Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Come Back

Just like any sport Triathlon has a lot of ups and down. You really do not know what will happen in a race. As professionals we prepare as best as we can for all kinds of situations, but at the end of the day a race is a race and anything can happen.

The first race I competed in this year was Oceanside 70.3. I was very anxious to start the season off on a good note. I raced well at Oceanside last year and had spent some time in California preparing for the race. It was a strong field of athletes and I was looking forward to testing myself.

As I prepared my transition area it was nice to catch up with a Trevor Wurtele who was raking his bike next to mine. As much as it is serious business out on the racecourse I am very good friends with some of my competition.

I lined up in a good position and was in contact with the leaders at about the half way mark of the swim. But eventually the group pulled away and I had to fend for my self for the rest of the swim. I entered transition about 1min and 40 second down from the leaders, which was about 20second faster than I had been last year.

The bike was very interesting. I could see the group up the road and tried desperately to work my way up to them. As the race went on the top cyclists like Sebastian Kienle and Lional Sanders went past me. I focused on riding my own pace and having a good run. But sadly as I rounded the last corner in the bike a photographer was on the course and took me out. That was the end of my day with the bike broken and I had lost too much time to continue.

For the next two weeks I had to get everything sorted out for the next race. I did my best to keep a positive attitude. My amazing, bike shop Caledon Hills Cycle had me back on a bike in three days. Once that was in place I just had to make sure my body was recovered and ready to race in New Orleans 70.3.

One week out from New Orleans I started to feel better. I was able to do a few fast run workouts and swim properly. I was ready to make a little come back.

The race at New Orleans was flat and windy they were registering wind up to 37kph on the course. This was going to change the day. In the swim the start was a mess since the gun went off as we were lining up. I put in a hard swim in some very choppy water but came up short off from where I had wanted to, about 2:30 down from the leader and in 9th place.

I quickly got into a grove on the bike it was an out and back course with a head wind the whole way out. I was able to push a higher power going out and work my way into 4th position. On the way back home I just put my head down and road with the wind getting up to 60kph on some sections. I did not see TJ Tollakson on the side of the road with a flat tire. So, as I entered into transition I thought I was still in 4th but in reality I had moved into 3rd.

I could see Matt Chrabot 2min up the road from me and new he was my target. I had no idea how far away Andrew Starykowicz was so I just focused on catching Chrabot. The run was an out and back as well but this time it was a tail wind going out and head wind as we returned to the finish line. I slowly brought back Chrabot one-step at a time and by the10km I had passed him. Starykowicz was about a mile ahead at the half way mark. 

On the way back to the finish line and into the wind Chrabot clawed his way back to me and sat on my shoulder. I led the rest of the run just steps ahead of him thinking, this is going to come down to a sprint and I need to be prepared for it. We both were slowly gaining on Starykowicz but he had built up such a lead on the bike that he was out of our reach. 
Kilometer after Kilometer went by and Chrabot was still there. As we came into the last Kilometer of the race it was show time, with about 800m to go I put in a massive surge and broke away from him. As I entered into the last few meters of the run Chrabot was nowhere to be seen I had dropped him and put just under a minute between us. 

I am very happy with this result after the tough couple of weeks I was able to get the job done. 

Thank you to the Triathlon Squad, C3KineticoRoyal ContainersCaledon Hills CyclingSauconyBlueSeventy, Compressport, SMITH Optic, Vorgee, Polar, Riplaces, TrueStart, my parents and Friends, for making this happen.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The benefits of Coffee

A lot of use love coffee and we must have in the morning. But did you know that the caffeine in coffee could give you a performance boost. At the right levels, caffeine can improve your training and races. There are three proven advantages that caffeine has:

-Improving focus & mental performance
-Increasing physical endurance
-Reducing rate of perceived exertion

But there has also been studies done that show caffeine can help you recover. I will get into that later on.

To have these effects on your body the caffeine levels must be correct and taken at the right time. The right amount of caffeine is different for every person. But studies have shown that 2-3mg per kilogram of body weight is optimal for sports performance. Having too little caffeine won’t impact your training at all, but most of us are familiar with the side effects of having too much. For this reason it is important to track the amount of caffeine you are taking in.

I personally like to use caffeine pills before a race because I know the exact level. I will be trying a new kind of coffee called TrueStart coffee that gives you the caffeine levels in your coffee. Since it is very hard to know how much Caffeine you are getting in a cup of coffee there are just so many variables like the type of bean, the roast, altitude, the weather, and more. It gets even more complicated when it comes to roast and ground coffee.

Caffeine takes about 45 minutes to fully be absorbed and has a half-life of 5.7 hours. I personally like to take my caffeine about 1 hour before I workout or race to make sure it has settled in.

There are two tips of Caffeine.

Type 1 – Synthetic Caffeine
-Found in traditional energy drinks, gels and pills
-The great thing about synthetic caffeine is it is regulated, so you know how much you are taking in
-Synthetic caffeine is it gets absorbed through the digestive system much faster than naturally occurring plant caffeine .
-Synethic caffeine options also tend to come hand-in-hand with extra sugar
(TrueStart, 2016)

Type 2 – Natural Caffeine
-Caffeine is naturally found in coffee, tea, cocoa and approximately 60 other plant species
-The great thing about natural caffeine is it gets slowly released into the bloodstream, providing more sustained energy
-Natural caffeine is it is unregulated, so you don’t know how much you’re getting. A single cup of coffee can vary from less than 20mg to over 300mg caffeine.
(TrueStart, 2016)

Caffeine has also been shown to help with recovery. The study was conducted on seven high-level endurance cyclists who partook in four sessions.

‘Glycogen, the muscle’s primary fuel source during exercise, is replenished more rapidly when athletes ingest both carbohydrate and caffeine following exhaustive exercise, new research from the online edition of the Journal of Applied Physiology shows. Athletes who ingested caffeine with carbohydrate had 66% more glycogen in their muscles four hours after finishing intense, glycogen-depleting exercise, compared to when they consumed carbohydrate alone, according to the study, published by The American Physiological Society.’ (Hawley, 2008)

The study used very high levels of caffeine to get these effects, 8 mg per kilogram of body weight. That is about 5-6 cups of strong coffee. Further research is needed to see if lower levels of caffeine have similar effects. But any reason to have another cup of coffee right.

Hawley, John A. (2008). The American Physiological Society.

(2016). TureStart.