Wednesday, 30 September 2009


Winter training is a go.

Kicked off on Sunday with my first trip to the pool in 2 weeks, 7200m later I emerged with significantly heavier shoulders and a smile on my face. We're now on Wednesday and I've done my first long run of the season too, last night with the Metro Running club. This week will be a steady build before getting down to serious business next Monday, I've already covered quite a few meters in the pool though, some sore muscles for sure.

Did my first Yoga session of the winter on Monday evening, noticed my distinct lack of flexibility after 2 weeks off! Luckily the class was pretty mellow so it will give me a chance to ease back into the positions, coupled with my Pilates sessions on a Tuesday morning I should be a more complete and "at one" triathlete by the end of winter training.

The concepts of Yoga and Pilates were completely foreign to me a few years ago but I put my preconceptions aside and gave them both a try. Each one has huge advantages to all people, let alone athletes and I would recommend that everyone try them out at some point. Being more flexible, stable and strong person is a great combination. As a 15 year old or a 65 year old there will always be big benefits to being generally strong on your feet...even for guys. It can be intimidating starting up a practice seen to be for "girls" but you all need to man up, grab your yoga mats and head to a class. When it comes to well being and health sometimes pride has to be put aside!

Anyways, my post title today is "Team". Maybe it should be "The team" but I'm going with Team.

I get called out quite often by people when being asked about my training:
"So what are you working on right now in the pool Mike?"
"Well I guess we're getting ready for ..... race at the moment"
"What training you getting up to today dude?"
"I think we're swim, bike and running today"

As a lot of you know I train mostly by myself so everyone is always interested to whom I'm referring when I say "we". It's not intentional at all but I work so closely with my coach and feel he has such a huge impact on all my training I feel as if every session is a joint effort, even when I'm by myself.

This gets poked fun at quite a bit but I'm not changing my lingo. I guess having that perspective of my training is important to me, it's definitely a team effort from a lot of people, most importantly my coach. He works hard to put my sets together and structure my whole year, so it's only natural that I feel as if he has a serious interest in how I complete those sessions and go about my season.
Without that I don't know if I would do myself justice in training.

But it's not just my coach, I feel as if there are many people who care that I'm training well and in the right way. If I wasn't doing that I'd be letting a lot of people down, most of all myself. I guess it's one of the ways I keep myself going, it's very easy to wimp out at times, so without added encouragement there are plenty of days that I'd stay in bed. I'm pretty lucky to have plenty of extra words of encouragement from all over when I need them, I've already called on a few people's wise words already and it's only day 4 of winter training!

It can be applied to everything you do though, when you get the feeling of being isolated and alone it is very easy to lose hope and not do justice to what you're aiming for. I've learned this from the team I keep around me in sport but I see it everywhere when people are trying to do something that takes big sacrifices. Look at the group of support people call on when trying to quit smoking? Or overcome an illness? It's similar to the guys I have around me now, sponsors, coaches, physios, nutritionists, friends and family. All there to give me a hand when I'm struggling...which can be on a daily basis!
(some of my team in full force at the Vancouver triathlon)

I talk about my team quite a lot but they are there for me every day and I really appreciate it. Whether you're trying to lose some weight, quit drinking as much or trying to be a world class athlete we all need a bit of help, I'm happy to admit I need help at times and it's important to realise that.

A 1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km is hard enough, let alone trying to do it all by yourself.


Wednesday, 23 September 2009

That time again.

Here we go.

2010 season is about to start, after a short yet good break from training I'm back at the starting line for another long winter. There are still a few days left of my holiday before I start my first block of the winter but I woke up yesterday feeling like I'd had enough of the off season. I didn't head out and start riding my bike madly up and down the street but I did ditch the junk food I'd been snacking on over the past week and began to refocus for the winter.

Last winter rocked and I had a solid 7 months in Vancouver uninterrupted, that's what I'm looking for again and will do my best to find it. I feel even more motivated that I was at the same point last year and will definitely have less distractions in Aberdeen. Living on campus at UBC meant there were plenty of those, but they added a lot to my year and made it awesomely fun. I'll be back there in no time so until then it's head down, hard work and lots of it.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


Back in Scotland.

