Saturday, May 30, 2009

Finish Swine

This weekend features the Belle River Triathlon, and the Milton Triathlon.  I will be missing the Belle River Tri this year.  It is my first wedding anniversary with my beautiful wife!, so it will be a fun day spent in Toronto with Bre and Annika.  However, enroute, we will briefly watch David, Brian, and Margaret, climb the infamous Sixth Line hill at the Milton triathlon. 

Travis Goron and Dawn Van Vlack will be participating at the Belle River Tri.  For those not racing, try to come out and support these excellent events.  And after watching the Belle River Tri, head to the Lighthouse Inn Restaurant for some lunch--or use it as a pit-stop on your long bike rides.

The pics below show Margaret at at the Flying Pigs marathon in Cincinnati.  I just love the pic of her sitting minutes after the race.  You can see the sheer delight of having accomplished a BIG goal, and the relief that she can finally rest and not have to take another step.  And that is why we do this.  We live to dream, and we fulfill these dreams.  Onwards and upwards we go....



Do you abide by the Olympic Creed?  The Creed has a permanent inhabitant deep within my coaching philosophy.  Read it again below, and continue to live your own Olympic Games in all of your endeavours in life...

The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." - Pierre de Coubertin

And speaking of the finish line, here is a good article about how the brain regulates exercise pace in anticipation of the finish:

Friday, May 29, 2009

Trojans VS Spartans

The Groomsmen during the morning of the Big Day. Team Spartans (James Loaring, Miro Tot, Rob Tranter) in a relay to the death against Team Trojans (Anthony Paniccia, Scott Schelter, David Sharratt) at the May 31st, 2008 Belle River Triathlon. Videography by Joe Miele.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

American Triple-T Race Report

It has been a few days since my Triple-T adventure. I have had some good sleeps and am no longer sore or tired. That was not the case on Monday and Tuesday when Bre laughed at me as I was walking backwards down the stairs.

After the race I was so sore that Keith jokingly opened the car door for me and helped me in. I have to admit I was such a mess I needed the help! But the body and mind have recovered swiftly and feel great and here I am typing away on what was an amazing, and unique, triathlon experience.

Warning: this will be my longest race report ever! But hopefully others gearing up from this event will find this report helpful. And hopefully those who have experienced this wonderful event will relate to my ramblings dribbled below.

Although I have raced back-to-back triathlons on a couple of occasions, I have never done something as crazy as racing 4 triathlons, totalling longer than an ironman, over 3 days. It was also my first crack at the HIM (half-ironman) distance. So here is my story:

What is American Triple-T?

This event is scheduled for the weekend of May 22nd through 24th, 2009 at the majestic Shawnee State Park and Forest located in Portsmouth, Ohio, just one and half hours by car from the Columbus, Cincinnati and the Tri State Area. The Shawnee State Park and Forest is known for its spectacular beauty, peaceful bliss and a wide variety of recreational activities as it is nestled in the southeast corner of Ohio and Tri-State area.

The American Triple-T Ohio is a unique 3-day, 4-event, long distance format triathlon with participants competing on 2 person teams or in the solo division. This event is unlike any other triathlon and offers participants intimate camaraderie not often found in traditional triathlons.

I decided to enter the solo division. I tried to convince Dave Sharratt to enter as a team with me. He is focusing on short-course racing this year and wisely decided against preparing for this event.

Why did I choose this event? Well the reasons are multi-faceted:
After being immersed for over 15 years in this wonderful sport, I had yet to race anything longer the Muskoka Chase Triathlon (a 2k swim, 55k bike, 15k run). I had been itching to race my first HIM for a few years now, but the timing never seemed right, and short-course racing was, and still remains, my primary focus. I wanted to support my athletes who were using this race as an important weekend of hard training to help prepare them for upcoming ironmans. So i was going to either be there on the sidelines, or as a participant. I wanted a new challenge and this certainly provided one. I knew in the fall of 2008 that motivation to train over the winter would be tough if I did not have a big challenge in the spring. Family and coaching come before training, so I knew that training would always be the first to sacrifice during busy times. With Triple-T on the horizon, it helped get me out the door to maintain a decent level of fitness. I wanted to use Triple-T as an experiment. What a perfect weekend to discover where your limits are, dial nutrition, maximize recovery, push through fatigue, and re-calibrate what is truly hard. I wanted to experience first-hand what it meant and felt like to push through extreme fatigue.

