It's been an interesting year. First off, I never planned on doing a blog this year. The original plan was just to do it to document my journey to train and finish Ironman Louisville in 2008. After I accomplished that goal, I did shut the blog down. But then I got people who were reading my blog regularly, tell me they wished I'd continue. Aka, John Barclay.
I decided to do it again, this time for different reasons. The first was it keeps me honest. When you have people following your blog, you can't miss training sessions, the peer pressure is too great. Secondly, I decided to personalize it more, so that it had stories that were more than what I ate for dinner and how hard a specific workout was.
One of the main reasons I blog, is for posterity, I want my future generations to get to know me when I'm long gone. I would've loved to read about my ancestors. If it were me reading about my father, grandfather, great grandfather, etc, I'd actually try to duplicate the training to see what they experienced first hand. I think that would be cool.
When I first started blogging, my brother and sister read it, then they started making fun of me. My brother would say, and he does to this day because he hasn't read it in over a year, that he doesn't want to hear about what I ate, my sleeps, my shits or any boring stuff that has to do with my training. This year, as I mentioned above, I've tried to make it more than about triathlon training. I started to combine training with more deep feelings and stories. Past and present.
This year was a bit of a roller coaster. My original plan after last year was not to do an Ironman in 2009, but rather do one every second year. It requires too much training and hurts to much to finish. I wanted to temper my training so I could spend more time with family on the weekend.
I ended up getting cabin fever, changed my plan and aggressively signed up for St. Croix 70.3 and Ironman U.K. and set my goals to qualify for both the Clearwater and Hawaii World Championships. Then about 2 months later, Alice gave me "the hairy eyeball".
Turns out that money was getting tight. I spent about $14,000 on triathlons and travel the year previous. Then I bought a new bike early this year and she told me to "look at the numbers". I did a budget and realized that based on what I wanted to do and what I have coming in, it wasn't going to work. Things were starting to become financially tight. I needed to "bring the horns in".
I cancelled both races and it was a bonus that both entry fees were fully refundable. I reset my goals to focus on only long course racing and try to qualify for Clearwater. I went back to my original plan of only doing half Ironman's this year and peaking for Muskoka 70.3, where I figured I had a good shot to qualify for Clearwater.
In the end it was a good decision, financially and personally. It was a terrible Summer weather wise. It was cold. I think we only got 4 or 5 days over 30 C. It was tough enough tolerating 4 hour rides in that weather. It would have been most un-enjoyable to do 7 hour rides. The year before, training for Louisville, all I had was 30 C days. Which was great because I love riding in heat.
This year I lost some of my body firmness from Ironman training. I cut down the amount I spent swimming by about 40%, my upper body didn't look as svelte. Yet, I got faster in the pool and was less burnt out. I went from a 1:55 per 100 meters racing to as low as 1:49 per 100 meters. Last year I found that swimming 3 days a week and doing long swims of 5000 - 6000 meters was the cause of most of the burnout. This year, swimming less, I had less burnout and faster times. It doesn't get any better than that.
My cycling stayed the same, maybe a little faster, and my running really improved. Long runs went from a 9 minute pace to an 8 minute pace. Same with my track work. It went from 6:35 per mile down to as low as 5:58 per mile. The best was my half marathon went from a 1:32 to a 1:27 and broke a PB I set in my 20's.
This year's training was also mentally easier. Last year was my first year on the Mark Allen Online program and the volume of training was much greater than anything I had ever done. There was a LOT of dig deep days to keep on track. Thank God for beer and getting drunk to be my reset button. This year was different. I was used to the training and didn't have anywhere near the level of burnout.
Even though I was training for half Ironman's, the training volume isn't that much less than full Ironmans. I think it was easier because I knew what to expect and had full confidence I could do it. I became used to doing lots of training and if I didn't train it was a weird sensation. Training kept me in a routine and mentally balanced.
The best was achieving my goal of qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater Florida. But it didn't unfold as I thought it would. I had a great first race of the year at Muskoka long course. If anything I went to hard on the bike. After only 20 km's my legs were hurting. I fought through it and ended up averaging 35 kph on an extremely hilly course. Then I ran 10 miles at a 7:03 pace and fought through the pain. After the first 3 miles I had nothing in my legs and still maintained the pace. During that race I almost wiped out twice due to reckless bike riding in order to get a faster time. For future races, I learnt not to be stupid. The time I'd gain would only be seconds, but easily could end in disaster.
