Posts by Derek Featherstone


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Last year, like other years that we’ve done IronMan Lake Placid, we experienced our traditional Panic Sets In moment. That can’t happen this year. It simply can’t. We need to avoid that at all costs. In 2009, Kathryn wasn’t able to complete IronMan Lake Placid—whether it was her work, or that things needed to get done around the house, or that she just wasn’t that into it, something else always got in the way that prevented her from training. And that hurt, come race day. I’ve said this before… for some reason, I still have to train much harder than her in order to be able to compete. Yes, I’ve gotten faster than her on the bike. But still, overall, the ROI (return on investment) for her training seems to be much better than mine. In 2008 I felt that even if I trained for hours and hours…

The Longest Year Ever

Thursday, January 7, 2010

This past year of triathlon was amazing. I improved my overall fitness, and my cycling tremendously and that had a significant impact on my overall results. IronMan Lake Placid? Better by 90 minutes. IronMan Muskoka 70.3? Better by about 20 minutes. And, while it was amazing, it was very difficult. There were times when i wanted to throw it all away—training every weekend with Kathryn, with my brother and his wife, with Greg, with whomever… I was ready to give it all up on at least one occasion, and I know that Kathryn was too. In fact, we did give it all up, at least once. I think I’ve figured out at least part of the reason why. 2009 saw Kathryn and I compete in IronMan Lake Placid on July 27 and IronMan 70.3 Muskoka on September 13. I won’t get into the results—those are somewhat…

Panic Sets In

Monday, March 30, 2009

Annual tradition. That’s all I can put it down to. Annual tradition. Spring arrives and we panic because we haven’t been training enough for the races we have planned. We have gone through this every year since 2007. Every spring we freak out and panic that we are not going to be ready. That we’ll fail. That we’ll hurt ourselves. That we won’t finish the race. And then, we train. And we look at what we did the year before, we realize that we made it happen last year, and we’ll make it happen again this year. Spurred on by our realization that we’re toast if we don’t get a move on, we kick into high gear, and get the hours in. And so it goes. I’m logging all of my training miles at Daily Mile—a service I found that connect me to other athletes from around the…

2009: Really Going For It

Friday, January 2, 2009

Here’s how 2008 went down. I got through IronMan Muskoka 70.3 but I was a little disappointed with my result. I wanted more from myself. I felt like I peaked too early in the season—probably at this year’s Tupper Lake TinMan. I trained hard last year—personal trainer, triathlon coach, weights, flexibility workouts, spent a lot of time on the bike, teaching classes, all of it. I felt more ready for one of our training races than I did for the one that counted, and that just doesn’t sit well with me. By the time the race that mattered came around, my training had already started to dwindle, weight slowly crept back on (partly because of my speaking schedule—delivering talks at conferences with awesome food, and still trying to work on client work back home, means that my workouts suffer and I put on the…

Now What?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This isn’t the post I thought I’d be writing, but I am. I am not feeling the way I should be feeling, but I am. Yes, I successfully completed IronMan Muskoka 70.3, and yes, it was a very challenging course, so in reality I should just be happy to have crossed the finish line—almost 40 people of the 1300 participants didn’t finish. I know that I improved significantly over my performance at IronMan Lake Placid last year, and I’m happy with that. Overall, I felt better prepared and in better shape. But the bottom line is that, for me, my performance on race day just wasn’t good enough. I trained my ass off for close to 6 months. Others that were competing with me (my wife and brother and sister-in-law in particular) all said that I would do way better than they would because they hadn’t trained. My…


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

“I want to cross the finish line of the IronMan world championship in Hawaii with Lisa Bentley.” Paraphrasing aside, those are the words of Carter, a young boy with Cystic Fibrosis who, despite his health struggles, keeps a very active lifestyle. It was at that precise moment that eleven time IronMan winner Lisa Bentley, who, like Carter, also has Cystic Fibrosis, moved me to tears as we all listened—riveted—focusing on her stories and unparalleled positive outlook on all aspects of racing and life. She goes on to tell us that Carter was her inspiration for racing IronMan Hawaii in 2007. Her theme that kept her moving forward was simply doing the best that she could to get across that finish line with Carter because that was his wish to the Make a Wish Foundation. His wish had been granted, and she was going to deliver despite the struggles every IronMan…

