Archive for the Triathlon Category

Race Season Managment: Logic vs. Ego

Posted in Lessons Learned, Paleo Athlete, Training on May 8, 2012 by Living Against the Grain

Last Sunday was the BMO Vancouver Marathon. Let me begin by saying, this event was amazing and I totally recommend it for anyone looking for an early season marathon on the West coast.  The course is beautiful and the organization is flawless. 

Anyways, I entered the race to help fine tune my run prior to Ironman Coure D’Alene on June 24th. 

Although I haven’t been training specifically for a marathon my goal was sub 3 hours.  I didn’t know if I had the fitness to pull it off but with my recent half marathon results I thought it was possible.

– 1:26:09 at the ‘My First Half Marathon’ in February (Vancouver, BC)

– 1:26:25 at the ‘Fool’s Day Run’ in April (Sunshine Coast, BC)

I ran the first half comfortably in 1:30 and my goal was to negative split on the second half as the course was predominantly flat for the last 18km. Unfortunately I started to labour around the 28 km mark and my pace started to slow.  I soon realized my 3 hour finishing time was not going to be possible.  

I hit the 30 km mark and was still cruising at around a 4:30/km pace but knew the last 10km was going to be a fight.  A 3:10 finish was still obtainable but with the 3 hour mark out of grasp, I decided to call it quits at 32km to avoid having to endure a lengthy recovery period.

Instead of finishing the marathon, I ran 32km, in 2hours, 19 minutes and followed it up with some lunch, a hot tub, and a solid afternoon training ride on the tri bike with some friends.

It was hard to drop out the race but I made the smart choice.  Running those last 10km would have put a huge dent in my next three week training block which is really the most important training time I have before ironman.

Congrats to all of those who finished! It was a beautiful course and a perfect day for a race.  


What is the major take away from this experience?  Listen to your body and remember what your goals are.  A triathlete needs to train like a triathlete.  Training like a runner + cyclist + swimmer will only serve to sub optimize your overall performance in the sport of triathlon.  Sure it sucks to miss your goal time, and it sucks even more to drop out of a race but you have to keep your priorities in mind and remember what the true goal(s) of your race season are…. and most importantly, keep it fun!

Looking forward to the next one!


Follow up on Feb. 12th Half Marathon: Lessons Learned and Next Steps

Posted in Lessons Learned, Nutrition, Paleo Athlete, Training with tags on February 13, 2012 by Living Against the Grain

Today’s race was amazing. My finishing time wasn’t fantastic but the atmosphere was great, and the course was beautiful. It was rainy, but not too cold and the other competitors out there brought a great energy to the event.

I came across the finishing line in 1:26:08, a new PR in the half marathon by over 3 minutes, but admittedly, slower than I had set the cruise control for.

The goal time of 1:22 was a stretch but I really wanted to experiment with it.

Race strategy was two pronged:
1. Set a pace equivalent to 95% of my 10k PR and hammer it out for as long as I could until I couldn’t hold any longer.
– Reason: Test early season fitness identify weaknesses: Strength, speed,
mechanics, etc.
– Key take aways: Monitor when and where the pace became unsustainable and why.

2. – Drink only water and eat nothing
– Reason: Test body’s ability to metabolize fat during the race once glycogen stores had been depleted.
– Key take aways: Monitor when and where the shift from glycogen to fat occurred and test the efficiency of metabolizing
fat for energy.

Obviously you shouldn’t run two pronged experiment like this if its your A race of the season. By then, you should have everything figured out and dialled in. But today was a perfect opportunity.

I believe that self experimentation is a very important element to an athlete’s training plan. If you stay in your comfort zone, or always take down the same gels or sports drink its hard to see where your limiting factor is. Pushing out of your comfort zone allows you to see where your mechanics, strength, endurance or nutrition plan fails so sometimes, your best strategy is to just go for it and see what happens.

So I set my pace at roughly 3:50/km, fired up my POSE running technique, drank a little water at each aid station and stuck to my race plan.

Things were going well and I felt great for the first 15 km. I was right on pace, cruising along the Stanley Park sea wall and feeling fine. But the last 5-6 Km were a little slower than I had hoped.

Deciding to race without any high Glycemic Index gels or sports drinks may seem foolish to some, but my goal was to clearly indicate the point in the race in which my glycogen started to run out. I then wanted to gauge my body’s ability to efficiently metabolize fat for energy.

Why just read about this stuff in text books? I believe there’s some inherent value in going out and experimenting yourself!

To summarize my findings from today’s race: Things were cool and smooth until 15km.

– I average 3:49/km for this portion of the race and my energy levels were stable.

From Km 15-21 I was struggling to keep pace and my energy level dropped.