The Adventure Begins

Keith Henry scooped me up in Windsor at 5:30am Friday morning for the 5h30' drive to Portsmouth. We checked into our motel, eat a big lunch, got groceries for the weekend, and had zero time to relax as the Prologue race began at 5pm, and we needed to register and get all our gear set-up. Obviously, if this was an A-priority event, then we would have driven down on the Wednesday and settled and had time to look over the crazy awesome hard course. When we got to the race site, it was awesome to catch up with Jane, John, Dennis, Lindy, and Shelley. All of our spirits were high, and we were excited for the great challenge that lie ahead.

Friday, May 22, 5:00pm
Race #1 - PROLOGUE
250m Swim - 5mi Bike - 1mi Run

I have to admit that I was a bit tired at the start line from the travel and the busy few days leading up to the event. Training was reduced greatly leading up so the legs felt awesome, just a bit of sluggishness from the travel and errands--but I knew I would feel good once the gun started the race. The goal was to make sure I did not go above FTP (functional threshold power) at any point during this event. I failed this goal immediately during the prologue! I made the mistake of getting too caught up in the excitement. I cruised the swim and was surprised to have so much company at the swim exit. Then my main competitors took off hard up the big hill of the prologue bike. You can see the fun bike course below.


I went up a bit too hard and it sure was fun screaming down at 85km/h. Onto the run course it was out and back a half mile on cross-country terrain. I ran a bit too hard and crossed the line within my limits but was probably 1' faster than I should have gone. Although the overall effort was just below`threshold, it was a pace that was maybe a bit too ambitious.

I crossed 4th overall in 21:25. The top 5 across the line earned a 30" time bonus that would be lopped off their overall cumulative time at the conclusion of the event.

I immediately went into recovery mode. Short walk and stretch, followed by ice bath whilst ramming as much food into me as humanly possible. I knew this weekend would be just as much a game of nutrition, as it would be a test of mental and physical will.

Results here

Saturday, May 23, 7:30am

Race #2
1500m Swim - 40k Bike - 6.55mi Run

I did not have a good sleep. I had trouble shutting off the mind--it was overloaded with too much analyzing on what power numbers I should target, should I go mod/tempo or tempo/hard. If I eased back too much on Saturday, would I be able to make up that time in the HIM? Or should I make sure my main competitors are not too far ahead, even if that meant going a wee bit too hard in both Saturday races? Craig Taylor and I brainstormed what it would take to have a good Sunday HIM, and the risks involved if I went too hard in one or both Saturday races. I was surprised at how hard some of my competitors went during the Prologue, and I predicted correctly that this same ambitious racing would continue. Most treat this weekend as a big training weekend. But those who want to win usually are fairly aggressive from the start. In other words, a super fast HIM time might not be good enough for the overall win if one is 20'+ down on the leader starting the race. I decided Saturday morning that I was going to choose the 'hard yard' route. That I was going to stay well within my limits, but error on the aggressive side. Race upper tempo instead of lower tempo. I also knew that this was not the best strategy for producing the fastest cumulative time for all 4 events. But I also knew that if I was no longer in the hunt of the win come Sunday morning, that I would mentally have less incentive to perform a solid HIM, even if I was physically fresher than the leaders as a result of being conservative on Saturday. So I decided that I was going to go for the overall win or blow-up trying. It involved high risk, but, would allow me to discover my current limits. In order to set me up for the overall win, I knew it would mean not throttling back too much on Saturday, and then finding a way to have a good HIM, and particular, a good final half-marathon run.

