Coaching highs and lows

Anyone who has ever coached an athlete knows the coach goes through the highs and lows with an athlete. It is very stressful to watch athletes compete and know you can do nothing to help them, except cheer if you happen to be on course. Sitting at home following them online can be euphoric or agonizing, that is if there is online tracking.

Around race day, I tend to do another analysis of their past several weeks and months and really analyze how the preparation went. Are they ready? What went well? What could we have done differently? What uncontrollable circumstances occurred that may affect the outcome? This doesn’t mean a coach isn’t confident, but rather they are willing to critically look at themselves and the athlete to determine what could be done better and to make a educated estimation of performance. Yesterday was a perfect example.

One of my athletes, who has been with me the longest, was racing Ironman Lake Tahoe. Her preparation heading into the race was spectacular. No injuries, consistent training and high motivation, had brought her to the start line in the best shape she has ever been in and well prepped for a PB. So, what happened?….Weather. Snow, frigid temperatures and all around misery for the athletes lead to over 1100 dnf’s or dns’s (about 40% attrition). Throughout the day, as I watched times get slower and slower, I knew the PB was not going to happen. When I saw she had finished though and stuck out a brutal day of racing, that made me very proud.

No, this race didn’t lead to the time we were hoping of. Yes, there were things that could have gone better on race day. However, there are still some major positives to take away. First, she made it to the start line. This is one of the greatest feats because it requires a commitment to a lifestyle and preparation. Anyone can sign up for a race, show up and compete. It take a lot more to meticulously prepare for this race and to alter your lifestyle to a healthy, active one. Second, nothing is more gratifying for a coach than to see their athlete fight for what they want. Starting that race, she knew the time was going to be slow, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t be a positive experience. I love a fighter. Third, set goals and be willing to throw them out the window on race day. The night before during our discussion, I was blown away at the relaxed, calm athlete on the other end of the line. When life throws you a major loop, make sure you’re willing to go with the flow. Preparation and routine are great, but you need to have fun and be flexible to.

At the end of the day racing is fun. Yes, it’s incredibly painful and nerve racking, but totally worth it. Whatever or wherever your next race is. Embrace the highs and lows that go along with it and have a blast. A happy athlete is a fast athlete!




Swim Video

Here is the video Jon got of me the other morning in the pool. There have been some great changes from last year, but there is lots left to do this year. Main focus now is better catch on the right hand and engaging my latts for the catch. Higher elbow and slightly deeper catch are also on my to do list.

Ironman Calgary 70.3 Lecture tomorrow night at Talisman

Ironman Lecture Series

Ironman Calgary 70.3 is fast approaching! Complete your race prep with Talisman Centre’s Ironman Lecture Series. Get expert advice and valuable training tips from our group of professional coaches and experienced triathletes to help you optimize your performance! FREE for Talisman Centre members and Ironman 70.3 Calgary competitors. $25 for non-members/non-competitors.

March 1st: Establishing Your Training Plan

Jack VanDyk will present practical tips, strategies and guidelines to help you prepare for the 2012 Calgary 70.3. Learn how to develop a sensible training schedule and identify the key periods of the season in which you will increase volume and intensity. Scared and questioning why you signed up? Do you have to train a ton to complete this event? Looking to qualify for World’s in Vegas? Come find out the practical training aspects and put your mind at ease!

March 22nd: Nutrition

Train, recovery, rest, train recovery rest – all a part of your daily schedule as you prepare for Ironman 70.3. Kelly Drager, Sport RD at Talisman Centre, will look at how to plan your nutrition needs as part of your cycle – train nutrition, recovery nutrition, and rest nutrition. If you haven’t put much thought into your nutritional needs before this session you won’t question its importance after. Your biggest support team is the food you eat.

April 18th: Race Plans and Triathlete Perspectives

Listen as Jack VanDyk, Jon Bird, Ed Rechnitzer and Grant Burwash, four of the coaches from the Talisman Centre Triathlon Club discuss their preparations leading into a race and their experiences with racing. The coaches will discuss their personal race strategies, warm-ups and race experiences with Ironman Calgary 70.3 as well as relevant info from other races. All coaches have several years of coaching and racing experience to share. Learn from their successes and mistakes during some key races.

Times, Location and How to Register

The Lectures will be held in the Riverview Room at Talisman Centre from 6:00pm – 9:00pm.

