Monday, December 22, 2008

Tri - ing Times - What's in a Name?

What's in a name? A lot of you are a triathlon shop or a business working within the sport of triathlon!

Perhaps I should have put a bit more thought into the title of my blog - but I have always been a fan of the silly pun. I could not resist - so Tri . . . This! :)

Puns aside - maybe the whole Tri thing has been done to death, but then again maybe not. There are currently fourteen, of our Nineteen dealers( that's Nineteen's dealers, not that we have nineteen dealers - we actually have 65 dealers in total!!) who use some variation of the word Tri in the name of their stores - there's three in Canada and eleven in the U.S. :

Trysports - Parry Sound, ON
Tri It - Calgary, AB
Tri-All- 3 Sports - Vancouver, BC - Santa Ana, CA
Tri Buys - Irvine, CA
Tri On The Run - Houston, TX
Tri Running and Walking - Victor, NY
Tri Speed - Timonium, MD
Tri Zombies - Manhatten Beach, CA
Triathlete Sports - Bangor, ME
Tribe Multisport - Phoenix, AZ - Tucson, AZ
Tri-Tech Multisport - Columbus, OH
Trysports - Mount Pleasent, SC

My favourite name is Tribe Multisport. It's a different word, that has the word Tri in it, but the word Tribe could also be used to describe what triathletes are and the whole triathlon scene. What we do is rather odd and people do like to think of us (triathletes) as being different. We are by definition a bit of a tribe unto our selves.

After Tribe, some of them are catchy. Tri Zombies is a classic! Tri It is a good one to.

Has it been over done? Hard to know. I do note that some of these shops are the best Tri shops around, so I would not fault them over their choice of name. For them it works. When you have the word "Tri" in your name, it's clear what you are all about!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Economy of Movement

There is no science to this, just my anecdotal observations, so take away what you will.

During my whole time as an athlete I have always trained with better/fitter people than me. I have spent countless hours, running, cycling and nordic skiing behind, many other very good athletes - in some cases some extraordinarily good ones. A constant that I have noticed, particularly with the extraordinarily good ones, is an economy of movement - an efficiency and an ease to what they are doing. They can be going very hard - but all is relaxed and flowing.

I had been aware of this for a few years, but it all came together one day on a long bike ride with my tri training group in Vancouver when former Tour de France Yellow Jersey wearer and Team 7-11 rider Alex Steida showed up for the ride. I sat on Steida's wheel for a long time on that ride as well as riding side by side with him and chatting. What was remarkable is that he always looked the same. The pedals always kept turning over in a metronome like manner at the same cadence regardless of how fast or slow we were going, whether we were going up hill or down hill or big gear or small gear. His upper body barely moved. When he did shift his upper body or reach behind to grab a snack out of his jersey pocket it was all done with a totally relaxed ease of movement.

I noticed the same thing trailing very good runners - national caliber, sub 30 minute 10K, types. We could be going all-out, right at the limit, but they just flowed along eating up big chunks of ground and more often then not, pulling away from me as the run or the interval wore on! It was the same as sitting behind Steida - legs ticking over very effciently with a light touch on the ground and the upper body, other than the arm swing, all quiet and calm with no strain

Switch to nordic skiing - a much more technical sport where technique, whether skating or classic skiing is very important. However, beyond the technique, there was this same relaxed efficiency amongst the very good. I have skied many kilometers behind some very good nordic skiers (National team level), and that was a constant amongst them - they just flowed over the snow, like they were barely touching it. It was the same up hills and down, kilometer after kilometer.

Now, I was never a good swimmer, and what I have just written about is almost impossible to see when you are swimming with other people. The a-ha, moment with swimming came for me the year after I retired from serious triathlon racing. I was working with Steve King and the race announcing team at Ironman Canada. I was asked to follow the lead swimmers in a Kayak and report back what was going on by radio. What a different world out there with the lead swimmers. Very different from the mayhem of my typical 58 min IM swims - but there at the front was the calm relaxation and efficiency of movement that we are talking about. Bryan Rhodes, while leading the swim, flips over on his back starts doing back-stroke, and calm as day, starts up a conversation with me! Rhodes does this several times during the swim. Despite swimming at sub-50 minute IM swim pace, he was completely relaxed and calm about it all.

All this time following and watching these exceptional athletes has paid off for me. I am realizing now that I was a good mimic. People have often commented to me that I have a very smooth pedal stroke on the bike and that I look relaxed, calm and comfortable on the bike. They have said similar things about me skiing - yet I never took a formal ski lesson or training. I just started in skiing with very good people. I don't run much any more, but I was out running with my son recently and, a neighbor said to me that I looked like a really good runner - I thanked him and then told him that I had just run around the block!

Take aways: Train with better athletes at every opportunity. If they are very good and you can spend a lot of time training with them, watch carefully what they do. Try and mimic their movements in a general sense. Look for the things I pointed out above when doing the various sports. I realize that everyone has subtle individualities with their technique, but what is key amongst the very good, is how they all look, more or less the same - at that level the differences come from other factors.

Picture at the top, is at a rest stop on the big group ride up Mt. Lemmon at last year's TriFest in Tucson, AZ. This is actually one of those occasions when, triathletes of all levels can get to ride with some very good and strong pro triathletes and cyclists. Don't miss it, and pay careful attention to how they ride!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Hilarious and Humble Paul Huddle!!

We are lucky in the sport of triathlon to have some real characters in the sport. People who have walked the walk and can really talk the talk, and do it in a funny and enlightening way. One of these people is Paul Huddle. Huddle is a true triathlon Renaissance man. He's literally done it all in this sport and done it all extremely well, with flair, and a great sense of humor.

I first met Paul years ago at Ironman Canada ( IMC). Our bikes were racked near one another's in the Transition area. He was warming up on the morning of the race with a lumber-jack jacket and what looked like a World War II Bomber cap on. Right away, I knew this guy was different! He was the first to start listing funny past-times under "Occupation" on IM entry forms. I think that year at IMC he was a "Lounge Singer".

As I said he's truly done it all in the sport. Several top 10 finishes at Ironman Hawaii. Was Mark Allen's main training partner for years. Founded and runs one of the best coaching services around - Multisports. Columnist with Triathlete Magazine. Founder/leader of the UnderPants run. Host of the show at Ironman Hawaii. Creator, director and actor with Roch Frey, of the hilarious, "What Not To Do The Week Before Ironman" video series (viewable at the NA Sports Web Site). Key Bike/Run Course Guy for NA Sports. Race Director for Ironman Arizona. Co-Host with Bob Babbitt of "The Competitors" radio program. Married to 8-time Ironman World Champion Paula Newby Fraser. Is there anything he has not done? Amazing!

Picture above is of Mr. Huddle surveying the madness before this year's Under Pants run at Ironman Hawaii. Yes, those are compression argyle socks!

Check out Huddle's most recent rant on Warning bring your tire leavers!! :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Great Solution to a Smelly Problem

I had the good fortune to be working at Sugoi back in the mid to late '90's when the use of technical fabrics for cycling, running and triathlon really started to take off. Hard to believe, but just over 10 years ago many runners still wore cotton T-Shirts almost exclusively, for training and racing. Cycling was a bit ahead of where running was at the time. And truth be told, Sugoi took much of it's expertise in cycling apparel and transferred it to running and triathlon apparel.