Graham Beasley Olympic Tri 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Graham Beasley Olympic Tri 2008

I’ve decided that I love racing. Training is great and all, but I am really getting addicted to racing. If I said I was simply racing against the clock, you’d be well within your rights to call me a liar. Maybe other people do, but with my team sports background, I find I need other people to chase or fend off. I am racing against the clock, but I’m using everyone else I see as motivation to shave even seconds off my time. On Sunday, July 13, we headed to Carleton Place to race in the Graham Beasley Triathlon (Olympic distance for us). The weather threatened all of the previous night and in the morning but it managed to hold off for most of the race—just a few sprinkles here and there which really helped in keeping me cool. We hadn’t raced this one before, but I knew…

The New Wonder Drug

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I’ve been reading a book by David Glover called Full Time and Sub-Nine: Fitting Iron Distance Training into Everday Life. I’m under no illusion that I’ll be racing IronMan races in sub-nine hours any time soon, and quite likely never. However, the back cover tells me that it “includes valuable information for triathletes training at all distances!” so I figured I’d buy it. Sadly, I’m not getting much out of the book (maybe I’ll write up a full review later), but I have found some memorable quotes. Ironically, this is my favourite quote so far, and it comes from another source:

Imagine that a new wonder drug haas been created. It will prevent illness and disease, including cancer. It will help you lose excess weight and keep it off. It will slow the aging process, making you look and feel younger than your years. It will give you energy and…

Tupper Lake Tinman 2008

Monday, July 7, 2008
Tupper Lake Tinman 2008

Very early on in our work with coach Dave Harju, he suggested that we do the half iron distance triathlon in Tupper Lake, NY. I thought he was nuts – we were training for the half IronMan Muskoka in September 2008, so there was no way we’d be ready for a half iron race known the Tinman in Tupper Lake, NY in June. As it turns out, he wasn’t exactly nuts. We did it, enjoyed some awesome time away from home (we rented a wonderful cottage in Tupper Lake and stayed there for a week of pre-race preparation and post-race solitude!), and feel really good about where we are. My wife hasn’t trained nearly as much as I have. And, as usual, I still only beat her by a little bit. h4. The Swim I’m fairly certain I pissed a few people off in the swim. I couldn’t swim straight…

Smiths Falls Classic Triathlon 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008
Smiths Falls Classic Triathlon 2008

I was practically begging my coach to let me race. Begging. When he said “it is a recovery week, so go for it. Go all out, don’t monitor your heart rate, just go for it” I was ecstatic. The Smiths Falls Classic is an event put on by Somersault (they organize/own most of the triathlons and running races around Ottawa and surrounding area). We had heard good things about it, but wanted to confirm for ourselves. The sprint distance was a bit shorter than what we’ve done before: * 500m swim * 26km bike * 5km run Kathryn and I quite literally had no idea what to expect. We hopped in the car early on Sunday morning, drove in the rain for an hour to the race site and arrived to find… nothing. We were told to go to the Comfort Inn hotel in town and expected to see lots…

New Rides for 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008
New Rides for 2008

We were headed down to Lake Placid to train for a weekend in May. Before we had even left, with the bikes loaded on the back of the car, I backed up into my aunt and uncle’s car. I smashed my wheel and completely bent my pedal crank arm. Idiot. That meant that I’d have no bike to ride for the weekend in Lake Placid. We hated the bikes we were riding—both of us were on bikes that we bought because they were on sale, not because they were the right bikes for us. We won’t make that mistake again. We had purchased a new bike for Kathryn a few weeks earlier – she’s riding a Trek Equinox 7.0 WSD So, the only logical decision would be for me to buy a new bike as well, right? Off we went to check out the selection in Lake Placid…

