After my inspirational moment with the 2012 Olympics in August I began feverishly researching the net for anything I could find. Websites, videos, tips from athletes and coaches. What was this sport really and how do I get into it? I first stumbled across a group called the Lake Ontario Swim Team a group run by Rob Kent that organizes weekly open water swims and periodic races. He was very helpful when I contacted them and aided me in obtaining my first wet-suit an Exterra brand discounted through the club. Although I wanted to begin swimming with them when this all began back in August 2012, I quickly discovered after a couple solo swims in the lake that I was like a newborn baby in terms of my open water skills and stamina. I thanked Rob and promised to meet the club this summer after a winter of training.
|14 km on the hilly section of Around the Bay
I had been a short distance runner for a few years, just for fitness and had entered two 5 km races. The Run for the Grapes in around 2000 where I placed 69th and The Turkey Trot in 2009 where I made a respectable 21st overall, 2nd in my age group with a 23:45 (4:45 min/km). I say "respectable", because I had done exactly zero for training other than lace up my beat up Nike runners one or twice a week before. This was the first inkling I can remember when the thought that I might actually be able to compete as a runner crept into the back of my mind. I had never been able to run more than 5 km, due to knee and hip pain. Then found a video on The Evolution Running Technique. I had been what I now know to be referred to as a "heel striker". It's how I ran my whole life and as a child had a terrible aversion to playing in bare feet so had never learned to run with a fore foot landing. What I realized from evolution running (and confirmed by many other sources) is that I needed to completely relearn how to run. Landing on the fore foot or ball of your foot uses the Plantar Fascia (tendons in the arch), your Achilles and calf muscles to cushion the impact of running. It also uses "elastic recoil" an action performed by tendons that does not fatigue during uses. Basically how a spring stores energy when compressed and releases it again upon expansion. It changed my life or at least my running life. Unfortunately as I tend to do, I learned the technique and became overzealous and sprinted 3 km leaving my with a serious left calf strain. It would take the next 6 weeks of healing and slowly working my way back a quarter of a kilometer at a time to even reach my previous 5 km abilities only this time with correct running technique.
|I'm the dot in the center!
|Sorry cyclists, but I'm not sure I'll ever feel comfy in a spandex chamois.
The last component that fell into place and was really the key to this whole idea coming to fruition is meeting my girlfriend Christine. She was an integral part of this whole process although she refuses to admit it. Within the first few days of our meeting she presented me with her old road bike, a 2006 Specialized Sequoia known now as "The Silver Surfer". The next day she met me at MEC where I sat sheepishly as she taught and helped to pick out the cycling shoes and gear I would need to begin. I was even recommended to start with the "beginners" cleats for my shoes as that would help prevent an embarrassing topple over at stop lights when I tried to remove my shoe from the pedal. I had said I had a background in cross country mountain biking, but I had only done "the Squeezer", a local trail race a couple times and had not fared well. I was a free-ride or trick based mountain biker and had even obtained sponsorship from Kona bikes though a local St. Catharines shop call Liberty Cycle back in 2001. I loved dirt jumping and trail riding logs & rocks so I had only used skate shoes to ride in. After my first road ride ever with Chris I realized two very important things. I sucked and this "clipped in", long distance road riding was going to take some getting used to.