The newer finer polyester fabrics that were starting to become available in the mid '90's were amazing - light, fine, and with impressive powers to move moisture from one side to the other - in this case from inside a garment to the outside and away from the skin. Thus, the concept of the term, "wicking" as it pertains to technical apparel of this kind.

The one down-side to these fabrics was that over time, they started to get . . . . well . . . . . . how do I put this, . . skunky, may be the best word. Musty would be another word that comes to mind. Even with regular washing and use, these garments would after a time start to smell - somtimes badly. What was happening was that oils from your skin and, organic matter (dead skin cells), were bonding with the finer strands of the polyester in the fabric. Polyester is an oil based material, so the organic matter in the body oils and skin has a natural affinity to the oil based polyester fabric and easily bonds to it. Small amounts of bacteria would also get trapped in at this level as well. The combo of the body oils, the organic matter and the bacteria would ferment and start to smell. No amount of normal washing could get rid of this smell.

At Sugoi, we looked into some fabric based solutions - silver was one thing that was tried. We received some samples from a fabric supplier that sounded promising. Silver is anti microbial. Fine silver filaments were woven through the fabric. This fabric proved promising. Six months on and after heavy use - no smell. Minor problem, though, a basic T-Shirt was going to need to retail at $100, perhaps more, based on how expensive the "silver" wonder fabric was! I still have one of these test T-shirts - seven years on it has minimal smell. However, good it was their was no way that we were going to be able to sell $100 running T-shirts.

Which leads me to Win High Performance Sport Detergent. We recently bought a bottle and used it on a load of older, technical training gear of ours - stuff that, frankly was ready to be tossed based on the built up smell. We ran the load with the Win detergent, and it took almost 100% of the smell away. It was an impressive turn-around. The Win detergent specifically targets the trapped bacteria and organic matter in the fabric with it' s scientifically formulated formula. Win's super oxygenated detergent zeros in on the bacteria and other organic matter and oxidizes it and removes it all from the fabric, and for the most part removes the odors.

I was really impressed by this as there were a few cycling jerseys that I was ready to toss out or turn into rags, but the Win detergent has regenerated them, and given them a new, much cleaner, fresher smelling and longer life.

See more here:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sales & The Long Distance Endurance Athlete

The picture above is of the start of the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii this year. Are there similarities between what goes on here, and in the world of business and sales?

I have, for my whole working life, worked for very small businesses and companies that essentially lived or died, based on their Sales. If you did not sell anything, the company received no business and no money, and me, the salesperson received no money - or significantly less money! It's always been a pretty straightforward relationship. I have very often thought of the parallels between working in sales and being an endurance athlete. There are more than a few similarities.

Good salespeople need to look long term. So does the endurance athlete. It's not so much the training that you do today, that matters, it is the training you do over the course of six months to a year, and year over year, that's really key. It's the same in sales - you need to often keep at it for long periods of time, to see real results. It's rare to hit the home-run in business right away, and it's rare if not impossible to win a running race or a triathlon with little or no training.

Good salespeople need to get focused on a routine. So does the endurance athlete. Training for a marathon or a long triathlon is not rocket science. It's getting out the door and getting the training done. It's the same in sales - what you do is not that complicated, but you need to be focused on what you are doing and your routine every day and keep repeating it over and over and over and . . . . . you get the picture! Training for a marathon is not about the runs you did last week. It's about the 6 months to a year of steady run training you put in.

Good salespeople need to be able to deal with set-backs. Not everyone says, "Yes". In fact, more often, people say, "No". Even deals that you think, for-sure will happen, sometimes don't. Same for the endurance athlete. There will be days of training and races that are disastrous - where nothing will go as planned. Both the salesperson and the endurance athlete need to keep going, and know that it will get better. There will be bad patches. You need to deal with them and move on. It will get better.

Good salespeople know that they are often in a real race - a race with their competitors. Few companies operate completely in a vacuum, without competition. It's hard, because you rarely if ever see your competition, in business - you only hear about them. It's more or less the same for endurance athletes. If you are serious about your performance at some level, you know that on race day its . . . well . . . . . it's a race. It's a competition. The finish line is there for a reason. In training, you may never see your competition. You may only hear that they are training hard, or slacking off, or whatever. You don't know for sure. What you do know, that come race day, it's game-on, and it's going to be competitive!

Good sales people know that their are certain techniques and tools that can be very helpful - they know that other techniques and tools are not that helpful. The successful endurance athlete also knows that certain techniques of training really do help, and that some tools are good at advancing performance. However the athlete also knows, just like the salesperson that certain training techniques and tools are useless, and that others are much more effective in yielding good results over time.

Good salespeople know that technology will only help, and get you so far. It's the same with endurance sports training. There is some technology that is helpful, but really it's about getting the hours of training in. In sales, for example, there is a tendency to rely too much on modern communication technology. However, at it's roots business success is about relationships. At some point, you need to go beyond the Blackberry, the email and the phone, and really get to know who you want to work with. With endurance training, there are all kinds of fancy tools, like heart rate monitors, and power meters, and fancy training machines to help you with your training, but these only monitor your training, you still need to get out there and do it!

So there it is. The marathon runner and the salesperson - one and the same! Who would have thought. However, as someone who has experienced and lived deeply in both worlds I know the parallels and similarities well.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

PSA - Please Shovel The Snow

Well it's that time of the year. Winter seems to have come hard, fast and early to many parts of Canada and the U.S. already. This is a Public Service Announcement to please shovel the snow from your sidewalks. As I noted in the post below, there may be runners out doing an off season run focus and running on a nicely cleared sidewalk is heaven. Running on a rutted, icey uncleared one can be crazy and down-right dangerous. So please get the shovel out of the garage or the basement and clear the sidewalks in front of your house of snow and ice.

Now, I while I am encouraging expeditious removal of snow from sidewalks and elsewhere, I would also urge caution in moving the snow around. If it's the heavy wet, concrete like snow we have on the ground here north of Toronto, be very careful. Shovelling this type of snow can blow your back out in a second. Use good form and make sure your core is strong and stable before tossing the heavy stuff around.

That's all for now in the southern Ontario Snow Belt. Picture above is my son Matthew particularly proud of his snow clearing technique last March! Yes, that's right, the snow banks are well over 5 feet tall!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Run and Done

The truly interesting thing about the run leg in triathlons is that regardless of the format of the race or the length of the race, many big, highly competitive triathlon races are always sorted out on the run. It's been this way since the early days of the sport. The run leg has always had a high importance, if for no other reason than, that it's last!

What I have noticed over the past few years is that in general, run performance in triathlon races is dropping or at the least is not getting any faster. This to me represents a great opportunity for the triathlete who is serious about increasing their place performance - in particular those looking to place on the podium in their age-group or score a qualifying spot for the IM World Championships or the 70.3 Championships. Run performance in triathlon is a complicated thing. However, the bottom line is that, however you improve your run performance, it's almost guaranteed that if you run faster, you will place higher and finish faster!

The three biggest influencers on race day, run performance are, bike fitness, appropriate bike pacing and then overall run fitness. I am going to address this last point here. Many people start out in triathlon and get a nice balanced training program from their coach or work out a nice weekly routine that works for them. Typically, this involves 2 - 3 run workouts per week. This is a great way to get things rolling and many athletes will go a long way with this sort of a program. However, often it's the run leg that is letting them down. Assuming, decent bike fitness, and appropriate race day pacing - it very well may be, overall run fitness that is holding them back.