IronMan: It is all in the experience

Friday, June 13, 2008

As I mentioned not too long ago, my wife Kathryn and I have decided that we will do another IronMan triathlon. Despite some serious concerns about the health of my ankle after completing IronMan Lake Placid in 2007, we are committed to doing more. There was something about finishing an IronMan race—perhaps it was the combination of exhilaration, exhaustion and raw emotion that makes me want to do it again. Or maybe it is something simpler like getting better; seeing how much I can improve. Armed with the knowledge of what it takes to just finish the race, we are now embarking on a long 18 month journey to complete IronMan Lake Placid in 2009. We know what it takes to get by; now we want to see what it takes to do well. So, we’ve taken a number of steps to see exactly what we can…

Plan B

Monday, May 26, 2008

Last year, as part of our IronMan training, I set a goal. After the 2007 Ottawa half marathon, I wrote:

I’m hoping that the next half marathon we do, we can get our times down to 1hr 45 mins – I’m not exactly sure how fast I can go, but I definitely want to find out
And with that, I had the seed of a plan in place—to hit 1h 45min as a time in a half marathon. Based on the way everything has gone this year, that goal should have been achievable. I had a plan in place to run faster for each 5km split of the race and then really run hard for the last 2 or 3 km. And then the gun went off. Plans must change. While I had in mind the perfect race, my body didn’t agree. I’ve been sick…

All over again

Friday, May 23, 2008

It has been almost a year since my wife and I completed IronMan USA in Lake Placid, NY but the memories are still vivid and clear. Excruciating pain in my legs as they tightened themselves into iron bars – cramping with every pedal stroke, trying to make it up the most feeble of hills. Spooked by the bike accident I and several others witnessed (and subsequently provided aid to) while flying down the steepest descent on the race course. Not feeling my feet for about two-thirds of the bike. Why? Because I was an idiot and bought new cycling shoes and only managed to ride once with them for an hour as a trial before the race. Not really a bright move. At all. Forgetting our favourite race food (perogies) in the fridge at the cottage. Yes we had other food planned, but the perogies were our favourite, we’d ridden…

IronMan Bike

Sunday, October 7, 2007

I left my IronMan swim with a completely false sense of security. It had just finished the swim of my life, managed to get to the transition zone without slipping or pulling a muscle or tearing anything pushing off the sand. I found my bike clothes, got ready, and headed out feeling pretty good about the day so far. Going out of transition, I see everyone waiting for me at the side of the road. They cheer, I smile, I wave, and it is over. I’m past them in a flash, knowing I won’t see them for another 3 or more hours. All is well. I’m headed down the first hill out of town just about to head around the corner and go up another. And like almost all of my training rides, I hit the same damn pothole at the bottom of the hill and my drink flies…

IronMan Swim

Saturday, September 8, 2007

As we settled into Mirror Lake at 6:50am on race morning, I started to feel a little nervous, wondering if the horror stories I had heard would come true. With 2200+ competitors, I’ve heard that the swim start is like a washing machine with flying feet, fists and elbows everywhere. I expected the worst – thinking I’d have to put my goggles back on after having them kicked off my head by a stray heel. I was starting to wonder if we’d placed ourselves too close to start line. Would the people from behind swim around or over us? Would we need the assistance of the underwater scuba divers that keep a watchful eye for swimmers that started to go under, or were knocked out by an inadvertant strike to the head? Was I going to need to grab on to a kayak at some point to rest? I simply…

Getting Things Done

Saturday, August 11, 2007
Getting Things Done

I looked everywhere for it. I didn’t care what shape or colour it was, as long it was there and in the right position. After searching for it for hours through pain, mental anguish and exhaustion, I finally saw it there, at the side of the road near the guard rail, somewhere between Wilmington Notch and High Falls Gorge. My eyes widened as I saw the glint of the sun bounce off it. “There it is!” I thought. The perfect piece of glass—jagged and dangerous—just waiting for me. I had found my way out. All I needed to do was turn my handlebars to the right a few degrees. Simply run over it, and that would be the end of it. My tires would be shredded to bits, and I’d be stranded. The support crew would have to pick me up and drive me back into town, and I could…

All systems go!