I felt good in the swim and kept in control. Onto the bike I was 1' down on John Kenney who is one of the fastest swimmers in triathlon. The bike course was awesome and you can see the profile below. What an awesome tough climb at 8 miles, followed by a very technical descent at 14 miles. It was the hardest bike course I have ever ridden in competition. I always thought the Corner Brook Triathlon was a tough bike course. Not even nearly as awesomely hard as Triple-T.


Onto the run. The run was all cross-country on mostly gravel trail. It was starting to get hot out. The legs felt sluggish going up the LONG hill. The profile below shows the long climb and short decent to the 3.25mile mark of the run. Then you turned around a pylon and headed back to the start to make for a 6.55mile run (or ~10.5k). I kept the effort in control going up, but in hind-sight, went way too hard on the down hills. In a race, it is a great strategy to take advantage of the free speed of running down hill. While I made sure to not over stride, I should have throttled down on the long down hill in order to reduce muscle soreness and fatigue going into Sunday.


I crossed the line in 2nd in a historically strong time of 2:10:46. Richard Pady was 1' ahead of me and I considered him my toughest competitor going into the event.

Just like the conclusion of the prologue, I went right into recovery mode. After icing and a feast, Keith and I drove back to the motel to get some AC (it was now 92 degrees out!) and a short recharge nap. Although it was a 25' drive to the motel, I think it was very important to get a cool room and close the eyes and recharge the batteries. I had to chuckle at the crazy notion that we had to race again in just a few hours!

Results here

Saturday, May 23, 3:00pm

Race #3
40k Bike - 1500m Swim - 6.55mi Run


Back at the start line and it was a scorcher. This race we started with a bike on an out-and-back 40k course that featured two big climbs and two big descents. As in the the morning's ride, I felt really good on the bike. My absolute power numbers for the 40k were the same as the morning's bike--in the low 260's. I frequently used my Quarq CinQo powermeter as a guide to ensure that I was not racing too hard. I aimed to ride at HIM bike effort but of course have never raced a HIM before. But I knew that I had to keep the effort well below FTP. I knew the crazy hills and high heat would only add to the fatigue for tomorrow's HIM. So I made sure to not have the wattage spike too high on the big climbs and shorter steep sections. however, my lowest gear was only a 25x39. I had been warned by many that I needed a 27. I had my athletes put on compact cranks for this event. However, I decided going into the event that I would stick with the 25 even though I knew that was not going to be optimal. So for those reading, trust me on this one, you need a 27 for this race. As for wheelset--I did way too much thinking about what would be optimal for this event. In the end, I decided that a Zipp 808 would be best. I really think I made the right choice. It is simply too tough of a course for a disc, and even for a super strong rider, a disc would only add to the fatigue for the run. Plus the cross winds (think yaw) were insufficient to justify a disc and/or 1080. Therefore, for you tri-geeks, go with a zipp 808 or 404 or 404/808 combo. And if you are wondering what my time trial steed was: I rode the Louis Garneau TT8.8 with SRAM Red. I felt really good on it. A big shout out to The Bicycle Shop for their awesome help in setting me up with this awesome steed!

Back to the race!

Got off the bike and was forewarned by many just how tough the swim would be. I made sure to stretch out the calves before getting off the bike. I knew that the fatigue combined with the excessive plantar flexion from swimming front crawl--would trigger the onset of major leg and calf cramps. Therefore it was key to be proactive and invest a few seconds of coasting on the bike to static stretch the legs before the dismount.

The swim was brutal in the first 200m. I could tell that I would cramp if I produced the slightest kick. So it was a very good choice in investing the extra 1' to put on the full wetsuit. Many had told me to do this even though it added extra time. So because the suit was on, my legs pretty just lied died to the world and I focused on a strong catch, and kept my lower core tight so that I maintained a good plane in the water. I ended up having a good swim considering the fatigue. I excited the water with Richard Pady, who rode 1' faster than me. Our look upon exit was priceless, as we both had the exact same issues where a cramp would instantly present itself if you did not exercise patience and caution upon exiting the water. It was therefore a slow walk then jog then trot to transition.