What to do? For athletes like this, in particular those with a chronic weak run leg, those in the sport for less than 3 years, an off-season run focus can really help ramp up the fun fitness and tri-race, run leg performance. The good news is that it's a remarkably straight-forward program. The bad news is that . . . . . well, their really is no bad news other than it's going to take a few months to get some solid returns.

How to do this? Start thinking like a runner. Runners only run! That should be a clue as to where I am going here. The first thing you need to do is start running more days/week. If only running 2 or 3 days, you need to start working up 5 to 6 or even 7 days/week of running. Set a minimum, that you will call a "run" - 20 minutes is a good minimum. If you are having motivation problems, seek out friends or a running club, that will help get you out the door to get this done. There is a group over on the Slowtwitch forum working on 100 run days in a row! Once you have become comfortable running 5 - 7 days/week, then start to increase overall weekly volume - 10% week has become the standard and is a good safe target to shoot for.

Too many, worry too much about what these run workouts should be like - what pace, what heart rate, how long, how hard . . etc . A rule of thumb is that you should be not so stiff and sore so that you can't repeat that run workout the next day. A little bit of stiffness is OK. If it goes away in the first 5 - 6 minutes of running - that is about right. Just get out and run - some days you'll run faster, other days will be slower. It's not the day to day running that's important here, nor what you do week to week - it's putting together a block of time ( I would suggest a minimum of 3 months) where running is your focus. It's the total amount of running over a longer period of time that is key.

In a previous post, I talked a bit about triathletes running marathons. My suggestion would be to resist the temptation to do this - do the training for the marathon, but don't race the marathon! If you have a burning desire to do some running races, the better distances to race at would be 5K or 10K. This will allow you to run hard/fast and then allow you to get back to your run focus quickly with minimal down time.

Now, some are likly wondering what to do about swimming and cycling during this time. After all, this is the sport of triathlon we are talking about. A remarkable amount of fitness can be maintained over a long period of time with 1 or 2 very focused swim or bike workouts each week. Make them really count! For many that have to deal with a real winter( cold weather and snow etc . .), this is the perfect time of the year to do this as cycling time is going to be compromised anyway.

This is very general advice, but I almost gaurantee you, that if you do this for a minium of 3 months, and then after you get back to a more balanced three sport training program, for a period of time, that your run leg performance and indeed your overall triathlon performance will have been improved significantly.

The picture above is of my wife Paolina Allan, when she finished 2nd at Ironman Canada a few years ago. She left T2 over 20 minutes down on the lead and in 7th place. She was able to run her way all the way to second place and within 3 minutes of winning the whole race!It was a focused block of running done earlier that year that had lifted her triathlon running to a much higher level.

Best wishes. Let me know how it goes.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Great Drafting Debate

This is a debate that is almost as old as the sport of triathlon. It goes on and on and on and . . . . . To get some idea of how long and deep the debate is, I would suggest to readers that they head over to the Slowtwich forum and do a search on "Drafting" and you will find likely hundreds of threads that do go on and on and on . . .

The History

In the early years of triathlon it came about, that there was a gentleman's agreement between athletes that this was to be an individual test of endurance. When you drafted on the bike behind another rider, there was a significant advantage( 30%+) for the trailing rider. It was agreed that we would not do this. That we would not take that advantage and that we would ride on our own for the whole bike leg. In the early years of the sport, this agreement worked wonderfully. It became part of the rules. The reasons that it worked well was the race fields were relatively small and back then their was a lot of differentiation between people's swim, bike and run abilities and fitness. The strong swimmers led the swim the stronger cyclists moved up on the bike and then the strong runners moved up on the run. However, towards the late 80's race field sizes started to grow considerably as the sport of triathlon went through it's first real growth spurt. I first started to see the problem first hand at the U.S. Triathlon Championships at Hilton Head, SC in 1987. Despite wave starts, on a flat an narrow one lane 40K bike course, large packs of riders started to form. For the first time, the gentleman's agreement was not working. There was a considerable amount of arguing and bickering going on during the bike. Two things were clear: 1) At times, their were simply too many people on too little road in too short a period of time. 2) There were people who were not agreeing to the gentleman's agreement!

The Middle Ages

In the late 80's the sport of triathlon really started to break out in the open. Participant numbers started to make a huge jump. The Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii started to really gain prominance as the sport's most important and high profile race. The International Triathlon Union (ITU) formed, as the sports world governing body and in 1989 hosted the first World Championships. For the first time race offcials and referees were appointed to police the bike leg and enforce the n0-drafting rules. This worked for a time, but it was starting to get a bit out of control - particularly at bigger, high profile events such as the ITU World Cup races, The ITU World Championships as well as the Ironman races. It reached a low point, during 1992 when at the ITU World Championships that year, almost 100 men emerged from the water within 30 seconds of one another after the swim and despite a challenging 40K bike, their was still a large group of 50 men still all very close to one another all heading out onto the run. The bike had done nothing to seperate the key contenders.

At several World Cups in '92 and '93, the scene after the races had been one of chaos and confusion. A number of the top 10 finishers ahd been disqualified out-right for drafting on the bike, even in some cases the first person across the finish-line. Post race appeals would be launched by the DQ'ed athletes and there was considerable arguing and bickering amongst athletes, and race officials. The net result of all this was that even an hour or so after the race was over, their was still not known who won the race. Media needed to file stories and the TV folks were now wondering if they had video of who actually won the race! How could they put a TV show together with no or very limited video of who factored in the final results? This is an over simplification, but the ITU in their wisdom said - fine we tried everything, now it's going to be swim/bike/run however you want, and the first across the finish-line wins! It's simple. It's straight-forward. Everyone get's it. They would allow drafting on the bike. This upset many in the sport. To this day, there are many that really don't care at all for the ITU racing. Some going so far as to say it's not triathlon anymore. It did change the dynamics of the racing quite a bit. The importance of the bike was diminished. However, over time, the importance of the swim was heightened considerably and the run, was as it always had been, was still the most important leg, if for no other reason, than it was last!

Meanwhile, the Ironman races were growing in popularity at a significant rate. Race fields for many of the races including Ironman Hawaii were now well over 1000 athletes. Despite the 180k length of the bike, there was considerable traffic and bunching early on in the bike portion. I first started to notice this at Ironman Hawaii in 1993. I swam exactly 1:00 their that year and headed out on the bike ride in a moderately sized group that only grew in size as we made our way along the Queen K Hwy to the half-way point in the town of Hawi. It had the feel of a big bike race, quite frankly. For the first time, the race was using marshals out on the course to try and enforce the no- drafting rules, but it was doing little to break things up. I recall some heated exchanges between athletes and officials as well as athlete to athlete, but for the first 100K it really did nothing to break things up and as far as I know, no penalties were handed out. What the officials could or would not do or the athletes themselves, the length and the winds on the IMH course would eventually do anyway. I recall riding mostly on my own that year from past the 100K mark to the finish of the bike.