– I averaged only 4:05/km from KM 15 on.

The data I gathered today will now allow me to go back to the drawing board for my next 4-6 week training block.

– More stamina work, more strength work, and most importantly, GETTING THIS PALEO RACE DAY NUTRITION FIGURED OUT!

I think I’ll be experimenting with some of the stuff on this interesting blog post I just read:

If you have any insight for race day nutrition, please post in comments. Thanks!

2012 Race Season Begins with 21km around Vancouver’s Stanley Park

Posted in Rest and Relaxation, Training with tags , , , on February 12, 2012 by Living Against the Grain

After a short hiatus from the blogosphere I return with a short but pointed blog entry. To begin, I just want to say I hope you have all had a great start to 2012.

My 2012 race season begins tomorrow with a half marathon in Vancouver. BC. As a triathlete, my weakness is running so I have told myself I would focus this early part of the season on improving my run so that I am a more well rounded athlete for my main event: Ironman Coure D’Alene, on June 24th

Tomorrow’s race is the ‘My First Half Marathon‘ in Vancouver, BC. The course runs from the Yaletown community centre, around Stanley park and back. This course is flat, fast, and fun, and should be a great early season event.

A half marathon is 21km, so in preparation for such an event one could only assume my training plan has incorporated multiple long runs of 15+ km to get my body prepared for the demands placed upon it by running 21km.

This assumption however, is wrong. I have run only one long run in 2012 and it was a 10k two weeks ago that I ran in the rain on a cold afternoon weighing in at 196lbs. I started off at a slow tempo, found my grove around 2-3km in, and low and behold, ended up setting a new PR at 37:53. Needless to say, I was shocked.

My training over the past 6 weeks has been based first and foremost on the development of efficient movement patterns and technique, and then the development of strength, speed, power, and stamina.

I have been following the Crossfit Endurance protocol quite closely, involving 4-6 crossfit workouts, 3-4 strength and conditioning workouts (incorporating the conjugate strength method popularized by Louie Simmons at Westside Barbell) and 2-3 run workouts cycling through short intervals, long intervals, and one tempo or time trial each week. The programming on the crossfitendurance site is brilliant, I just tweak it ever so slightly to fit athletic goals and fitness level.

So all this talk and no action means very little. The intent is not to look at my run splits and say ‘wow this guy is fast.’ On the contrary. Any competitive runner would look at my times and say they are quite slow, and that person would be right. The point is, at almost 200lbs I have learned how to run fast, run efficiently, and train in a way that avoids repetitive stress injuries and keeps me looking forward to the next workout.

I am on to something new, something exciting, and something that we can all tap into. It’s the development of holistic strength and endurance through crossfit inspired exercises, that when done correctly, and with properly executed rest and recovery periods, can create new frontiers for athletic performance.

I’ll write an update tomorrow after the race.

Goal time for the 21k: 1:22:00

Review of the Vancouver Crossfit Endurance seminar on Oct. 1-2

Posted in Lessons Learned, Training on October 5, 2011 by Living Against the Grain

The Vancouver Crossfit Endurance seminar was led by Dan Hollingsworth, one of the head coaches for CFE, and hosted by Crossfit Vancouver. Dan was extremely knowledgeable, and he was a killer speaker. He kept the energy high and held the interest of the 25 attendees all weekend long. I learned a great deal of information over the two days and I am excited to apply what I learned to improve upon the results from my rookie triathlon season and help others achieve their athletic goals as well.

The seminar was a major eye opener for me personally because although I followed what I thought was a solid CFE training plan throughout my triathlon season, I really only tapped into a fraction of the potential this training system has.

Ideally a high end multisport athlete should be doing a 4-6 Crossfit and strength workouts a week, and supplementing that with 2 interval workouts per mode per week. A single sport athlete should do the same 4-6 crossfit workouts, and add on 2-3 interval sessions for their chosen sport.
Visit the website for more details on that.

The point is I didn’t do that. I should have, but I had only 6 months to learn the sport of triathlon, and prepare for an ironman. Therefore I focused mainly on doing the interval, tempo, and time trial workouts for the swim bike and run, at the expense of my 4-6 crossfit workouts. I still did a lot of strength work, did the strength and conditioning recovery workouts after races, and did 1-2 crossfit workouts per week, but without the intensity and constant variation from 4-6 crossfit workouts, you simply cannot maximize the potential that comes from this style of training.

Considering the results I was able to obtain, I am very excited to see what can happen when this program is followed by the book.

Back to the seminar……Both days contained a nice mix of class room style learning inside Crossfit Vancouver and practical application outside.