FREE for Talisman Centre members and Ironman 70.3 Calgary competitors. $25 for non-members/non-competitors.

Call 403.233.8393 or visit our Customer Service desk.

Talisman Centre Aquathon results


  Swim Time Run Time Total Time
10 & Under Boys 50m 200m
Thomas Armstrong :45 :37 1:22
Luke Armstrong :46 :37 1:23
Jayden Brasok :45 :39 1:24
Rylan Hillaby 1:30 :40 2:00
10 & Under Girls 50m 200m
Kristanna Neilson :46 :39 1:25
11&12 Boys 150m 800m  
Tazman Abramowicz 3:12 3:35 6:47
11&12 Girls 150m 800m
Jamie Hellard 2:17 3:18 5:35
Nikita Srivalsan 3:05 3:55 7:00
13 – 15 Boys 350m 1600m  
Stefan Daniel 4:45 6:02 10:47
Jake Armstrong 5:01 5:57 10:58
Cooper Bentley 4:45 6:38 11:23
13-15 Girls 350m 1600m  
Laurin Thorne 4:51 6:20 11:11
Justine Santama 6:05 7:31 13:05
16-18 Boys 440m 2000m  
Charlie Olmsted 6:33 7:30 14:03
Zachary Kendall 5:53 8:32 14:25
William Kemp 7:21 7:31 14:52
16 -18 Girls 440m 2000m  
Maya Soukup 5:56 9:32 15:28
Adult Men 440m 2000m  
Kyle Marcotte 5:26 6:40 12:06
James Curran 6:58 6:24 13:22
Sean Vording 6:52 6:46 13:38
Jason Dyck 7:52 7:24 15:16
David Stringer 9:09 7:29 16:38
Jeff Rodgers 12:06 13:22 25:28
Adult Women 440m 2000m  
Kelly Marcotte 5:30 7:54 13:24
Roxanne Skoreyko 6:45 8:24 15:09
Holly Higgins 6:53 8:51 15:44
Tamara Loiselle 7:43 9:49 17:32
Rabea Graepel 8:57 9:55 18:52
Jackie Hellard 10:12 9:02 19:14
Kate Charbonneau 9:32 10:30 20:02
Heather Myers 7:48 14:48 22:36

Thanks to everyone for showing up. Jon and I hope you all had a great time and will join us for our next event on April 8. It’s a great family affair for athletes of all ages and abilities.



Talisman Centre Aquathlon

Check out this great event Jon Bird and I are hosting at the Talisman Centre. All ages welcome. Details below. This is a great way to break up the monotony of winter training. Volunteers are also needed if this is more up your alley.

Youth or adults, new participants or seasoned triathletes – this is a great opportunity to participate in a fun and exciting swim and run event!

February 26, 2012

What is an Aquathlon?

The Aquathlon Series consists of a swim component and run component. Participants will compete in distances that will vary depending on age with the maximum distance being a 400m swim and a 2000m run. Both the swim and run will be separate and started in heats of 20 participants every 15 minutes.




 10 and under  50m  200m (1 lap of track)
 11 – 12  150m  800m (4 laps of track)
 13 – 15  300m  1600m (8 laps of track)
 16 – 60  400m  2000m (10 laps of track

How do I Register?

Registration Cost: $15 for Members  /  $20 for Non-Members

Visit our Customer Service Desk or call 403.233.8393 to register. If you are a Talisman Centre Member, you can alsoregister online.

Event Check-in

  • Please arrive on deck by 8:15am
  • Check-in and body marking will be located on the pool deck by the electronic scoreboard
  • After checking-in, participants can begin warming up in the pool and on the track starting at 8:30am

What Should I Bring?