As time went on in the '90s and the sport grew larger and larger with more races, the drafting problem in the non-ITU races, particularly the Ironman races and the 1/2 IM races grew. If you stood at the exit from the the first transition after the swim, as athletes were getting on their bikes, it became apparent what one of the key issues was - there were too many athletes on too little road in too little period of time. The no drafting rules by this time had been much more clearly defined and everyone was made aware of them. They were read out and gone over in detail at mandatory pre-race meetings. The rules, were good, but at certain times and places on the bike courses at these big races, now with close to 2,000 people in them, the rules were asking athletes to do something that was almost physically impossible to do!

In my last race in 1997 at Ironman Canada, for the first 50K, there really was no where to go. There were times when it was almost impossible to ride legal. Things in this race did not start to break-up until we started the long 15K climb up the Richter Pass, past 60K. Beyond the summit of Richter, it was fine. I recall riding in a small group, that rode legal. The old gentleman's agreement worked in these situations. We knew and respected one another. There was lots of road and space. There was a give and take, but an understanding that we would each do this on our own. After that last race in '97, I became an observer, but all I can say is that the drafting would become worse and worse. Another contributing factor was that unlike back in the early days, as people improved in the sport and the became true triple sport athletes, there was no longer that differentiation any more. Many were swimming, and cycling in particular, with a similar level of fitness and talent.

As an observer of races now, I realized that people were starting to fall into groups. There were those who were blatantly drafting. Who took every advantage that they could out on the bike. From what I could tell this was a relatively small group. There was another group who would inadvertently get caught up in the drafting - through no fault of their own. They simply became overwhelmed by the physics of it all - too many people, on too little road in too short a period of time. You can't have over 100 people finish the swim, and head out on the bike in less than a minute, and have them all line up nicely single file with a 7m space between each of them. Based on the size of races many in the middle of the field fell into this group. It was a moderately large number of people. It tended to vary based on how challenging the bike course was physically - larger on flatter course like Ironman Florida, less large on more challenging bikes courses like Ironman Wisconsin. Another group was the people that really did not care about the drafting rules in the big IM races. With respect, these tended to be the people towards the back of the pack. They were in this for the challenge. Time/place was irrelevant to them. They were simply going to finish. They trained with a group of friends for this race, so I race day they wanted enjoy or suffer along with others.

For a time, some of the big IM races tried a draconian implementation of the no-drafting rules. It did not work to well as their was considerable upset amongst athletes who had been DQ'd particularly those towards the back of the race who were really going just to finish. Some slightly different rules were tried - on the road time penalties, that would be served on the bike course, in Penalty Tents set up along the course. Get nailed for Drafting and you would be asked to report to the next Penalty Tent and check in, and then wait for 4 minutes. More and more officials were being asked to referee the bike leg. At big IM races there could be 20 officials out on motorcycles patrolling the course. (The picture at the top of the page is of the WTC Head Referee Jimmy Riccitello briefing the Draft Marshals before they head out on the bike course at this years Ironman Hawaii World Championship race) Despite handing out hundreds of penalties per race, the drafting on the bike was still an issue and cause for much debate and discussion after races.


It's still a big problem. There is no easy solution. The obvious ones, are impractical, unpaletable or financially impossible given the way races are funded and financed these days almost completely on race entry fees. Wave starts help, but unless, you carefully think through the wave starts, and have enough of a gap between waves, Wave Starts can make the drafting out on the bike worse! Challenging, bike courses also help - in a big way. It's no surprise that the drafting is at it's worst on very flat bike courses, and considerably less on a bike course that really challenges triathletes. My wife raced at Ironman Lanzarote earlier this year - a race that has perhaps the most challenging bike profile of any of the big IM races, and she saw almost no drafting. Many are proposing complex and complicated monitoring systems with GPS units on each bike to police the no-drafting. Sounds cool, but I worry that an already complicated, complex and expensive sport may get even more complicated, complex and expensive. Sport when it's at it's best, should be simple. It should be the athletes and the competition that settle things, not some complex set of rules that can seem rather bewildering. As I mentioned earlier, it's one of the key reasons the ITU went the direction that it did in the early 90's. At the time, the ITU was wrestling with the drafting issue, they were also lobbying the IOC for inclusion in the Olympic Games. The ITU had been told, that the IOC likes simple sports, and sports that look good on TV. The no-drafting format was somewhat confusing to the lay person, and as previously stated often yielded bizarre results at the finish line where the winner, was not the winner!

The ITU racing is very exciting and the finishes often have a high degree of drama. If anyone witnessed any of the Olympic Triathlon races over the last three Olympic Games, it's hard not to agree with this. Still, there are those that don't believe this is real triathlon racing. I see their point, if you consider the roots of the sport. The overall importance of the bike leg has been diminished, but only in one dimension - that of it being about strong Time Trialing fitness. In actual fact the demands on ITU racers on the bike have increased! It's not just about putting your head down and hammering, you need to be able to think and react like a real road race cyclist. You need to be able to ride in pack, corner and cover moves and breaks. You need to be able to attack on hills and recover quickly. Sometimes things do happen on the bike and a move get's away. Sometimes it does not. There is much more going on than meets the eye. Many still pooh-pooh all this and go as far as saying that ITU triathletes are not strong cyclists. Perhaps, but I note that whenever the very best ITU triathletes jump into a no-drafting race, they are always near the front and, many of the very best athletes at the Ironman distance these days, and the 1/2IM or 70.3 distance are former ITU racing standouts!

At the Ironman races, they have now seperated the Professionals from the rest of the Age-Group athletes by having the Pros start before the Age-Group mass start. This allows race offcials to more carefully monitor the Pro race and make sure that those racing for money are doing it fairly and within the rules. For the most part the Pro Ironman races are fair and even affairs. The Age-Group Ironman races are still marred to a certain degree by drafting - the amount of it depends on the race and the bike course. Offcials do what they can when they can to break things up. They seem to be taking a realistic approach realizing that early on in the bike, in big Ironman and 1/2 IM events, say the first 20K or so, that it's impossible for everyone to ride totally legally, so they back off. Still, it's an issue, that knows no real solution.

I apologize if I have lead you down a path with no real answers or solutions to this issue, but currently, there really is nothing on the table that is going to dramatically change things. My only hope with this post was to give a brief overview of the history of where we have come from with this issue from the early days of the sport, through the middle years, and onto today. As I see it, part of the issue is the philosophy of what the bike leg of a triahtlon really is, and how different athletes see it and approach it, differently. I have some thoughts on this that I will address in a future post. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My YouTube Video Debut!

We are going back in time a bit. Out of curiosity, doing a quick search of "Nineteen Wetsuits" on YouTube, turned up a series of short videos that one of our customers, shot at the Interbike trade show back in September. There is a total of four, and in them, I very quickly go over the features of each of our Nineteen wetsuit lines - The Pipeline, the Tsunami, the Frequency and the new Frequency SS ( Speed-Skin).I had talked at length about the new Frequency SS in a previous post about product development. Below are the links to all four of the videos on YouTube. A big thanks to's Seton Clegget and Sarah Lienke who shot the videos of, not just Nineteen but, I am sure their many other vendors as well. I was surprised, by the numbers of people that had viewed the Nineteen videos on YouTube already!

And by the way - this is a great example of Long Tail sales and marketing at work. I had reviewed Chris Anderson's book, "The Long Tail" in an earlier post, it's been interesting to see this in action. Again, anyone looking to get a better understanding of current sales and marketing trends and how to make the best use of the current resources of the internet and social networking that is available, should definitely read, "The Long Tail".