For a few months too, at least until next spring, when I graduate with my degree in Mechanical Engineering. So with a good 6 month stint ahead of me in Scotland I've got plenty of time to reflect on the past year, plan for the winter months, plan for the 2010 season and beyond.

I am still in a bit of a daze as I sit in my old bedroom, half unpacked, the last 15 months worth of mail sitting unopened on my desk and plenty of new kit strewn over my bed looking for a place to go. It looks as if it will be another 2 weeks till I start classes, that will probably mark the kick off of training heading into the winter also. Can't wait to see my schedule and how it will compare to what I was doing in Van last year, being able to live on campus made life so much easier in terms of training, with no travel time between "home" and classes. This year could be interesting.

I am half considering cycling to class each day (80minutes return) but that raises the question of how do I get my books there? will they just be junk miles? will I smell all day? so even now I'm talking myself out of it! I guess I won't know much more until I see my timetable, but I'm really looking forward to sitting down with el coach and planning out the next 6 months.

Settling back into "family life" will no doubt take a while too, after having been my own boss over the past year I'll slowly get used to allowing my mum to run the show. That said I won't be around too much with training, class and the weekends away, but it will still be nice to have clean clothes and food made for me ... gotta love home :)

Enjoying a few weeks off as we speak, got a lot of recovery planned with my physio starting tomorrow, hopefully will get me back to fighting fit for the start of full winter training. Spending plenty of time out and about though, last week I ran up Grouse mountain twice, rode my bike for a few hours and spent all day Saturday kayaking, this week will be a bit more relaxed but mum has a 3 hour walk planned for the morning!


Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Vancouver Triathlon - 3rd overall


whoo, after a killer 53! weeks of training, I can now close the book on the 2008/2009 season. I could go on for hours about what it's taken to get through this year but really it comes down to a kick ass coach and consistency. Thanks coach...and thanks consistency.

The race yesterday was great fun, the Vancouver event is awesome with a huge number of guys showing up and giving it a go. Stanely park where it is hosted is a terrific location, fully closed roads and a great run course through the park with the crowd managing to get VERY close which is cool, gives you some extra motivation dodging the occasional obsessed triathlon fan ...maybe more like angry dog walker but we can all dream :)

My new friend Andrew Russell showed up, he raced with me at ITU a few weeks back here in BC and really all I remember of him from that race is seeing his butt in front of me during the swim and being lapped by him on the run...he is quick. So off we went into the water. I was quickly aware that at the 250m mark I had a buddy on my heels, not touching my feet which was nice but a few seconds back.

It was a two lap swim so I thought I'd put on the pressure a bit more during the second lap, for sure it was faster but the fish behind me managed to keep my toes. Oh well I thought, who knows who it could be. Off I run into transition in first place (the crowd on the beach was intense and thanks for all the cheers, it's pretty cool swimming into the beach and all you can see is a couple of hundred people). Out of my wetsuit, helmet on, ignore the cheers of my friends (its very easy to get distracted!) and out onto the bike. Ah I thought, that's why he kept up with me. The second I run past the number 2 swimmer I see the name on his trisuit "RUSSELL"...that makes sense.

Off we go onto the bike course, 4 laps with a good hill on each lap. Raining by this point so I knew the descent would be interesting. Andy caught me by 5km and took a lead heading up the hill, I was going to be taking the first hill easy, the second time around a bit harder...building up to a max effort on the last lap. So I let him cycle away.

He built his lead to around 45 seconds by lap 3 but then I held it at that as I started to hammer it on the last lap.

Still in second place I got ready for T2, the crowds were awesome coming off of the bike...and I did notice a certain Speed Theory crew basically in the road cheering me off the bike (thanks for coming). Into the Newtons and out onto the run course.

Half of UBC had come down to watch which was awesome as it makes a big difference once you're out onto the run.