I believe my legs paid for it. I went so hard, the sore feeling in my quads from the bike ride didn't go away for months. The race I was looking most forward to this year was the Morden Cornman, previously called the Tinman. It was the first triathlon I ever did back in 1986. I wanted to come back and blow my time away and hopefully get a top 3 finish in my age group and maybe even overall.
The race was a disaster. I threw out my back a few weeks before. I think from all the pressure I was putting on myself. On the bike I over-shot the turnaround point by 3.5 km's. I was in second place and the volunteer hadn't shown up to let me know where the turnaround was. It ended up being a 97 km bike ride for me and I had nothing on the run. It was my worst triathlon run of the year. I'll never do that race again, it was so bush league. But at least I did set a PB for that course and with an adjustment for the extra bike time, would have come in 4th overall and second in my age group.
I did learn something important after that race. Not to put pressure on myself. It's only a triathlon and a race. It should be fun. I was so focused on that race for weeks, it was no fun. I was so glad to get it over and vowed never to put that much pressure on myself again. The pressure ended up doing more harm that good.
I took my new found attitude into Steelhead 70.3 and qualified for Clearwater. I didn't even plan on doing it a couple weeks before. I showed up, no expectations, other than I wanted to break my PB on the bike. I didn't even really taper. If it wasn't for Craig Swayze from Grandville printing, I wouldn't have done it. He said "come tour our plant and do the race that weekend". I think I did set a PB on the bike, but not by much. Had it not been windy on the way back, I would have shattered it.
I finished 7th overall in my age group and got the last spot available for Clearwater. The emotional roller coaster waiting for the roll down and whether I'd make the cut was intense. It really added to the adventure and flavour. Finally getting it was one of the major highlights of my triathlon career. The best part is I really deserved it. My time was 4:41. The Sun, the stars and the moon were all in alignment that day. I felt no pressure before the race and was even having beers the night before.
By qualifying in Clearwater, the rest of my season was on coast mode. I trained and had no build up pressure for Muskoka. I did better in Muskoka than last year and could have even done better had I not had about 18 beers two days before and a massive hangover the day before. I was lucky to be semi-okay by race day. It was a stupid thing to do.
Clearwater was the race of my life. Intuitively I even stopped drinking beer a month before and 20 days before started eating healthy. No junk food or eating anything past 8 pm. I showed up ready. No weight issues. I even got the flu a couple of weeks before and I think that helped give me a better taper. I tried not to put pressure on myself, I learnt that lesson in Morden. My whole goal was to just finish, set a PB on the bike and get a finishers medal. There was definitely drama with my chain breaking with 12 km's left on the bike. But I still managed to set a PB on the bike and for a half Ironman.
This year my writing improved and my entries are more open and interesting. That first year I was self conscious when I wrote. I knew customers and employees were reading it and didn't know how much of my life I should disclose. Sometimes it took half an hour to do 4 or 5 paragraphs.
That changed. My writing goal this year was to try and write fluid. I figured if I could write that way it would be from my soul. It's taken me a while and for most of the year it was better, but only recently has it become more fluid. The more fluid it is, the less time it takes to write a post.
Overall, this year has been good. My family is used to my training. This year Alice and I both agreed it didn't feel like I trained that much, even though I did. Maybe it was because I was burnt out less and less tired. The only downside was my liver disease diagnosis. It freaked me out.
When your training lots, you think your in great shape. Inside and out. When I found out my GGT, AST and ASL levels were much higher than normal I became concerned. The main reason was because I didn't want to temper my lifestyle. Obviously the doctors said I need to stop my excessive beer drinking. They felt that was the cause of the problem.
I love mania. Always have. It's part of my brain chemistry. Drinking means inhibition and fun. At times it's also a coping mechanism. It's also motivation to train. If I drink beer and don't train, I'll get fat and I never want to be fat again. This year I got soft because I drank to much beer and ate poorly in July. It started during my holidays in Winnipeg.