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Winter Bike Training

If you live where you get real winter you may have to make some changes to your bike training for the winter season. One option is to keep riding. The picture above is of Cervelo sales Manager Rodney Merchant's RS Road bike on a mid winter ride near Toronto. Few are as hardy as Rodney, but a great attitude and the right apparel can go a long way to riding outdoors in less then ideal conditions. However, let's be realistic - most triathletes will be doing their bike training indoors if that's what they are going to be facing outdoors.

So what to do on the indoor trainer? Personally, I have never been a fan of spending a huge amount of time on the indoor trainer. I know that there are people that grind out, 3, 4 and even 5 hour indoor rides. I would suggest shorter more focused and more intense efforts. Done right these workouts can be very effective.

If you have been off the bike for a while it might be good to put in some time just working up to being able to ride at a good pace for 45 minutes to an hour. Once you can do this, then there are three different kinds of workouts I suggest. They revolve around 1, 2 and 5 minute blocks of time. I set my timer on my watch to the count-down-and-return function so that if I set it at 2 minutes, it will run for 2 minutes and then beep and keep repeating the beep every 2 minutes and so on.

I would start with 2 minutes and after a 10 -15 min. warm-up, start to do 2 minutes at hard effort and then 2 minutes easy spinning. Do 4 - 6 of these and see how you feel. Next time play around with things, Maybe do four minutes hard with 4 minutes rest etc . . . One of the best workouts that you can do with these 2 minute units of time is 4 minutes hard with 2 minutes recovery. If you can do 6 of these at close to max effort and fully recover in the 2 minute easy period - you are doing well. Spin down for 10 - 15 minutes and you are done.

The one minute time period is good for working on your power and your sprint. Set the timer for one minute and then go as hard as you can for one minute - really max out. Then rest of 1, 2 or even 3 minutes and repeat the one hard minute. Repeat this cycle until you can't go all out for the one minute hard. This set can be worked in at the end of the previous 2 minute workout, or on it's own in the middle of an easy recovery ride.

Finally the 5 minute time period is good for building up your longer Time-Trial fitness and learning to work and sustain a moderately hard effort right at the edge, without going over - this is key for triathlon cycling. Start off going for 10 minutes at a moderately hard pace. Then take 5 minutes to recover, then go hard again for another 10 minutes. This should be the type of effort that feels easy at first but by the time you reach the last few minutes of the ten minute hard portion, you feel like you are really working hard. The gold standard of what you want to build up to here is 20 minutes hard with 5 - 10 minute rest and then repeat the 20 minutes hard. If you are doing this right, you should be surfing along right at the edge of your Lactate Threshold and not blowing up and going over it.

The other option for indoor riding is rollers. Many triathletes shy away from rollers, but they are one of the best training tools for developing a smooth and efficient pedal stroke. Typically they don't offer much in the way of resistance, so this is usually not as hard as a workout on the indoor trainer.

I have noticed from observing thousands of triathletes, that many don't have very smooth and efficient pedal strokes. Riding rollers really helps smooth things out. They also make you very confidant on your bike by teaching you what the keys to great bike balance are. You know you have a good aero-postion, are well set up on your bike, and have a smooth and efficient pedal stroke, when you can ride in your aero position on the rollers. Many can't do this - but it is worth striving for. If you look at the best triathletes and bike Time-Trialers they have one thing in common - they are all very quiet, still, smooth and efficient on the bike.

If you do have rollers, what I like to do is alternate roller sessions, with sessions on the trainer - so two rollers sessions a week and two trainer sessions a week. None of these sessions need last longer than 45 minutes to an hour. If you do that through the 3 - 4 months of winter, you will definitely maintain your bike fitness, you may even elevate it!

Hope this helps.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Product Developmemt - Frequency SS

New product development is always fun - finding a market is the challenge.

We are currently in the final stages of developing a new product at Nineteen. Pictured above on one of our sponsored athletes, Jeff Keil from Colorado, is our new Frequency SS. The SS stands for Speed-Skin or Swim-Skin. Jeff placed second in his Age Group at the recent Ironman World Championships and swam to a 3 minute personal best swim time in the new Nineteen Frequency SS! This was a new product category that was really opened up by our fellow wetsuit manufacturer, Blue Seventy Wetsuits when they debuted their Point Zero 3 swim skin just over a year ago. Until then in non-wetsuit swims, triathletes had worn regular swim or tri suits. Now they could gain an edge by wearing a garment that made them much more hydro-dynamically sleek in the water.

Blue Seventy pushed the envelope and moved the ball down the court - kudos to them. They even took the ball outside of the triathlon court and potentially opened up a whole new market when they seeked and won FINA approval for the Point Zero 3. Problem is, in the world of pool swimming there is one and only one brand that rules - Speedo. All the talk before after and during the recent Olympic Games was the Speedo Lazer. And to Speedo's credit, they hit the ball out of the court as well, when the Lazer wearing swim stars of the Games, including the mighty Michael Phelps, went on a World Record rampage! Guess what racing swim suit all competitive and masters swimmers are talking about?

Where am I going with this? Well, as I mentioned, new product development is fun and cool, but new market development can be a slow and tedious process and that's what Nineteen as well as any of the tri wetsuit companies are facing with our new swim-skins, when looking into the real swimming pool. I have already started this process and like anything, it's about doing a lot of listening at the out-set and learning as much as you can, as quickly as you can. My sense is that their may be some real potential here, but it's going to take time. One great thing about triathletes, is that they are early adopters of just about everything. Tell a triathlete it will help them, even a bit, and they will buy into it, almost right on the spot! It's a key reason for the success of many smaller companies supplying product and services to the triathlon market. Single sport athletes, for the most part are much more skeptical. So I have my work cut out for me. I'll keep you posted as I go.

Triathlon Coaching

I will be taking on a very limited number of clients for 2009 who are seeking a triathlon coach.

What I offer is a bit different than other similar services out there. The best fit will be the experienced triathlete who knows what they are doing day to day and week to week, but needs high level guidance and advice to keep the program on track and that goals are being met. I will not be handing out individual workouts or spread-sheets of your entire program. If you are looking for that, there are ample other services available, even free down-loadable online training programs. My process and input is more consultative and tailored to your needs and goals, with an assumption you already have a good sense of what to do.

There is a tremendous amount of information out there on triathlon training and I know that many are confused about what to do and how to do it. Ironically, endurance sports training is not that complicated. Often athletes who are striving for personal bests, loose site of this and get lost or disoriented with all the details and the information. I can help simplify it, using the basic fundamentals, of human physiology and endurance sports training. You may even have a coach already or are following an online program and need some higher level advise or guidance to work through it all and get out of it what you want/need.

If you are a triathlete and this sounds of interest to you, I am keen to engage and see what we can do together.

For rates, more information on what I do, and my back ground, please don't hesitate to contact me:

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Tri Business in Troubled Times

The daily business news is grim. Yesterday, I heard a chilling stat. Automobile sales, that had peaked last year at 17 million units sold in the U.S., have dropped abruptly this year and they are expecting only about 10 million new units sold this year. That's a 7 million unit drop in a year! No wonder the automobile manufacturers, in particular the big three US Auto makers are hurting.

