August 2020 a Month in Review

I’ve been doing a bit of thinking about what direction I want to take this blog lately. With that, I’ve decided to move from a not so regular, week in review post, to a month in review post format, where I can provide more detail on the month. By doing this I hope to allow to focus on my journey from couch potato to half ironman, including writing detailed reports on all my current and past adventures and races.

What have I been writing this month?

Four posts went up, including a post about purchasing my first mountain bike and my first mountain bike race, the Hardwood SingleTrack Classic in 2014. Along with three other posts about biking the Simcoe County Loop Trail and completing my main event for the summer, the Cannonball 300 Bikepacking Route.

I also wrote two posts for my HR and Technology focused blog that explores theĀ Four Critical Factors That Drive IT Project Success, and theĀ Business Benefits Of Embracing Work From Home.

What’s interested me?

On our way up to Grundy Lake Provincial Park, late in July, I was listening to an interview with Joe De Sena, the owner of both Tough Mudder and Spartan Races. In it, De Sena talked about something he learned from a neurosurgeon he once employed that reinforces the importance of finishing what you started, especially the most challenging things you do. According to this neurosurgeon, when you take on something hard and don’t finish it, it leaves a measurable gap in the brain, like missing train tracks. Alternatively, when you complete these challenging tasks, you build tracks in the mind that enable the confidence, that lead to future success.

What have I been reading?

Origin Story by David Christian 

One of my favourite books of all time is Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. In A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill tells the story of our universe, along with a variety of side stories about the people who made the various discoveries along the way. It’s interesting, factual, funny, easy to read, and very entertaining.

Where A Short History is an easy read, Origin Story, is a bit more in-depth read, without being overly complicated. In Origin Story, David explains the science behind the big bang, the theories behind how life came to be from nothing, how it grew in complexity, and how we have ended up where we are today. In the final chapter, David provides his predictions for the future, including the importance of urgently finding solutions to the many problems we face, especially climate change.  

How has returning to running been, after four months off due to injury?

As you may recall, on my final ski run of the season, earlier in March, I broke my heel and was not able to return to running until eight weeks ago, the longest gap I’ve had since 2014. The return to running has not been as fast, or as easy, as I had hoped, however, in looking at Garmin Connect, perhaps not as bad as I have perceived either.  

To run a quick comparison in 2019, I was running an average of 120km a month, at a 5:00 min/km pace. In July 2020, my first month back, I ran 80km at a 5:29 pace, with a screaming HR, and every km hurting. In August 2020, there was some improvement with 78km, a more normal HR, and a slightly faster pace of 5:12.

My issue now is the level of effort required to get me there. In the past, holding a 5:00 min pace for an hour was easy, and it would only get hard when running anything longer than 16km.  

This year, trying to maintain a 5:00 min pace for 10km is taking all my effort both mentally and physically. I’m now running less distance, at what feels like a race pace, to achieve my old easy run pace.  

My goal for September will be to up the distance to 100km, while also slowly increasing my long runs from one hour to one hour and twenty minutes. I will also be adding in a weekly interval session switching between high-intensity track sessions, and 10km runs with 4x1km intervals, with the intent of increasing my pace. 

If all goes to plan, I hope to get myself in a position to run a sub 45min, 10km, by the end of October.

How did cycling go this month?

Before I get into the harder core training stuff, I would call out that I had a fantastic ride with the family down the Leslie Street Spit, to the lighthouse and back. If you are looking for an easy, accessible ride to do with the family this is definitely it.

View of Toronto skyline from the end of the Leslie Street Spit

The summer of 2020 has been a strange one. In a typical summer I would be building out my long runs, and focusing on my cycling strength, in preparation for the Niagara Falls Barrelman Half-Ironman.  

With no races on the calendar, I pivoted to bikepacking, completing the Simcoe County Loop Trail, and the Cannonball 300 bikepacking routes.  

Murals on Abandoned Silos, Waterford, Ontario
Murals on Abandoned Silos, Waterford, Ontario

Through bikepacking, I have learned more about my errors in fueling and nutrition than I ever did in triathlon. In the past, in any races of distance, I would eat one gel or equivalent an hour, along with a bottle of Gatorade and one bottle of water every three hours.  

In preparation for bikepacking and the Cannonball 300, I started to extend out my long rides, and that quickly pointed out the errors in my ways, with hard bonks at six hours, or poor recovery from shorter rides. I’ve now discovered that if I want to avoid the bonk, and feel good after my ride, I need to drink at least a bottle of electrolytes an hour while also targeting 400 calories of easily accessible food or drink.

With two days left in the month, I discovered that I was only 130km away from hitting 1,000km in August. With a new stretch goal in sight, I decided to see what I could do, knocking off 55km on Sunday, followed by 20km more on Monday. With 55km to go, my legs had enough. In the end, I hit 946km eclipsing my previous best of 672km.

Any new events planned for 2020?

Fresh off the success of the Cannonball 300, and with September fast approaching I decided to look for one last challenge in 2020 and have now set my sites on the Durham Destroyer – I’m Not Worthy Route later in September.

After which I will transition the focus to running and a sub 45min, 10km.

Thanks for reading,

Cory

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