Drinking beer is part of my identity. I have thought of quitting. I'm not their yet. The reason I say quitting and not tempering, is because I can't temper. Some people can have a few, I can't. I only have two switches. On or off. I can quit. I have in the past, once for 7 years. I did quit for a total of 39 days recently. It is easier for me to quit, than it is to temper. Maybe I need to set goals for myself, like 30 days off, 2 weekends on. Who knows.
Or I could risk it and die young. Which is also an option. I'm not adverse to it. I'd much rather have a full life with lots of fun, than a long life with little fun. I know that is a controversial statement and as I get older and my kids get older and if I have grand kids, I'll probably think it was a "really stupid" statement.
I've had lots of personal growth this year. I've become more balanced with work and personal life. I no longer feel guilty about going for a swim or workout at lunch. I find that if I'm getting too caught up in work I need to take a break. Training has helped me become for efficient and provided me with greater clarity at work. Training gives me time to think and when I have the plan fully thought out it doesn't take me much time to implement.
Physically I'm starting to take better care of myself. I want to do well and if I eat or drink to much I sabotage my training efforts. Two weeks of training gains can be ruined in a weekend. It's getting painful to experience and making me think twice about my destructive habits. I keep telling myself "Baby steps. Baby Steps".
This year I've started to feel at home in Ontario. After my last visit to Winnipeg and seeing how the City has deteriorated, it convinced me that we made the right decision to move here. I had almost 5 years of self doubt about the move. Alice didn't want to come to Ontario. I did. Yet, she adjusted much sooner. This year will be our first Christmas not going back to Winnipeg. It will just be the four of us. It was the kids choice and I was happy they made that choice. I didn't want to go back this year. We had already been back during the Summer.
Social marketing has become my new passion. I'm no longer interested in traditional sales. For a lot of years I sold face to face and it comes natural to me. Being in the traditional printing industry is like being in the "buggy whip" industry when the automobile was launched. With the explosion of the Internet, people don't need print anywhere near the levels they used to. Pre-Internet, I'd make sales calls and was welcomed. Now I make sales calls and feel like "Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman". All I need is the tweed jacket with patches on the elbows.
Print isn't dead. It's just different and we've made the required adjustments at work. He have high growth print products, but they are all Internet based. No longer is knowing how to sell face to face important, but knowing how market on the Internet is important. I've immersed myself into Internet and Social marketing. I've started to get a passion for it.
One of the things I really like about it, is that it doesn't require working the 9 am - 5 pm workday. You can do it anytime. Day or Night. It is the perfect job for Ironman training. Rather than working your training around your job, you can work your job around your training. Internet Marketing has really ignited my work passion this year. On most of my runs and rides, all I did was listen to Internet marketing podcasts. It felt like I was doing two great things at once. I was making my day longer and more productive.
Through training, the pool, twitter and my blog I've made new friendships. A couple are already deep. Others are getting there. Johan Stemmet is an interesting one, he's in South Africa. Following his blog all year has been great. Especially his posts from Hawaii, they were magical for me. I want to get back their so bad.
All of these new friendships have started by a common triathlon bond. The last time I started developing so many new friendships was when I was in my 20's and started doing triathlons. To this day, when I run into any of my long ago triathlon buddies, it's like time has stood still. The bond is still great and I started to experience the start of new friendship bonds this year.
The other highlight of this year has been to see the progress my daughter has been making. She had medical issues for the past two years and it set her back two years in school. Now things are better and she is "kicking ass". I'm very proud of her. She has great wisdom and always has, since she was a kid. We've never had a problem with her. Surprisingly, with me as her father, she rarely drinks and has never even come home drunk or embarrassed herself. I joke that it's reverse parenting style. I see strict parents and the kids are "hell raisers". I'm a "hell raiser" and my kids are as good as gold. Go figure. Obviously Alice has something to do with it.
In closing, it was a great year. My immediate and extended family is healthy, none of them died and everyone still loves each other. Lots of personal growth. New friendships. No regrets. Just learning opportunities. What more can you ask for. Looking forward to 2010!!!
Swim - 6.26 miles /10.01 km
Bike - 280.64 miles / 452.65 km
Run - 48.05 miles / 75.50 km
Total - 334.95 / 540.24
2008/2009 Totals (13 Months)
Swim Bike Run Gym Cal Mthly Tot