Out on the run, the first k I had a tough time getting going. I stopped to pee and then stretch out the hammies and calves. I had to let Pady go as I did not want to run up that crazy long hill feeling the way I did. So I sacrificed 30" to gently stretch the legs out. It ended up being a good choice, because I starting feeling really good after 2 miles into the run. I caught Pady at the turnaround and then decided to run hard on the long decent to try to put some time into him so that we started the half-ironman with ~ the same cumulative time (he had 1:15 up on me after the first two races). Also, John Kenney was off the front after smashing the swim and bike and I was worried that he would have a big lead going into the HIM the next morning. In hind-sight, I again ran the down hills too hard. This run course is as tough as it gets, and I should have been a bit more patient. I crossed the line in 4th 1' up on Pady, but John Kenney was well ahead crossing in 1st. There was a team that finished just in front of me.

Same story after crossing the line. Eat, ice, eat, eat, eat.

Results here

Back at the motel, the fatigue was starting to hit. I got all my stuff ready for tomorrow. I had an idea of what it would take to win the race. I knew that Pady or Kenney would be the guys to mark. As this point, I was having trouble getting food in. I knew I had to eat eat eat to make sure that I was not glycogen depleted going into the crazy HIM that was about to be tackled hours from now.

Sunday, May 24, 7:00am

Race #4
1.2mi Swim - 55.5mi Bike - 13.1mi Run

Keith and I arrived at the event at 6:00am and we chuckled at how few people were in the transition area. I was VERY tired and knew that everyone else was in the same boat. It really is a unique feeling. We were all walking zombies at this point. You didn't see any nervous energy. Not too much chatter. Most trying hard to stay positive and convince themselves that they can find a way to summon the will to complete a HIM with so much fatigue embedded prior to the start. I tried hard to eat as much breaky as possible but it was tough to force it down. At 8' to 7am, not one person had arrived at the swim start. We were all in slow motion and Champion Race Director Shannon Kurek almost had to call the military to force us to the start. But once the gun went off, my stroke actually felt strong. I made sure to keep as relaxed as possible, and minimize any leg movement. I excited the water in 23:59 and was pleased with the swim. John Kenney crushed the swim, and I immediately focused on a quick T1, and set out on the back trying not to worry about losing more time to him. I knew that he would continue to put time on the bike. But I monitored my power and told myself to be patient. I felt great on the bike and kept the first 20k nice and smooth. I wanted to even split the two-lap 45k bike course. Pady caught me at about 30k. I decided to spike the power a whole 10 watts in order to stay with him. At 70k I was surprised how good I felt. I was actually starting to believe I could have a good HIM and maybe even win the race! But I also knew that the fatigue could suddenly hit me, and I could crash and burn. At 80k up the last climb, the fatigue finally crept in. My quads were tired and struggled getting up the steep climb in my 25x39 (note again: have a 27 as you will need it for this final climb). My back started to tighten up. I spent that last 5k stretching out the calves and back, and trying to rest for what was going to be a tough 21.1k of running. The 2 lap 45k bike course was undoubtedly the most awesome bike course I have ever seen.


Onto the run, I felt good the first k and was starting to think about gradually bringing back the 90" lead that Pady had on me. However, that was short-lived as by 2k, my legs started to struggle up the long climb. By the 2 mile mark, it became clear that the fatigue was very high. By 3 miles, I knew that my quads were complete toast and any chance at winning this race was over. I did not expect to go into survival mode by mile 3! All I can say is that the final 10miles were about the most physically and mentally difficult hard yards of my triathloning. I can't believe how toast the quads were. As hard as the long climb was, the decent made it almost impossible to run. I had to walk down the steeper sections. It was truly a survival to make it to the finish. As a result of my major melt-down, I faded badly from 3rd overall to 21st. I lost massive time on the run to fade from 3rd overall to 7th overall once the final cumulative times were posted.

HIM results here

Total Cumulative Time Results HERE

Major props to Richard Pady for putting together an amazing run to catch John Kenney and seize the overall win. Pady ran 1:28 which is a very fast time on this course. Trust me when I say that a sub 90' half-marathon in this event is very difficult to do.

