Thursday, March 29, 2012

Training Camp (it's Cuba....)

I rang in the New Year in NYC extremely excited at the idea of a training camp in Cuba with a group of Canadian athletes.  While New Year’s Day allowed for a hassle free border crossing, the strict baggage weight limits at the airport did not! After about 2 hours of hassling with the Sunwing representative about our Cuban bound baggage allowance and still exhausted from my hasty packing spree and US exit the day before, I quickly fell asleep as soon as the plane was airborne. What had begun as a treacherous journey turned into a quick and smooth flight. Upon landing, we were hurried through a quick transfer to the hotel and a late night check in followed by a snack, of course. Finally, it was off to bed to start the routine of resting, training, eating, training, napping, training, and eating. I would conveniently press the reset button every evening and get ready for the same thing the next day, over and over again for the following 2 weeks.

On the first day it was clear I was in the Caribbean, obvious by the fact of the unpredictable weather that seems to happen any time I seem to be in the area (no need for weather channel cause even they can’t seem to forecast it correctly). The first couple of days were a test of patients with everyone on a high from being on a warm than Canada weather and being out on the road rather than at the studio most seem to be antsy and just wanting to go pedal to the metal every time we hit the asphalt. Our first brick and tempo session went great hitting our times perfectly and the intensity worked perfectly into the program to level out all that extra energy we had from the being outside. 

Our first weekend promised to be an exciting adventure and it didn’t disappoint. With a ride to Havana from Varadero while being accompanied by the national girls team and their Head Coach. We were sharply pick up at 8h30 by the time we finished with introduction and loading the pickup with all our bags and gears we were out on the road by 9h00 and what a beautiful day it was to ride, even though the tail wind we had been hoping for was nonexistent, which made the trip that much longer than anticipated. We were able to sightsee a bit, crossing on of Cuba’s tallest bridge and a couple of pit stop thanks to some unexpected mechanical issues (slash tires). Spirits were high for most of the ride but it was unfortunate that communication between the group wasn’t able to happen, neither spoke each other’s language and weren’t able to find a common on either and the fun of sign language quickly wore out, so eventually 5hrs into the ride people started losing it a bit and so the pace was hasten to finish the exhausting trip.  It was a good thing we took the sightseeing route into Havana, a local boat ride and a rode through a local neighborhoods, made everyone pretty happy but once that was done it was back to the “are we there yet?” feeling.  Luckily our host was kind enough to have a couple of large pizzas waiting for us and even though they were on the cold side, since the ETA of 5hrs ride became 6hrs30, we were still happy to chow down something other than energy bars, gel, gummy and energy drinks. 

After analyzing and comparing out new cycling tan lines it was off to get a tour of Havana on the back of the pickup truck which was a very welcome change from Varadero. Even though we had limited time and not a lot of energy, since we had an early training session the morning after, it was great to see the old Havana and its Vibrant Malecon on Saturday nights. Our Sunday work out at the beach was great and made even better with the company of the Cuban national girls team.  Our track session afterwards although tough was still enjoyable, even with the strong winds. Our turnaround was a quick one not much time to enjoy Havana at its fullest, which was a shame since Havana had so much to offer. Our trip back took longer than expected with so many stops along the way (seems to be it took us longer than on the bike) And that screwed up our night (like not being on time for our dinner reservations at the sushi restaurant in the hotel) 

Our last week started with another long ride/ run combo again the choppy weather made a difficult for our ocean dip so we were left to adjust and add on the time to what was already a long day of riding. After realizing what an easy day Tuesday was going to be we (I mean me) decided to let loose at dinner, which in retrospect may not have been a good idea but still it happened and as much fun as it was fun we still had to train the next day. With just short intensity on the bike and an afternoon swim, it was a welcome day before the brick, which had the course planned since the girls had been there the year before. 

On the rest day it was decided to go do touristy stuff, which in Cuba meant renting a couple of scooter and going sightseeing.  The spot that was pick, from before we got into the plane I may add, was The Saturn Cave which thanks to the fact that it wasn’t high season at least for the cave meant that we had our own little private tour and even with a couple of setbacks turned out to be quite a fun day.  Our last brick of training camp were ruined by another unreasonable sea with heavy winds and so it was another red flag at shore day. In the end we set for doing duathlons and knowing it was going to be my last work out with the guys I decided to leave them with a bit of a sour taste in the mouth and out do them on the very last one which worked very well (lucky me ;)) and since we gotten to know each other very well it wasn’t taken the wrong way. 