Saturday, July 21, 2007
All systems go!

We’re set. We’ve checked in, dropped off our bikes, our biking gear, and our run gear. We’re with the kids and family that made the trip to support us. We’ve bugged my brother Gavin and his wife Michelle for the last time with questions for which we had no answers. We’re ready to eat our last big meal of pasta and chicken. We’re ready to get to bed early. We’re ready to hydrate. We’ll be up at 4:30 am to eat our breakfast and get our wetsuits and swim gear and “extra supplies” down to the lake by about 5:30. This has been a pretty amazing experience so far, and I only expect that it will continue to be amazing as we get through the race tomorrow. To Tina – you’ve helped get my body to where it is (though I’m not 100% sure exactly where, to be honest). You’ve…

IronMan week in Lake Placid

Friday, July 20, 2007
IronMan week in Lake Placid

Kathryn and I safely arrived in Lake Placid on Wednesday evening after the short (relatively speaking) 3.5 hour drive down here from Ottawa. We captured some video footage (we’ll post some of that later) of the trip – most of it looks the same as the rest of it to be honest, but the view of the Adirondack Mountains at certain stages of the drive is simply stunning. It has been raining pretty much non-stop since we arrived here. We spent Thursday doing one loop of the swim course – felt pretty good, actually. It is a 1.9km loop, and I think I finished in about 41 minutes. That seems to be what I average every time I swim it, which is fine – consistency will be key to success. Of course, Kathryn finished in somewhere around 35 minutes, which is about right for her. She is a much better…

Setting Expectations

Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Setting Expectations

On July 22, 2007, I’m doing IronMan Lake Placid: 3.8km swim, 180km bike, and 42.2km run. The course is beautiful and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m not setting really lofty expectations for a stellar time. That’s not really like me as I usually set pretty high goals for myself. In this case, given my experiences training, and that this is my first (only? last?) IronMan, I really need to set reasonable expectations. After having spent 6 of the last 9 weekends training in Lake Placid on the course for IronMan Lake Placid, you would think I have a pretty good idea of how long it will take me to complete the course. Al (who swims with me in the Nepean Masters Swim Club) asked me how I was feeling and what my goals were for the race. I answered that I was: bq. hoping for somewhere around the…

Lake Placid Training June 29 to July 2

Friday, June 29, 2007

We’ve spent this weekend in Lake Placid – Kathryn and I, with Gavin and Michelle, William, and Greg and Lynn. No hanging out with the kids, or just enjoying the long weekend, or spending Canada Day with our friends at their “used to be all day long but is now more like 6 hours since we all have kids” party. It has been a long weekend of difficult training in Lake Placid. It hasn’t gone as planned. Sure, we’ve been here since Friday night, and we’re leaving tomorrow on schedule. But, the original plan was: * Friday night: swim 4km * Saturday: swim 2km; bike 160km * Sunday: bike 90km; run 20km * Monday: swim 4km With all the best of intentions, we just haven’t been able to get all the training in. The weekend has been more like this: * Friday night: eat, sleep * Saturday: swim 2km; bike…

Getting the Garmin Forerunner

Monday, June 25, 2007

Launching this site means that I am getting a new toy: the Garmin Forerunner 305. I was talking with my friend Duncan about it when I saw him in Vancouver at the Web Directions North after party last February and he convinced me that I should get it (see his post Fitness 2.0 to see why). Add to that what I’ve seen from Greg Collett ‘s experiences with his, and I’m pretty much ready to get one. Hopefully one of my next posts will be a review of the unit and how it performs. After that, a post on how we integrated the GPS data into this site. We wanted to create and use our own solution rather than rely on 3rd party sites like Why? Because we wanted the map data directly as part of this blog, rather than having to go to a completely different site to…