What about the triathlon world and business? So far, from what I can tell it's for the most part business as usual. Most of our customers had good to great years this year - not just with Nineteen wetsuit sales, but overall. Despite all the daily bad news, triathletes where still buying, bikes, wetsuits, shoes, clothes and all those other tri gadgets and nick-nacks, mostly at a record pace. The recent Interbike Trade show (Picture of the Nineteen booth above) was very up-beat. Most vendors that I talked to, had good years this year and pre-season orders for 2009 were at or ahead of record levels. The mood amongst many of our retail customers was very good. Some were a bit wary about the dark economic storm clouds that have been gathering all year, but they still were optimistic for 2009.

It's not a surprise really. The triathlon demographic is very good. You need to have a certain level of income - well north of what would be considered "average" to afford all the equipment needed to do the sport. You need sports gear for, three different sports! I think that is one of the key things that keeps it going. This may also be the dark down-side to this as the barrier costs to getting into the sport have been going steadily up, as have race entry fees. I have heard others say that if we see anything over the next year, it will be a slowing down of new people that have been coming into the sport - for that reason. The barrier costs of all the equipment needed and race entry fees getting too high. However, that is a slowdown from an astounding growth rate over the last five years. Record numbers of new people have come into the sport of triathlon and embraced the training and the lifestyle with gusto - and this is where the opportunity may lie. Many of these new people, bought entry level equipment to start out, in the last few years, just to get going - particularly when it comes to bikes and wetsuits. When they come back into the store now, they are not going to want to replace what they have with something similar. They are going to want to take a step up. My sense is even in troubled economic times, we are still going to be seeing people trading up to better equipment. That's why, many bike manufacturers, such as Cervelo, debuted over-the-top new bikes at the top-end of their lines - they know, that in addition to building awareness and the brand, these bikes will sell, because people do want to step up!

Be ready for the step up!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Bicycles & Airline Travel - The Challenges

Below is a response to a series of posts on a message board that I take part in called The subject was traveling with your bike on planes. It's been a subject of endless debate over the years, but has reached fever pitch recently, as almost all the airlines have significantly raised all of the extra fees that they charge people for extra baggage beyond one checked bag. It has become particularly frustrating and expensive for triathletes and cyclists who frequently travel with their bikes to places to train and to races.

My thoughts on Bikes on the Planes:

1. The prices that we are paying for airline travel these days are a bargain. Many would disagree with me on this, but it is the reality. I recently traveled to Ironman Hawaii (IMH). I paid about $900 for my ticket from Toronto to Kona. Nearly 20 years ago in 1989, I went to Kona for the first time. In '89 I paid . . . . . . . about $900. Name me another high cost business with very expensive deliverables, that has stayed the same price for two decades?

2. What the airlines are trying to do is recover some costs because, they are loosing money on many( all) seats in the planes. So they are starting to charge for all those little extra things that previously had been "free". Most of the airlines have totally overhauled their policies when it comes to extra baggage and come up with completely, and mostly much more expensive fees for overweight, extra bags, over- size and special bags( bikes, skis . etc) . . at least this is what they are saying.

3. Now, historically, the airlines have for the most part had a special fee for bikes. The problem was that this was very inconsistently charged and enforced. In the past, by chance and by luck, or by a bit of friendly persuasion at the check-in counter you could travel a lot with a bike and never get charged! No more - now they are starting to play hard-ball with this and the fees in many cases have gone up significantly AND they are cumulative ie if it's a B-I-K-E, you are charged this, if it's your second bag, you are given another fee, if it's oversize( which just about all standard bike cases are) you are levied another fee, and if it's overweight( again which many standard bike cases can be) you are dinged again with yet another fee. As ridiculous as this sounds, I know people that paid more to get their bike to Kona for IMH then they did for themselves sitting in a seat on the plane!!

4. There still seems to be a variation in which airlines charge what and also in the levying of the extra fees. We flew Delta to Kona and only paid $50 outbound for my wife's bike. The check-in agent said that she was only charging us $50 because it was her second piece of luggage. She had asked if it was a bike and we said it was. It says quite clearly in the Delta Web site that, bikes will cost $175 each way + any extra fees for over-size, over-weight etc . . I verified these charges before the trip, with a phone call to Delta Customer service and also an email to same. On the return trip leaving Kona we paid $100, which we were told every bike leaving Kona is charged. It's kinda hard to fake your way off the Island with a bike when over 2,000 bikes are leaving the Island in 2 - 3 days!! So we paid a grand total of $150 which was a relief because we had been mentally prepared to pay $300+ But again - confusion and inconsistency seemed to reign.

5. What to do? First, choose your airline wisely. Many people book via Expedia or other online agents and automatically pick the cheapest ticket. Before you do that check with that airline on their bike policy. There still is a range. For example, West Jet, still does not charge for extra bags and the bike fee is a set $50. It may be worthwhile to take the more expensive airline ticket up front, and know that you will be paying less for your bike. Second - write the airlines. Tell them that, you understand that paying a bit more for safe and secure transport for your bike is OK, but when the price to transport the bike is more than for your seat on the plane, it's an absurd situation. Third - lobby or contact Race Directors for the events that you are going to and inquire about the race's sponsor airline, if they have one, and use that airline. Only go to races that offer that sort of deal. At some point people can and should start to vote with their pocket-books. Fourth - You can as others suggested use another type of bag - Hockey Bag etc to transport the bike by stealth and try and fake it. Given the security measures with airline travel these days, particularly in the U.S., I would be a bit wary, of out-right lying about the contents of my luggage! But that's a personal decision. Also, significantly more work needs to be done to disassemble and re-assemble the bike and may be only applicable to those with advanced bike mechanics skills Finally - use a service such as Tri-Bike-Transport to ship your bike to the event. This is only offered for limited events and to limited geographic areas, but it is an option. I know that Tri-Bike-Transport's business is booming. No surprise, when you consider the hassles and how uncertain and variable the costs of traveling with your bike as checked baggage is.

No easy answers, but hopefully shedding some light on a problem right now for those that do travel with their bikes - Flyer beware!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Marathons & Triathlon

This subject routinely comes up at this time of year on triathlon forms and message boards: Should I run a marathon in the off-season? It seems counter intuitive, but if the desire is improving ones running in a triathlon - any length triathlon, the straight up answer is, "no, don't run a marathon in the off season"

Deeper questions need to be asked though before leaving it there: What is the athletes focus? Is it triathlon or do they have a singular goal of running a marathon, maybe qualifying for the Boston Marathon? How is their running in relation to the other two sports? Do they come from a running back ground? The answers to these questions, will give some guidance as to what direction to go.

If the triathlete has a burning desire to run a marathon. Great! My suggestion to them would be to take 6 months to maybe even a year and really focus on the marathon and do it right. The problem is many triathletes look at running a marathon in too short a period of time, just bolt on a few extra long runs, and hope/pray that running the marathon is going to somehow totally transform and improve their triathlon running. The actual impact on how they run in triathlons is minimal and over the short term, depending on the timing of the marathon and key tri races, can me detrimental to their triathlon running and performance. If they take the time to really train for a marathon and do it right ( and it's not just about all long runs all the time), they will have some very positive long-term impacts on not just their stand-alone running but their triathlon running to.