I was so happy to finally reach the finish line. I was completely exhausted. My legs were so sore. I found a chair and loaded it up with food and parked myself near the finish line in anticipation of welcoming Jane MacLeod, Dennis Masse, and Keith Henry. I was so proud of them--they all had awesome races.

Overall, this was one of the greatest triathlon experiences I have ever had. Shannon Kurek and his awesome HFP Racing Team sure know how to put on a world-class event. This event is truly an epic weekend of training/racing that is perfect for someone preparing for an upcoming ironman.

However, it is back to short-course racing for me! Experiment complete. I learned a lot about pacing, nutrition, and fatigue. It sure helped me re-calibrate what is hard and what is really HARD. I am not sure when my next HIM will be (possibly as early as Muskoka 70.3), but whenever it is, I look forward to being semi-tapered and feeling fresh at the start line. I would love to one day race a sub 4h HIM on a very fast course (such as Clearwater) and think that is realistic. Will I ever do this awesomely hard crazy Triple-T adventure again? Well the fatigue and pain is still fresh in my mind so it is still too soon to say. However, if I do, that it will be as a team. And Mr. Pady and I have already discussed joining forces and becoming allies...

Jane and John at the awards. Jane won her division!

3h after the HIM and STILL standing: Dwayne, Jane, Richard, James, John, Dennis, and Keith.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Triple-T Update

The race website states:

Two time Solo Champion, Gordo Byrn, described the last day of the American Triple-T Ohio as the most difficult course he’d ever been on in his career. Take his word for it.

Wow that was very very very tough.  I raced for the win and was reduced to carnage a few k from the finish.  I absolutely crumbled to 7th overall and the last few k were all about putting one foot in front of the other to get to that finish line.  Now I sit in the hotel room and I fear walking down the set of stairs to get to the car to begin the trip home...

A full race report is worthy of this amazing event.  Despite the big blow-up, I am still very pleased with how I raced.  I swam and biked well, hit the nutrition the best I could and thought I paced well.  I suppose in hind-sight the odds were stacked against me to race a good first HIM at an event like this with a unique fatigue at the start line.  While the sane thing would have been to be very patient and 'sally sandbag' the first 3 races to set up for much faster HIM, I knew that it would have been too much time to try and make up.  So I opted the hard yard route, embraced the risk, and went for the win, and then paid a terrible price.  Props to Pady for taking a huge win.  Major props to Shannon Kurek and his amazing organizing team.  This race truly lived up to all the hype.  Team LPC did very well.  Jane MacLeod dominated her division and won all 4 races!  Dennis and Keith executed perfect pacing and had a great final race.  Those buggers are really enjoying seeing me in the mess that I am hehe.  It is not fair that they raced hard and still have a bounce in their stride and I am in a state of neuromuscular bankruptcy.  more in the coming days...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Wow, it sure has been an eventful couple of weeks!  And this weekend is another BIG weekend.  I leave shortly for Windsor, and then off to Shawnee State Park in Southern Ohio to tackle the infamous American Triple-T Triathlon.  I fully anticipate this weekend to be one of the most gruelling weekends of my life.  I can say with certainty, that I am looking more forward to this race, then any race that I have ever participated in thus far.  Training has gone well at the PTC the past month, so now it is up to me to almost die trying to finish Triple-T. 

A quick recap of what has been a wonderful couple of weeks:

Saturday May 16 was the New Hamburg 7mile and 3k run race.  It was Annika's athletic debut!  Annika raced the 3k with Breanne, Janet, and Maverick.  Dave and Brian raced the 7mile.  Maverick outkicked Janet, Bre, and Annika, but Annika was still the star of the show.  David and Brian both ran very well.  Dave took the overall win!  ReadyForWar