Wet Suits in Ottawa

Saturday, June 9, 2007

My wife and I have been on the lookout for wetsuits here in Ottawa for some time. We started seriously looking about 2 months ago, and weren’t really able to come up with too many options. Pretty much everyone carries the same brand: Orca. I tried on three different Orcas and really wasn’t too happy with the fit of them – the ones that fit my legs didn’t fit my torso and the ones that fit my torso didn’t fit my legs. Being in the internet world, I looked to Google for help. The problem was that all the sites that turn up when searching for wetsuits in Ottawa are for diving/scuba shops. Searching for triathlon wetsuits in Ottawa gives you a great resource that helps you determine if you need a wetsuit, but doesn’t help you see which stores carry which brands. Basically, searching was useless, and I needed…

ING Ottawa 1/2 Marathon

Monday, May 28, 2007

In cold and blustery January 2007, my wife and I ran our first half marathon – 13.1 miles/21.1 km – on a very cold -20 degrees Celsius day. We had never run farther than about 16 or 17km before, it was ridiculously cold for the entire 2 hours and 8 minutes that it took us to run that race. We were happy with the fact that we had finished the race at all. Fast forward 4 months to May 27, 2007 and we were ready to run our second half marathon as part of Ottawa Race Weekend. We knew we felt better, but weren’t sure how much faster we’d be able to go – most of our other training runs that we’d done were not at a race pace, but at a long, slow, sustained pace. Our goal was to finish in less than 2 hours. We had a great…

Back on the horse

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I ended up taking last week off – the whole family ended up sick with that flu that was going around. It didn’t hit me as hard as others in the family, and I’m wondering if I was able to better fend off the bug given that I am a bit healthier and generally more fit. I recall lying there in bed, feeling like I was going to get it – my stomach starting to feel queasy and a bit rumbly. I remember thinking to myself: “fight it, it won’t get you; don’t let yourself throw up” and for some reason, that is what happened. Could be a combination of several factors, really – but I do think that will power had something to do with it. Straight up control of my physical function. So, with that bug going around, the regular Wednesday morning swim time arrived and while I…

When you're away

Sunday, December 3, 2006

What do you do when you know you’re going to be away? For the past 6 weeks, I’ve been at swimming religiously every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. Now I find myself in the position where I’m wondering if I’m going to lose the momentum. The whole family has been sick for the last three days (it hit me last) so I’m not keen on going Monday morning, and I’m going to miss Friday morning as we’ll be travelling to see family and friends for Christmas. The week after, I’m also likely to miss Friday. So – how do I avoid that momentum dip? I’m really happy with my progress, but I don’t want to fall behind and lose the progress I’ve made. The thing is – there will be no pool where I’m going to be and the weather won’t be nice enough to run, and biking is out…

On having bad days

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

For the past 4 weeks I’ve been swimming regularly on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6am to 7:15am. While difficult waking up that early, it has been excellent and I’ve noticed a big difference in my swimming ability – both technique and endurance. That might be because I’m still new to swimming – any swimming is better than none. I still swim in the slowest lane of 8, but I’m ok with that – it is more about my own improvement and competing against myself than competing against others at this stage of my training. Today, I literally fought myself. During that hour and 15 minutes, I wanted to quit at least 6 times. I just felt heavy. Like my arms and legs were moving but I was not going anywhere. I’m a bit worried, only because if I can’t make it through 75 minutes of swimming, how am I…


Saturday, November 18, 2006

The first post, getting the new blog up and running. Chronicling our journey to IronMan Lake Placid 2007. There is something exciting about fresh starts and trying new things. In this case, it is a new blog, and a new sport – triathlon. My wife and I have done three triathlons to date. The first two were “try-a-tri” distances (The Canadian, Sept 2005, Ottawa, Cornwall Transit, August 2006, Cornwall) and the third was a sprint distance (The Canadian, Sept 2006, Ottawa). We consider ourselves novices but are taking it pretty seriously – we’ve committed to completing IronMan Lake Placid on July 22, 2007. This new blog will chronicle that journey: our training and workouts and our thinking over the next 8 months working towards our goals.