Well I leaving you with some pics and videos, still expect a video from Gabe Go Pro Camera, so as soon as I get I’ll post it.

On our way out
First run

half way on our way to Havana
people starting to get antsy

the boat ride into Havana (no sharp object allowed)

After climbing a 1k 20%plus hill

Doing some sightseeing @ the Cave
Fun just before (sorry inside joke)
the scooter gang (yeah i know cliche)

Long Overdue ;)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Full Weekend Ahead

Despite a bit of stumble on Thursday (I literally flew over the handlebars while cruising at 5kph) which left me checking my bike and taking care of  the bruises on my hand and and my knee after hitting it on the handlebars, my weekend was full steam ahead…It started with a double header at the Provincial Swim Champs in the 400 IM and the 1500 freestyle with back to back swims. My 400 IM went as planned; uncontested, but I still had to play smart and not waste unnecessary energy since I had the 1500 immediately following. And so still reeling from my 400 IM, I found myself on the start block for the 1500m and decided that I would go out with the field and that as soon as I chance to open a gap I would take it. This did not happen until the 500m mark when little by little I was able to break free from my pursuer and shake him; once I had a body length, the gap quickly grew until it was insurmountable. My times weren’t great but with a full weekend ahead of me, I knew being smart and conserving energy outranked P.Bs.
Next was a bit of a transition day, since I only had the 200m and 100m free and the 4x100m freestyle relay to contest. It was all pretty smooth sailing, though, my speed definitely isn’t up there with the top guys, I still was able to snatch a 3rd on the 200m. The 100 was a slightly different story; I was only able to crack the top 8, but at the end of the day I was walked away with a gold medal in the 4x100 free relay and the team was able to execute and maintain the lead through the race.   The day ended with a light activation on the run to set the non drafting Olympic triathlon the next day.
It was an early morning wakeup call on Sunday since the race required a bit of traveling, but after a good night’s sleep (so tired that I fell asleep as soon as I hit the pillow), the early morning start didn`t seem so bad. It was a breeze to set up transition and get a good warm up on the beach (really needed it since my arms seem to still be blocked from the 2 days of swim races). So after a quick briefing on the race day perils (sunny and not a cloud in sight – but lots of tourists out on the course….), it was time to get going (so the heat wouldn’t eat us alive!!)  I was surprise by how fast the pace was off the start and had to play catch up to the first buoy. After getting to the front I set, what I thought was a high pace but was not able to drop my swim companion even after several attempts to get rid of him (doing the yoyo around the buoys and almost eating sand). So I was resorted to a quick transition and put on a high tempo to demoralize any hope of my pursuant giving chase on the bike. Though I would have preferred to leave my competition for dead, that didn`t seem to work the way I wanted (he tried to chase ardently, to no avail and ultimately paid for surpassing his limits on the chase). After those first 5k I settled into a steady rhythm just letting the gap open naturally over the 40k. So when coming off the bike my was once again to push hard and settle into a rhythm somewhere between race and a steady tempo and thanks to all those hours of training it was quite easy to find the pace I was looking for.  Even though my pursuant was running faster I still was able to maintain my lead all the way through the line.
After such a heavy weekend the only thing that was left was to get a nap in and start packing to head home where Christmas with the family waits.  Thanks to MultiSports Club, Atleta y Enmanuel Jimenez for the amazing pictures taking of the weekend that I’m able to put here today, also to Tri-Master and FEDOTRI for setting up such great events.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