Now if the focus is overall triathlon improvement with a concurrent desire to improve their triathlon running, then the wise triathlete will eschew the off-season marathon completely. Again, seems counter intuitive, but if you understand what running in a triathlon is you will perhaps see where I am going with this. Tri-running is about running while tired. You start out with tired legs and often with poor running form after the bike. The pace you run has to be that all-day, I can run-this-on-trashed-legs pace. A potent builder of this sort of run fitness is high frequency running - running as many days/week as you can. Get out and run almost every day - for 20 minutes to up to 2 hours. Just get out and run. Don't worry so much about pace, or heart rate. At first just try and build up to running for some bit of time ( 20min minimum is a good place to start) for upwards of 6 or even 7 days/week. Once getting in 6 or 7 days week, then start to increase weekly volume slowly. Do this for 3 - 4 months in the off season and you will really deepen the base running fitness you have and your ability to run while tired. If the triathlete wants to race - do a few 10K or even 1/2 marathon races. These distances push key fitness parameters like lactate threshold, but you can recover quickly and get back to the high frequency program quickly without a lot of down time.

My wife, Paolina Allan (pictured above), has become a very consistent 3:20 marathon runner in Ironman runs. She is not a natural runner and she has never run a stand-alone marathon. She has achieved this standard of triathlon and IM runnning by using a program of high frequency running through the winter months and she races a number of 10K and 1/2 marathons and uses these as training efforts and benchmarks of fitness.

Hope this helps.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Three Business Books

I have recently read three business books that have really opened my mind about the worlds of work and business. They are:

1. Good to Great by Jim Collins

also -

2. Raising the Bar by Gary Erickson

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3. The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

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All three books made me do a re-think of some of my core beliefs about business and work.

In Good to Great, Collins ( who's wife I should say, for the triathletes reading this, is Joanne Earnst - one of the top triathletes in the early days of the sport) talks a lot about getting the right people on the bus, and not worrying so much at first about what seats those people are in or where the bus is going. In an ideal situation, you want to have a bus load of absolutely amazing people, that are extraordinarily passionate about working for the betterment of that company. Thats all they want to see - the company moving forward. The problem is so many companies fret a lot about who is in what seats and where they are going. We seem to live in an age of specialists - and a generalist, who may actually be better over the long term get s, shunted aside while specialists keep getting on and off the bus. As you can imagine this takes up an extraordinary amount of time and energy and many companies fiddle and fiddle with this, to get all the right people in the right seats on the bus. Then their is the direction - where are they going. Again, many companies choose the direction first, and then try and assemble the right people to get there. When Collins believes it should be the other way around - get the right people on the bus to begin with, and they'll figure out where they are going and they'll know how to get there!

In Raising The Bar, Erickson first talks about turning down a $120 million dollar offer from a large multi-national food company to buy Clif bar - a company he had founded. Many thought he had lost his marbles! Who in their right mind would turn down such money? But to Erickson it was about more than money, it was about proper stewardship and the ultimate direction of something that he created. The easy option was to take the money. The more challenging and ultimately interesting choice was to keep it going and see where he and his team at Clif could really go with it. Erickson's key metaphor was the the red road or the white road - as a keen cyclist, wwhich would road did he prefer to ride on? The red roads are the big super highways. The white roads were the meandering back roads. If you know maps, you will know what Erickson is talking about . I'm a keen cyclist. I know exactly what he is talking about. The message and the metaphor was clear as day for me. Like Erickson, I am always looking for the white road to ride on - it's way more interesting ride. You see more. You are challenged more. In the end, you gain more. It's not without it's risks. The road may turn to gravel. Or their may be no place to get water or food for many miles, if at all. and lodging and mostly anything you need every 10 - 20 miles on most super highways or interstates. Business is better on the white road. Every day can and is an adventure, but you feel way more fullfiled when you reach your goal(s), because you know that it's, for the most part well earned and you have done it un-supported and under your own strength and skill.

Anderson's Long Tail is a bit different. It's an explanation of a transition that is underway, that many are perhaps not that tuned into - if you will excuse the pun. The example and metaphor is the music business and how it has been completely and totally transformed by the internet. Years ago Top 40 pop music played on radio ruled. The big record companies kept churning out those top 40 hits either from known bands, or manufactured bands within the big record companies/labels that were almost guaranteed to be a hit. The internet changed all this. The biggest music retailer in the U.S. now is Wal Mart, but Wal Mart can only sell a small percentage of the total amount of music that is out there. Predictably, Wal Mart sticks to tried a true hits, and a few select artists who every one knows. What if you are into Ambient Dub? Good luck finding anything like this, such as music, of say Thievery Corporation, on the shelves at Wal Mart. You will not find this sort of music or artists in Wal Mart - but you will find it at or a number of pay-per-down-load sites such as iTunes, or free down load sites such as Limewire or Web based social music sites such as, because all of these online sites are not restricted by shelf space and distribution costs, like Wal Mart is, they give you access to not several thousand CD's and tunes, they give you access to millions of tunes!! - voila, you are out in the Long Tail looking for that Ambient Dub tune, by Thievery Corporation. And guess what, all these niche and obscure choices out in the Long Tail, they add up to 50% of the total sales on site such as iTunes - about equal to all the top 40 hit tunes that are sold! As I said many are totally unaware of this transition and transformation of the way we do things, but it's underway and here to stay and is already transforming they way many companies both big and small market and sell their product(s).

I know in terms of how I source the new music that I am into, and want to listen to, that I now do this in the Long Tail. I gave up listening to Top - 40 radio years ago. Now I source new music from reviews that I read on-line or suggestions for songs, and artists, or albums from other people's play-lists on sites such as Or even blogs like this, that talk about music and review new CD's. Or notice how I am endorsing and reccomending these three books via my own blog. The book publishing business has been transformed by this as well, says Anderson in the Long Tail and blogs are key to getting reviews and information!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ironman Hawaii Final Recap - Now Home

First, I was trying to load a bunch more pictures on here for people to have a look at, but, I must say that the blogger edit software is a bit of a pain to work with for lots of pictures. Perhaps it was not meant to be used for such purposes. Therefore, I have put a full selection of Ironman Hawaii pictures up on my Face Book page. Link is below:

Paolina( Pictured above - Photo by Jay Prasuhn, Triathlete Magazine) had a great race to finish 22nd. She was a bit conservative with the pacing on the bike and early on in the run, but I, think that was better for her, given the fact that she was really only at about 75% fitness going in due to some semi-serious injuries that had her missing 6 weeks of key training time. Bodes well for the future if she can get to the start line at close to 100%. I can see her really moving up. The heat did not seem to bother her and she is keen to have another go at it next year if she can qualify again. So now we are weighing odds and chances at various early season Ironman races for next year.

From previous posts, readers will know that for me, this was a return to Ironman Hawaii after 15 years. The last time I was in Kona for the race was in 1993. Goodness gracious, the internet was not even up and running at that point and here I am on a blog!! I have documented some of the changes in a previous post. The full story and the rest of the details will be published in the December issue of Triathlon Magazine Canada. I will keep you posted as to when it hits new-stands.

There was some post-race partying to be sure. Most notably the K-Swiss After Party at Huggos, which was conveniently located almost across the street from the Billfisher - the place where we were staying. Nice. It rained cats & dogs at the Awards Banquet, which was a shame, as many people left and many of the top Age-Groupers and just about all the Pros really did not get the recognition from their peers that they truly deserved. As an aside, I was the winner of an Ironman Hawaii prediction pool for the race that was organized by some of the Victoria Crew - Client Lien et al. I won $200. Not bad! Thanks Clint for letting me in the game.