We focused a lot on running technique, paleo nutrition, mobility wod, and programming a CFE training plan for athletes of all abilities. Dan would break up each individual lecture component with running drills, video, video review, lunch, or simply a Q&A period.

Because it was a crossfit Endurance seminar it was only fitting that at the end of each day we did a Met Con style WOD.

If I were to add anything in regards to constructive criticism, the seminar was a little light on the science behind why this style of training is so effective.
That being said, all that type of information is available on the Crossfit Journal, on the CFE website, or in FUTURE exercise physiology text books :).
is also a great site for more science behind the correlation between intensity/strength training and endurance performance.

I highly recommend that you attend a CFE Seminar if you are able to do so. You will meet many great people and learn a lot of valuable information.

Overall the seminar was absolutely…..

Crossfit Endurance Seminar, Vancouver, BC Oct 1-2

Posted in Lessons Learned, Paleo Athlete, Training on October 3, 2011 by Living Against the Grain

Hi all,

I attended the Crossfit Endurance Seminar this past weekend in Vancouver, hosted by Crossfit Vancouver and led by Crossfit Endurance head coach Dan Hollingsworth. It was an amazing experience and I highly recommend attending one of these seminars in the future if its possible to do so.

More to come on my learnings and experiences at the seminar.

Look out Vancouver…. I am in discussion with some excellent people whom happen to be Crossfit gym owners here in Vancouver. The goal is to start up a CFE training program designed specifically for Single sport and multi sport athletes from all levels of performance and all ranges of primary goal events.

We are on the cusp of something huge here and its going to be an exciting year ahead.

Soldiers and visionairies

Interview with

Posted in Nutrition, Paleo Athlete, Triathlon on September 13, 2011 by Living Against the Grain

Holistic Nutritionist Jennifer Trecartin of based in Vancouver, BC featured my ironman journey on her outstanding blog. She is an amazing friend and incredible nutritionist. Check it out. We spoke about my start in triathlon and my appreciation of the paleo diet.

2011 Ironman Canada Race Recap

Posted in Lessons Learned, Triathlon on September 2, 2011 by Living Against the Grain

On Aug. 28, 2011 after 6 months of training, 4 practice races, and a boat load of knowledge and experience gained I completed my first Ironman triathlon, the 2011 Ironman Canada. It was an extremely hot and windy day in Penticton and although my race didn’t go completely as I had planned, I had a great time, it was an incredible experience, and it was a memorable end to my rookie triathlon season.

My parents, friends, and amazing girl were there to cheer me on and we all celebrated together at the finish line. I can’t thank them enough for all the support and encouragement they gave me throughout the last few months. So now onto the race recap!


The day began at 4am. I woke up, had some coffee, ate some bacon, hard boiled eggs, and drank a home-made smoothie. I arrived in Penticton at 5:15am, dropped off my two transition bags (which contained my swim to bike gear, and bike to run gear) and then proceeded to set up my bike with my race nutrition….. Or should I say, my not so effective, race nutrition (more on that later).

Pre-race with friend and fellow Competitor Kellen

On to the Swim: Time – 58:32, 9/126 (25-29 Age Group), 102/2880 (Overall)

I then put my wetsuit on and entered the water at 6:30 for a little warm up. Man oh man, was the water ever warm! I was sweating in my wetsuit and part of me wanted to take it off and swim without it. Nevertheless, I left it on (mostly because everyone else had one on) and chilled out in the shallow water waiting for my 7:00am start. The pros started at 6:45 and the next 15 minutes flew by. Before I new it, we had one minute to the start. I had a few quick laughs with the athletes around me and then bang! off we went. I was positioned front and centre with 2880 other ironman athletes behind and beside me. I thought I’d be able to swim straight out of the pack with a 200-300 meter sprint and have some solid clear water to use to find my rhythm. WAS I EVER MISTAKEN! The gun went and we all started swimming, and it was an absolutely mad house out there!

I had started 4 races prior to this one and had never imagined a swim could be so rough. Think UFC in a washing machine….. I tried to remain excited and positive throughout the swim, but it was really really hard. People on your left, on your right, in front, behind, smacking your face, your head, your feet… I even had one women swim over top of me and pull back on my shoulder… Not overall cool, but its all part of racing.

The swim/madness ensues!

All throughout this barrage, I just tried to remain calm, keep optimistic, and keep my heart rate down. The other challenging aspect of the swim was the heat. The water was pretty warm so I overheated in my wetsuit and by half way I was in a full out sweat. I thought about stopping to let cool water in but I just kept pushing on and hoping not to lose too much electrolytes through sweat before hitting the bike.

The swim finished well, with a nice space forming in the group I was swimming with. It was a nice break from the UFC style swimming I had grown so accustomed too :). I came out of the water in 58:32, good for 9th in my age group, 102 overall.