  • Swimsuit
  • Swim cap
  • Goggles
  • Towel
  • Change of clothes for the run (participants will not be allowed to run in their wet swimsuit and are asked to change for the run portion to reduce water and poor traction on the track)

Event Day Schedule

 8:15am – 8:45am  Participant check-in
 8:30am – 9:00am  Pool and track open for participant warm-ups
 9:00am  Heat 1 Swim Start

For more information on Talisman Centre’s Aquathlon Series, please contact:

Jon Bird 
Endurance Training Systems Team Leader

Video from Friday

Last Friday morning, I was on City TV’s breakfast television with some other coaches from the Talisman Tri Club. Jon and I did most of the segments. This interview taught me a lot. First, I need to smile more. Granted, I was on the verge of getting quite sick and spent the next 3 days in bed, but still, I look angry at the world. Second, Jon has the most excessive/impressive eyebrow movement known to man. Third, anything quirky= interesting to reporters. Four, don’t slip when trying to dive into the pool (note Holly’s dive if you got it on TV)


BTV Fitness Friday- Grant Burwash, Jon Bird Talisman Centre Triathlon Club


Back to big Saturdays

One of the many benefits of coaching at Talisman Center is the ability to train with wonderful athletes as you coach them through cycling sessions. Starting yesterday, my 3 hour Saturday rides resumed for another year. These rides have become a key factor in many athlete preparation, including my own for the summer races. Typically, I do a 90-120min long run before the spin, but yesterday I was relegated to a 90min water run.

I entered the ride with lots of energy and excitement at the new faces as well as the old friends I have been coaching and training with for years. Some of the new athletes thought the class was 2 hours, which made my day to see their eyes get big when I told them the actual duration of the class. It’s kind of sadistic, but seeing this look of horror on others and then running them through a great workout, brings me a lot of pleasure. In my opinion, the class went great. This was the longest ride in 3 weeks with my achilles and it held up beautifully. A little athletic tape for some support, keep the cadence and watts stable and minimal standing and 3 hours passed with no pain…YES!

The dynamics of a 3 hour ride indoors are fascinating and over the years I studied them with great interest. When the class starts at 9am, the coach has to pump a lot of energy into the group to get people awake. Then, conversations need to be generated during warm up to keep people spinning and keep their energy exertion in check. This also helps the initial 30-45mins pass by in a blink of an eye. Once I’ve pumped energy in for about 45mins, the athletes start giving it back 10 fold. As they start to sweat, work hard and enjoy the experience of the music, friends and exercise, this is now my time to recharge. I take in the energy they are giving and keep the class at a stable hum. Once you pass that 2 hour, barrier, the athletes start to fade. Fatigue, hunger, boredom and saddles sores set in, which challenge peoples desire to continues. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are bonking, but I need to feed energy back to them. This means good music, encouragement as well as keeping my energy and pep high. This is the only way that most athletes will push themselves for the full 3 hours. When all the work is done and the minutes have sweated themselves away, everyone is in a state of fatigue, hunger, varying levels of pain, but has a sense of accomplishment. “Today, I did something that will make me better tomorrow”.

Welcome back Saturdays!


Welcome Back

Welcome back to Happy new year to everyone.

I am back to blogging now after a hiatus to focus on other areas of my life. After my season last year, I had a desire to pull away from blogging for a while as I dealt with a frustrating end to the season and an achilles injury. My community of friends and supporters are fabulous, but occasionally I have a tendency to live through the highs and lows of life with only those that come into contact with me on a daily basis. For this, I apologize to those of you that live for blogs. Don’t worry though, I’m back and I’ll be keeping you updated on my life.

This week I have started back coaching the Talisman Centre Triathlon Club. It’s always great to see returning friends and to meet new athletes ripe with potential.

2012 has begun and I have a feeling it’s going to be a year to remember.


Season is officially over

That’s a wrap for the 2011 season. It has been a year of highs and lows, but now the race season has come to a close. After racing in Georgia, I found my body and mind very tired. With little juice to hurt through 2 more half ironmans, I decided to call my race season quits. It is sometimes tough as an athlete to know when to pull the plug on a season, but I had many telling signs. First off, I wasn’t excited to race anymore. I was not motivated to hurt through the workouts, let alone suffer the way I needed to in order to have a good result at the races. My main motivation during the days was to sleep, eat and not think about triathlon. My body had some issues, like bruised hip and a vertebrae out of place, that needed to get fixed. One of my main motivations though, was the desire to take time off quickly, so I could start full training again in mid October. This would allow me more time to work over the winter and race earlier.

After looking at these signs and talking it over with my coach Jack and my family, my race season ended. In one of my next posts, I’ll analyze my year, but today is not that day. I’m now getting back into the swing of things at Talisman Centre and slowly finding a rhythm with coaching again. The past couple weeks of minimal training and a lot of good food has been food for my mind and soul. I now am looking outside and feel an urge to run, bike and swim. Let’s let the off season training begin.