After the race we rented a car for two days - a convertible Chrysler Sebring. Got a great deal through Hotwire. In all the years of renting various cars for work and pleasure, I had never had a convertible. Nice treat and, what better place than the Big Island of Hawaii to be able to take in all of the great views with the top down. So off we went - to South Point one day and also down to Volcanos National Park the second day. Stopped off at the Black Sand Beach enroute to the Volcano to see that and swim with the Sea Turtles - which we did.

One more night in Kailua and then it was time for the 20+hour marathon back to Toronto. It was rather uneventful. No mix-ups with connections. No lost bags. We did have 5 hours in the Honolulu airport, so we took a cab to the Pearl Harbor Museum & Memorial which was near the airport. There was not enough time to do the full Memorial tour, so we opted to just look at the exhibits and some of the other things in the museum and surrounding area. It was very interesting - particularly learning more about the run up to the actual Japanese attack and how it came about. Disheartening also, that so many people lost their lives here who had no real chance to defend themselves.

Kona to Honolulu to Atlanta to Buffalo and then the 2 1/2 hour drive back to Aurora. Loved coming back across the boarder into Canada and having the following very intimidating conversation with the Canadian Customs Officer:

"Where do you live?".


"Where were you?"


"Have a nice day".

"Thank you, Sir"

Never even asked for the Passports!

It felt good to be home.

Now it's back to the routine - Paolina has a ton of her hair styling clients to get to and I am digging out from a mountain of Nineteen wetsuit stuff. That's it for now.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Very Sad Day

I received a phone call on my cell from home during the actual Ironman Hawaii race as I was standing on the side of the road on the bike course, part way up the hill to Hawi in Hawaii, that I had been dreading. Our dog Maxwell had not been well - severe arthritis had made him almost immobile, plus he had a serious growth of some sort in one of his elbow joints that was causing him significant pain. He had done further damage to the elbow just by trying to get up and now was totally immobile. He was 12+ years old and our Vet had said that perhaps it was time. I was completely overcome with emotion standing on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere on the Kona Coast, but I knew that it was the right thing to do. I felt terrible that I was half way around the world at this critical point, but I knew that he was in good hands at home.

Max, had a great life. He was my running buddy years ago. He had swum and fetched sticks and balls in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and just about every other body of water he ever walked or run by. His preferred state like most Labs was, wet, muddy and cold! He was loved by many in a large and extended family. He in turn loved everyone he ever met. He was gentle, friendly, and reliable and always there for me or anyone else in the family. I will miss him dearly.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Assorted Images From Ironman Hawaii

No time to write anything to involved now ans time is tight. Tomorrow is the big day. The 30th Ironman Hawaii will start at 7:00 local time. I have loaded up some pictures and comments to give a bit of flavour for the past few days.

Paolina's bike in race-ready mode. All tuned up, dialed in and ready to go!

Heather Fuhr, Paula Newby-Fraser and Peter Reid - Ironman Hawaii winners all, signing autographs at the Expo. Pete says he has been asked numerous times if he is racing! I can confirm absolutely, that the three time IMH Champis enjoying retirement and has no plans of a come-back.

Paolina, our friend David Ahrens from Toronto and then perhaps the three best coaches in the sport of triathlon - Barrie Shepley, Joel Filliol, and Paulo Sousa!

If it's Thursday before IM, it must be time for the underpants run. It's a long story that I will have to save for another day. Here's Paolina with Louis and Elvis!

Even though she is racing, my wonderful wife knows the medicinal value and recovery properties of a nice Merlot.

Yours truly, relaxing with a Longboard Ale, a nice local brew at the Kona Inn, the spot to watch the sunset in Kailua with a nice drink.

Every morning starts with a big mug of Kona Coffe

Cliff English and last year's second plave finisher Sam McGlone(unfortunatly out with a foot injury) at the morning swim.

Paolina hamming it up for the camera before our swim.

Morning swim scene and it is quite the scene!

Paolina greeting a cruise ship as it comes into Kailua bay. When these folks come ashore for tours, they must think this super-fit spandx clad crowd of Ironman athletes to be rather strange!

Time to check the bike in!

Paolina and her Timex team-mate Rachel Ross.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Another Kona Update

Busy day today in Kona at Ironman Hawaii.

I met with Jeff Keil, from Colorado, one of Nineteen's sponsored age-group athletes at the morning swim. Jeff has been one of the top age-group finishers here in Kona in the past and we are proud to be working with him this year. He's going to be wearing one of the new Nineteen Frequency SS( Speed Skins) in the race, and I needed to get him his suit.

Very busy down at the pier this morning. Bumped into all kinds of people that I know - endless list. I was planning on being there for about 30 minutes but this easily stretched into an hour and a half really easily. Chrissie Wellington, who won the women's race last year, and is the huge favourite to wins again this year, and possibly challenge some of the all time best course times, of the great Paula Newby-Fraser, was at the pier this morning and caused a bit of a frenzy with the media, other athletes and gawkers. This was as about as paparazzi as it gets in the sport of triathlon!

Paolina and I met up with my friend Joe Foster. The plan was for Paolina to ride with Joe out from Waikiloa out to part way up to Hawi and back. The ride went well and it gave me the opportunity to travel along in the car and pass up water bottles and encouragement. The ride went well and it let Paolina see some of the more technical parts of the course.

Lot's of other riders out on the bike course near town and also out on the section that we were on as well. We saw Torbjorn Sindballe, being motor-paced by someone on a scooter out near the look-out past the airport. He was moving along very fast.

It was the Parade of Nations tonight and Paolina took part with her Team Timex team- mates tossing out Timex Swag for the crowds on the parade route.

I bumped into three time Ironman Hawaii Champ Peter Reid this morning. It was good to see Pete again. He was back here in Kona doing some promo work for Specialized and leading a group ride this afternoon for people test riding Specialized bikes.

As some of you know I am working on a story on the changes in the Ironman Hawaii even in the last 15 years since I was last here 15 years ago. Below is a list of some of the things I know for a fact are very different based on what I have seen in the past few days:

- No underpants run – People actually did the whole race in a speedo! Seriously!

- No internet – you had to wait a month until Inside Triathlon and Triathlete came out with there November issues

- No Cervelo – Phil White & Gerard Vrooman were poor post Graduate Engineering Master’s students at McGill University

- No Slowtwitch – See no Internet!

- No Ford – The sponsor back then was Izusu, I think!

- No wind – ’93 set the standard for calm and cool by IMH Standards – it even rained in Hawi that year.


- No 70.3 races!

- No need to enter IM races a year ahead of time!
- No Compression socks, no powermeters, no super aero-frames, no salt pills

. . . . . and so on.

More photos on the day. Thanks for reading:

Testing the new Nineteen SS(Speed Skin) - it's fast!

View of the Queen K Hwy from the car - it's not that scenic!

Paolina and our friend Joe Foster on the recon ride past Waikiloa
This is were Nineteen wetsuits got it's name - Hwy 19 or the Queen K Hwy. Over 80% of the Ironman Hawaii bike and runs courses take place on Hwy 19, but most call it the Queen K.
Paolina's Timex team bike in race trim.

Scene from the Ironman Hawaii Parade of Nations.

Team Timex Pre-Parade strategy session