTube for some swim training videos. Came across this one that seemed pretty good, the coach broke the stroke down into five “keys” to look for:

  1. Hand position entering the water: want hands entering at 1 and 11 on the clock.
  2. Hand glide position: focus on getting a glide with arm outstretched.
  3. Kick: Keep legs straight, kick from the hip.
  4. Stay long in the water: reduces drag and helps apply force with the pull.
  5. Hand exit position: finish stroke strong, pull hand out at lower part of hip, not at the waist.

Hopefully this helps. I know these are good pointers for me to keep in mind!

Sample Training Week for Half-Ironman Triathlon

As I mentioned in a recent post, over the last few weeks I’ve started getting ready for the upcoming triathlon season, and am focusing on preparing for the Peterborough Half-Ironman on July 6th.

I have been following a slightly modified training program from Triathlete Magazine’s Week By Week Training Guide. This is a great book, as it contains programs for any distance of triathlon (from sprint up to Ironman), and for any level (there are 10 different programs for each distance). The programs vary based on your skill level and time available for training.

I am currently on Week #7 of the 20 week training plan, and decided to try Level 5, which is for somewhat competitive people who don’t have a huge amount of time to train. I thought it would be interesting to share how my week shapes up (Source: Triathlete Magazine’s Week by Week Training Guide).


Swim – Base Intervals (6×100) + Swim Sprint Intervals (11×25)
Bike – Short Hill Climbs (11 x 1 minute climbs, 80 minutes total)

Run – Speed Intervals (13 x 30 seconds, 52 minutes total)

Brick Workout: 1 hour bike, 30 minute run

Bike – Foundation Ride (90 minutes)
Swim – Fartlek Intervals (6 x 150 build / descend, 1900m total with warm-up and drills)

Bike – Long Ride (2 hours 15 minutes)
Run – Foundation Run (35 minutes)
NOTE: I will break these workouts up into morning / afternoon

Swim – Base Swim (1500m continuous)
Run – Long Run (1 hour 5 minutes)

There you have it. Assuming the swim workouts take me an hour, it’s about a 12 hour training week with 3 swims, 3 bike rides, 3 runs, and a brick workout. It’s definitely more volume than I have done in the past, and hopefully I’ll see the payoff come July!!

Plan Running Routes and Calculate Running Distances Online

While I’m on my training runs, I like to know what sort of pace I’m running and, which when combined with my heart rate, tells me if I’m working hard enough, or too hard. I’m not lucky enough to own a GPS-enabled watch, so I’ve had to resort to other methods to tracking my distance on the run.

Early in my running career, I used to get in the car and drive my regular routes, which gave me a good idea of the distance. Not to mention being environmentally unfriendly, the big problem with this method was that a lot of my runs included trails and off-road areas. While I was tempted to try to drive these routes too, I figured the chances of my little Japanese-made sedan surviving the bumps and hills were pretty low, so I settled for taking a guess. 🙂

A couple years ago, I found a great website which let me plan and and calculate my running routes online. Check out:, a nice, easy to use program that lets you plot a series of points. It is built on top of Google Maps, so the interface might be familiar. You can use the Satellite and Hybrid views to zoom in to street level, and for most major cities, the resolution gets high enough that you can even follow your favourite trails through the woods! I also try to make a mental note of where the kilometre markers are located (or mile markers, if you prefer), and use these to help work out my pacing on the run.

This little tool ( has been a great benefit to me over the last couple years, so if you’re looking to calculate how far you are running, check it out!!