National DR '11

After some uncomfortable travel; are the airlines making those coach seats smaller? I arrived in Santo Domingo. Arriving at 2am meant that I was ready to go sleep and leave the second part of the journey for another day. With some running around to be done to get my bike ready for the second leg of my travel it took almost the whole day to set, but in the end I was to ready to go and travel to Samana.
Upon arriving to Samana I was greeted by the provincial team president and shown to my apartment for the weekend. The weekend consisted of not only Nationals but an open water swim event the Saturday before the race; I was scheduled to do both.
The open water swim went quite well and the distance of 750m was suited for a good activation and some sustained threshold work to get me ready for the triathlon the next day. With no waves in sight, the smooth open water lulled me easily into a smooth rhythm like in the pool and allowed me to stick to it.  The race went off without a hitch even though we were racing late in the afternoon, which meant that the jelly fish were in full force, typical of the area of Samana.  After a fast start to race and some juggling for position I was able to take lead and maintain it to the end.
The next day, came the main event: the triathlon. After a quick start, I was able to open up a gap just before the 1st buoy. Maintaining my pace meant that I had a sizeable lead heading into T1. On the bike course I just worked on maintaining my gap in relation to my pursuers , and managed to hold them off until the last lap, when a torrential downpour started to wet the street and made bike handling with my slick tires very unnerving. After a couple of back wheel slides, I decided to be on the safe side even if it meant giving up some time, but it was too late, for on one of the roundabouts, I wasn’t able to steer the bike and headed straight up onto the side walk. Thanks to a little bit of luck and a lot of bike handling skills, I was able to bunny hop onto it and come out unharmed. That meant I lost almost all of my lead and continued losing time from that point because of my reluctance to take the corners anything but gingerly. By the time I headed into T2 my pursuers were right on my heels. It took me at least the first kilometer of the race to find my pace. By this  time I was on the cross country part of the course so I had to adapt my stride to the terrain, but after 2 laps I had widened my gap and was able to coast to victory. 

Thanks to ChampionSystem, OakleyRD and Strictly Bicycles for their support. Also to my training groups and training partners for getting back on track this summer.

Here are some pics from the race and a link if you feel like going through the album (pics taken by Enmanuel Jimenez Ayala)

Summer Hiatus

After a brief absence from the sport and from blogging due to injuries, I’ve gotten back to the routine of training.  On that note, let me take you on a short walk through this past summer and fall season. After a slow and arduous recovery from the middle of the season due to a motorcycle accident, I basically started from scratch again.  I spent the better part of my summer, pacing a friend and a young triathlon protégé and keeping Team Karma company on those long rides. All of this led me to join Montreal Endurance to begin improving and working on my own run again.  What a blast! With the help of teammates, Ryan, Simon, Sof and Phil, I found myself back on the start line this cross country season, something I haven’t done since high school.
 After doing some low key races to gauge my progress and consulting with my coach about the possibilities, I was persuaded to do a serious race. It was decided that the Buffalo ITU race, also the US National Elite Championships was the ideal race.  I knew my training had been going well but it was still unsure as to how I would react to being on a triathlon start line again. After a rocky start on the swim, I was left with one choice, to suck it up and make the most of my situation. Which I did. After a couple of laps of pushing hard on the bike to catch up to the chase pack, I was able to just sit in most of the remaining ride and save some energy for the run. Good fitness and a smart ride left my legs fresh for the 10k and that in the end made for a different race, one that I was happy with.
With Buffalo in the bag, the next target was to be Panama or Auckland and since both were on the same date a choice had to be made… so it was decided to put all our eggs into Auckland. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out, and I found myself out of time and out of races on the ITU calendar, despite all our efforts (mine, the training group and my coaches).

here are meadia files from the summer races 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sunshine and La Vuelta Independencia

It's been a little while since I last wrote. Since then I moved my training session to D.R. just for the fact that weather is more outdoor training friendly, I still train mostly by myself, but is a bit more motivating when is all sunshine and 30 degree weather. I also recently was able to participate in La Vuelta Indepencia, it was taken as big training block of cycling and it was a nice change of pace from my regular training. It helped me work on my top end speed which was a bit lacking since I haven't been working on it. But now since the vuelta is over I've gotten since and been missing a couple of days of training, but I like to think my body need the rest to recuperate from the intensity of the vuelta.  Looking forward to getting back on track with the training and be ready for the beginning of the season. here is a pic suffering while on the cat 2 climb:

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Montreal, Canada.

So after a week of test in Canada of test, I'm back to regular training. I'm not so happy with the test results, if i were to look at them from a different perspective, there are good parameters for the season. I did enjoy my time with the karma squad and the Quebec provincial team, there a great group of people. One of the drawbacks of Montreal is definitely the weather is just not the type of weather to be training for the summer Olympics. Here is pic while riding on the Velotron:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Year, New Beginning

So this is a brand new year, new coach, new support and new mentality. Not everything is brand new, but some important things have change for the good, whatever has not change needed not changing and so it stays. I'm looking forward to whatever this year brings and hope everyone has a grand year that exceeds all expectations!