Bumps & Bruises Part II + MultiSport Canada Toronto Island Race Report

Bumps & Bruises -- Part II

One of my goals this season is to stay healthy and injury-free.  It's a goal I set last year as well, borne out of my experience in 2013 with stress fractures/reactions in both lower shins.  Unfortunately, I'm now battling that familiar foe again...

As I described in a post called Bumps & Bruises back in April 2015, I faced some challenges earlier this year. With the help of my physiotherapist and chiropractor, I rebounded past those issues and dove into the season.  In the background, another issue was lurking. 

In late 2014, I was thrown a curve ball when I began having stomach pain that would begin overnight and carry through until after I had eaten breakfast.  It felt like the acid had pooled on one side of my stomach overnight and was eating through the lining.  After a barrage of tests, the doctors ruled out serious problems.  I was diagnosed with irritation of the stomach lining, put on a GERD diet and given acid reduction medications, to allow my stomach time to heal.  

I quickly learned that a GERD diet rules out a lot of choices.  In summary, you shouldn't consume: tomato sauce/products, spicy foods, citrus fruits, garlic/onions, caffeinated products, mint, carbonated products, chocolate, alcohol and high fat foods.  "What does that leave?" I asked, noting that my for Thai, Italian and Indian cuisines wouldn't meet those dietary restrictions.  I'm still figuring out what works and what doesn't.  Ideally, after following the diet properly for long enough, my stomach will heal and I can begin working some of those foods back in. 

In the meantime, I believe a side effect of my acid reduction medication has contributed to two more injuries this year.  Just recently, I learned that my medication can result in magnesium and calcium deficiencies.  Coincidentally, I've had muscle fatigue and pain in my quads, which interfered with my cycling and even made ascending stairs  an effort.  It was was remedied with magnesium supplementation.  In late July / early August, a sensation similar to the stress reactions in my shins returned, despite no drastic change in my training load.  

As a result, I've quit the medication and renewed my concentration on following the diet.  So far, so good, and very little pain in the mornings.  I am supplementing with magnesium, calcium and branch chain amino acids to try and kick these injuries.  

That leads me to my most recent race.

Toronto Island Race Report

Following the Bracebridge duathlon on August 9th, I decided that I would do no running until my shins had stopped hurting for at least a seven days in a row.  When they were still aching the week before the Toronto Island race, I recruited my partner Rob and switched to the duathlon relay, with him running and me cycling.  

Rob was perhaps a little reluctant, because he hasn't been running as much as usual because of work commitments.  But he agreed and we were (literally) off to the races.

I was a bit disappointed to be pulling out of one of my favourite races, but I focused on the bright side: I would get to focus on the bike split.  I've been working hard at improving my cycling by following the increasingly aggressive training plan laid out by Coach Roger, getting a RETUL bike fit at the ever-awesome Sweet Pete's and then seeking advice from fellow duathletes like Daryl Flacks and Jesse Bauer.

Me at Sweet Pete's for my RETUL bike fit. 

The day of the race, I quickly realized how much less stressful it is to do the relay and shared that with the world.  I hope I wasn't too obnoxious mentioning that to everyone I saw!  It was great because I got to participate, but still had lots of time (and energy) to cheer on friends and teammates, and take a few pictures too. Okay, I admit it, I took way more than a few pictures. Perhaps My Sports Shooter needs an assistant?

Duathlon wave 1 about to start - serious faces!

Garvin Moses running hard.

Jason Vurma of MultiSport Canada hosts the race briefing for relay participants and wave 3.
There were droves of first-time duathletes at the event - a great sign for multisport!

Ignition Fitness teammate Mikael Staer Nathan rocking the sprint triathlon.

In addition to taking lots of pictures, I had plenty of time to chat with other athletes and spectators.  It was great to speak with Karri Beck in person and to hang out with Jade Carrington, before she went on to win the women's sprint duathlon again this year - her third time in a row!  Mikael shared some cycling gear tips and I caught up with his partner Lauren, and met their dog Pancake.  

Back to the relay... We christened ourselves The Minions and prepared to do battle with Coach Roger, who with a friend of his was competing under the Team Ignition Fitness banner. 

Rob went out hard on the run, pushing a fast pace as the temperatures began to rise.  He made good progress against the other wave three athletes, but wasn't able to keep up with the fleet-footed Jason Ng of Team Ignition Fitness, who threw down a sub-20:00 5 km.

As Rob handed off the timing chip, I went to work, trying to chase down Roger on the bike course.  The congestion on the course wasn't as bad as I had imagined it would be at that hour (our race started at almost 9:00 a.m.), but it still slowed me down. 

My final 20 km split time of 32:37 was 1:12 slower than Roger's and it exactly matched my split time from the 2014 duathlon.  That left me scratching my head, considering I was cycling on fresh legs and had put in another year of training...  was the congestion on the course really that bad?  One takeaway is that I can't trust perceived effort on the bike and have to keep pushing harder - a theme that is consistent throughout my races and observations on this blog.  In fact, what I do need to trust is my training, knowing that I can manage the pain and last the entire distance. 

Regardless, as Rob headed out to complete the final 2.5 km run, we both heard announcer Steve Fleck proclaim Team Ignition Fitness the winners of the duathlon relay.  Ah well, if we had to lose, at least it was to the coach!  It was such a blast to race alongside Rob and I hope we can do it again soon.

Post-race selfie with Rob.

Following the race, we were so busy relaxing and chatting that we didn't check the results, which meant we were completely surprised to learn that we had placed third in the relay. 

Duathlon relay podium.

The Toronto Island race always brings out a decent crowd of Ignition Fitness athletes and this year, we were well represented again -- including on the podium.

Susan Hockley and me. 

While I was thrilled to be able to race on the island again this year, especially alongside Rob, it was also a bittersweet experience, because this race means the season is coming to an end.  In fact, it was my last event with MultiSport Canada in 2015.  My thanks to John, Jason and the entire crew of staff and volunteers within the organization.  You consistently put on high calibre events that attract top notch athletes, but still manage to have a warm and welcoming vibe.  It was the Toronto Island duathlon way back in 2007 that got me hooked on this sport and so this venue will always have a soft spot in my heart.

Toronto Island 2007 - first duathlon ever.  
I hurt for a month afterward, but came back for more!

Next up, I will be racing the Canadian National Standard Distance Duathlon Championships in Montreal.  I'm focusing on building bike strength and resting my shins for what promises to be an intense competition.  See you out there!