Exiting the water in 58:32

On to the Bike: 5:20:22, 9th/126 Age group, 111 Overall

The bike is by far my favourite part of triathlon. I exited the water excited and looking forward to the bike portion of the ironman. I settled into a rhythm early in the bike course, but was amazed by how much energy the swim had taken out of me. Although I had paced myself on the swim, I don’t think I accurately compensated for the the energy and electrolytes I lost. I say this because at about 40km into the bike I had a deep deep abdominal cramp that almost made me crash on the side of the road! I sat up in agony holding on with my left hand, and the pain was merciless. Eventually it subsided enough to let me resume the aero position and I just kept a close eye on it throughout the rest of the bike, trying to be careful not to trigger another spasm. Was it the heat? Was it nerves? Did I tweak it unknowingly in the swim? I don’t know, but it was a little extra race day adversity which added to the fun of it all!

So the bike continued on, and although it was bloody hot out and very windy, I had a really fun ride. I did however run out of energy at about 150km and rode the last 30km with what seemed like little chicken legs. I was pacing properly, I was eating and drinking, but I guess I had just not figured out my nutrition properly. Either way, I pushed through it, and gracefully let go of all ambitions to qualify for the World Champs in Kona on my first try. In a race this long, you gotta have all the elements figured out. I had fitness, I had pacing, but I simply didn’t have nutrition and hats off to my fellow competitors who did. They rocked it!

So into town we came, 5:20:22 after I started. I had tried to calm my heart as much as possible in the final 20km, to somehow re-ignite the fire and get my energy back, but it just didn’t seem to work. I didn’t get down though, heck I was having a blast out there. I looked forward to making it into transition 2, and getting out onto the run…. I also tried not to think about the 30 something degree temperatures awaiting.

Run: 4:14:38, 34/126 in age group, 454/2880 Overall

I hit the run out of T2 full of steam, or at least thats what I told myself I was feeling. In reality, I was flat. I saw my parents, friends, and amazing girl and had a few moments high fiving, and celebrating with them before heading out of town. My girl Emily even ran beside me for a few metres which was really awesome. In reality though, I was hurting and didn’t know how I was going to make it the whole 42 km!

Emily running along side me as I head out on the run course

My strategy was to manage and mitigate my fatigue as best as possible, and maintain enough energy to run the last 10km and finish strong. That is exactly what I did. People kept passing me, some quickly, some slowly, some looking great, some looking like they were on the limit. I was amazed and humbled by all of them, pushing on through the heat like it was a casual jog on any given day. I was tired, but I was also amazed because my muscles themselves felt fine. It was like I just didn’t have any gas in the tank.

FInally at the 30km mark I allowed myself to try the cola they were serving on course. I knew the pros drink the stuff so it must work, but I didn’t want to succumb to it. I hate pop for a few reasons, but mostly I just don’t like the idea of putting all those chemicals in your body. Honestly though, 30 seconds after I drank a small cup of the stuff, I felt amazing. I ran the final 12km at 4:45/km pace and finished the race in a full on sprint. Ya sure I had a super boost of energy when I entered town and saw my friends and family, but I have to give a tonne of credit to the good ole fashioned sugar and caffeine contained in cola. Its a wonder drug for endurance athletes!

Heading out on the run, hurting, but all smiles

Another plus on the run were my innov8 f-lite 195 minimalist running shoes. They are actually shoes used most often in crossfit gyms, but I love the pure minimalist, zero drop, no support, light weight nature of the shoe. Its proof that you don’t need big cumbersome running shoes to cushion and pad your feet. My feet felt great the entire race.

I finished in 10:38:01 and felt amazing. Being my first race at this distance I didn’t know how I’d feel, but I was just amazed.

First time ironman finisher, Tristan Jenkin, very stoked!

My training plan had prepared me so well that my legs felt incredible, and I had no muscle soreness anywhere! I couldn’t believe it. I went over the the food tent, grabbed some soup, fruit, and water, and chilled out with my team (my girlfriend had made t-shirts for everyone to wear).

My amazing team of friends and family!

Incredible friends

Will I do this race ever again. YES. Will I do anything different? Yes. I will train for a longer period of time, and I will make sure to figure out my nutrition properly. I learned you can wing it in the half iron distance, but you had better get your game plan figured out if you ever want to be a true top competitor at Ironman.

Me and my very proud parents

For all of those whom took the time to read this, thank you! I eat along the lines of the paleolithic diet, I train crossfit endurance, I love triathlon, and I encourage you to try it out for yourself. 8 hours a week, for 6 months and Ironman is obtainable!

As for the heat? I don’t know what to say… perhaps training in a Sauna would help? Good luck!