Here is Annika showing off her game-face and getting ready for war.AnnikaChip

Post-race shot of BJAM.  NewHambergFinished

Champion! Hardware

The following day was a special day, not only because it was Mother's Day, but because it was Annika's Dedication.  Mother's Day is an emotional day for me, having lost my dear mom to breast cancer over 5 years ago.  However, I found comfort in being surrounded by such amazing people.  I am a lucky man to have the best mother-in law in the world, to have a wonderful wife (who is now a mom!), to have a precious adorable baby girl, and to have amazing family and friends.  BreAnnika
Our closest family and friends all congregated at BJAM house, the Salvation Army Church, and Janet and Brian's, for a packed day of celebration.  I eat so much food that I starred at the ceiling all night.  Annika slept 12h non-stop after her BIG weekend.  Imagine that, after 7 months, she has her first huge continuous sleep, and I did not sleep a wink.dedication

Major Abbott and Annika conducting the service.Podium

The god-parents Steph Neil and Miro Tot.Godparents

This past Monday was the Victoria Duathlon.  Dave had a huge performance and won for the third year in a row.  It was really nice conditions, and I had a blast cheering everyone on.  Annika got to fly across the line with the help of her favourite uncle.AnnikaFinishWithUncle

Her is Brian about to start the bike.  He also had a great race!BrianBikeFinish

That is it for now.  I look forward to Triple-T this weekend.  In addition to racing, I am so excited to help cheer on LPC's Dennis Masse, Jane MacLeod, and Keith Henry.  LPC 'alumni' Shelley McKee is also competing.  So stay tuned for a Triple-T update(s) OR just one long report after I have recovered from exhaustion...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Beginner Tri/Du Clinic Thurs May 21

Attention Essex County Triathletes:

Info from John McKibbon, Race Director of the Windsor Triathlon:

On May 21st at 6:30 PM we will be hosting a training session at Ciociaro Club for anyone that wants to learn more about training for a triathlon or duathlon. The Running Factory along with Ambassador Bicycles will be hosting along with support from the Windsor Triathlon. This training session will focus on training tips and we will run everyone through a run bike training session. While this training session will help people prepare for our Belle River race we plan on conducting more of these clinics in June and July if enough interest is shown at this session. Please bring equipment such as running shoes, your bike and helmet etc.

I will be at the Ciociaro Club (aka "the Chooch") and look forward to sharing tips on each discipline, and demonstrating ways to cut time in the transition area.  And the Chooch offers gourmet pizza on Thursday!  There is NO COST or RSVP required for this clinic.  Just show up with your gear and smile.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Another Friday Done and Done

Craig Taylor is not just a talented coach--he can also put together a video while simultaneously coaching, driving, and drinking coffee.  I just got back from an epic morning in New Hamburg.  But no time to talk about this morning, because in 1h several friends and family will begin to trickle in.  It is a BIG weekend here at BJAM house.  Annika is having her dedication tomorrow!  So stay tuned, lots to report on regarding this weekend and the past week...and in the meantime, here is a video by CoachCT that shows yesterday's training--a typical Friday at the PTC...enjoy!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

An Olympic Legend Inspires Proud Memories

The latest issue of Windsor Life Magazine arrived today. A feature article by Kevin Shea focused on the athletic accomplishments of Johnny Loaring. The article was written to help promote the upcoming 80th anniversary of The Hon.W. C. Kennedy Collegiate Institute.

The cover of the magazine provides the caption:

A Salute to John Loaring
An Olympic Legend Inspires Proud Memories

Click the image below to take you to Windsor Life's virtual magazine, and then type "22" in the page box to take you to the beginning of the article:

by Kevin Shea, Windsor Life Magazine, May/June 2009, Pages 22-25

07-05-2009 9-16-08 PM

Friday, May 1, 2009

Running From Cancer

Maria Eid and Shelley McKee help organize an outstanding running event that helps raise funds for cancer research. 

Running From Cancer 5k, 10k and Half Marathon
7:00am, Tecumseh, Ontario, July 26th, 2009
Kids 1k and Dash starts at 9:00am

From Shelley:

Hope you all can come out and join us in a fun pasta night June 3/09 at the Ciociaro Club that is involved in raising funds for the Running From Cancer race.

The proceeds directly go to The Windsor Regional hospital (Oncology Program) and Windsor Regional Cancer Centre.

This year there will be special Disney Characters there visiting, so bring the kids out to enjoy meeting them.

For further details, visit:

Thanks for your support!