For the first time ever I actually didn't feel too bad, my legs were in good shape and I was moving along quite nicely, this all changed at the 7km mark however when I actually started to move along quite quickly! An alien feeling for me as I'm sure you all know but I made the most of it, pushing the pace and (though now in 3rd place) making sure I didn't get pushed any further down the positions (prize money was only for top 3). It was a great feeling for the first time ever being able to finish strong over the last half of the run.

It's been a long hard season but I've had a great time with some really encouraging results. My run has been slow but I kept hearing the same things,

"Don't worry Mike the run will come with time"

which was fine, I didn't mind that, I knew it would come. I have too much work to do on that portion that hasn't even started yet so I knew we would make progress. That said, you like to see little improvements every day, no matter how small. New York was one of them, I broke the 40 minute mark, not fast, but not walking either. Yesterday was the biggest jump by far, a 37.

For me that made my season and now I can head into the WINTER with a smile on my face...

...and a pretty big smile at that.


Friday, 4 September 2009

Vancouver Triathlon

All settled back onto campus here at UBC, unfortunately it's not for long, my flight home is in a little over a week.

Main thing on my mind is my last race of the season, early Monday morning in Stanely Park. The last year has gone by insanely fast, I can vividly remember writing a similar blog post 52 weeks ago on the Friday before the tri last September. Last year I was coming to the end of my first age group season and Vancouver was my last big race of the year, I took it out hard, led onto the bike and held the lead ... if just, for the whole race. My first overall win :-)

This year I'm in way better shape and coming off of a much bigger season but it is a longer race this year, the full distance as apposed to last years sprint. It was a rapid field that lined up for the Oly distance last year and I have no doubt it will be similar in 09, THREE sub 2 hour athletes finished, so I'll have to get a move on.

Not sure why I continue to "course recce" Stanely park, I've raced in it now 3 times and will ride the course at least once a week when I'm in town, but as a force of habit I headed down that way this morning and went over the laps once more. A few new potholes have appeared but nothing drastic. Main things that scared me were the crazy woman on the roundabout who simply pulled out obviously not seeing me, had to bump over the curb on the centre island...and the insane speed wobble I had while heading over the back side of the park down the hill. Must remember to be safe these days.

Everyone is slowly but surely flocking back to UBC so I'm looking forward to seeing everyone again over the next week. That said I'm also starting to look forward to heading back home and seeing everyone I've missed over the past 15 months. It will be a good winter no doubt back home in Scotland. I just hope everyone is prepared to put up with me hounding them rain or snow to train over the winter months!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Ironman Canada

Finally back at UBC, where I've spent most of the past 12 months, for another 2 weeks.

I've got one more race to get through next Monday, the Vancouver triathlon, one I did at the end of last season too. Last year I managed to win the sprint event and this year I'll take on the Olympic distance. It was won in well under 2 hours last year though so it might be a tough one!

This weekend I was up in Penticton again with Speed Theory but this time to watch Ironman Canada. My first Ironman and one of the first times I'd just spectated a triathlon.

It was amazing.

You'll have to go into the shop and ask Jeremy yourself, I was going nuts. The first 12 hours were pretty cool I admit but once we hit 9 o'clock and the guys started coming in after 14 hours it got really cool. By that time the sun had gone down, the lights were on and the music was blasting. I was cheering every athlete on, out in the street clapping and shouting at every last guy and girl who ran past. We were standing at mile 25.5 of the run so the runners passing had less than a mile to go...after racing over 139. Pretty intense.

To see the faces of the athletes as they went past, 15 hours in, was something else. Countless guys looked across with that look of "I'm actually going to finish this" or "thanks for the support bud". A very cool experience and I'd recommend it to everyone...especially the year I end up doing it, I'll need the support :)

Was staying with the awesome McCoy's all weekend too, their two kids rock and have more energy than most triathletes I know! I had a great time keeping them entertained and look forward to being their climbing frame again in the future.

Learning from one generation...
And teaching another :)