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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Hell Week - 1000 km in 7 Days

Last July, my buddy Rick texted me and asked: "Hey you want to do Hell Week?" Ah...what is 'Hell Week'? Rick explains: "I have always wanted to ride 1000 km in 7 days, starting tomorrow. You In?" Sure. So both of us found a way to get the 1000 km. Rick felt it would be a good final test for Paris-Brest-Paris, he was right. Regrettably, last November Rick passed suddenly from a massive heart attack. This really rocked me- Rick was a warrior, tough as nails and the guy I shared the most miles with (over 5000 km in the previous 18 months). So as the anniversary to Hell Week was coming up, I knew that I was going to ride the 1000 km again.

Last week I completed the challenge again. Here are some quick highlights and a few learnings that
may help you as you tackle your goals.

At the onset I knew I had to be really consistent and break this up into manageable chunks. With that and the extreme heat wave we had, I decided that my Monday to Friday riding would all start at 4:00 am. Of course, the night before everything was ready to go, up at 3:40 am, getting into my kit, use the bathroom, slam back a room temperature Cold Brew and out the door. I was riding every morning before 4:05am. This allowed for a reasonably paced ride to be complete right at 9 am and then I could transition to Infinit.

All but Friday, I followed a route I travel all the time. A quiet route, where I knew I would see little traffic, the first day from 4am through to 4:40 am, I didn't see a single car. It was so quiet, peaceful and quite beautiful. Of course there was the added bonus of the cooler temps. Always magical to be riding from dark to dawn, recommend you try it at least once this summer season.

In total I was on the bike for 32 hrs 11 minutes. I consumed 38 bottles of my Infinit Custom blend, 7 Cold Brews (all 10 minutes before riding) and 7 Rescues immediately after my rides. I knew my nutrition and hydration would be so important to complete this challenge, and frankly I wanted to enjoy the experience.

Many good friends this week!
Of course this is a lot of seat time and the chaffing issue popped up on day one. I couldn't believe it as I have had several 200 km rides, one 265 and no previous issues. This obviously worried me, only 145km into 1000 km week. So on Monday night, reflecting on some lessons from PBP, I applied some Penaten (yes I know it is for babies). I hoped it would be okay in the morning. Well - sort of. The first 30 minutes took a lot of repositioning, as a friend Nick says: it goes numb after an hour (this is true).

Day 1 - Rode all solo, loop down to Kingsville, over to Leamington and then west home. Really an uneventful ride with the exception of the worry of chaffing. I checked my weight when home and I had lost 1.2 pounds more than I wanted to. I would have to up my fluid intake a bit.

Day 2 - Out to Kingsville along Lake Erie shore, I felt strong but felt like I should tone my pace down a bit, kept closer to 31.5 km/hr, thought yesterday's average was too high, thinking about the long haul. Nick Dwyer met me out near Colchester - it was great to ride together, chatting for 45 km. My chaffing was worse and quite concerning, I applied the Penaten again and crossed my fingers. I put a call into Team Infinit Athlete: Ed Veal - we discussed how to combat my undercarriage issues (his term). Turned out to be a great call. He asked how I was using Chamois Butt'r - I had simply been applying to my chammy/bib shorts the night before. He liked that, but recommended I apply it liberally directly on the skin before putting the shorts on. That would be the plan going forward.

Day 3 - As I was completely focused on my sore spots, I wasted no time planning a route for today, I rode exactly the same route. I had a WSW wind so I basically had a slight push on the way out, which was a bit concerning as my pace was 31.8 km/hr on the way out and I knew I had the breeze to contend with on the way back. At the Ruthven Circle K, I made out the additional bottles and took on some additional water to wash down my chocolate chip cookies. Surprisingly, I felt quite good on the way back to Colchester where I met up with Nick again. We rode comfortably back to Lasalle. It was great having the company a second day in a row.

Later in the evening, I reached out to a friend Geoff Owen about my under carriage issues. He recommended continuing with the advice from Nick and Ed, but said to make sure there was no infection - Polysporin is magic. I added that to the mix of my bottom care.

Day 4 - Last year it would be normal for me to ride with a dear friend Cynthia Relf 2-3 times a week. 
To this point this year, we had only passed one another out in county. Cynthia let me know she would love to join me for 70 km or so, starting around 6:30 am. Perfect! I did a 75 km loop before dropping by to pick her up. Mentally, the ride is much different, knowing I had a riding partner for the second half. We had a great ride. It was good to be out there together again.

Day 5 - The night before, I reached out to Team Infinit Athlete: Matt Gervais and asked what he was up to in the morning. He said him and Russ Van Every were riding 80 km starting at 6 am. I was a little worried about hanging around with these guys, but Matt assured me they were on a recovery week and pace wouldn't be an issue. I made my way out past Essex and then up to Tecumseh to meet them- a great ride getting to our meet up. The 80 km with these guys was amazing - I sat in behind them for the most part as we all chatted. When complete, I made my way over to Infinit instead of home as we had to set up for the Infinit Cold Brew Drive Thru. I was really happy to get this ride in- knowing I had 725 km in before the weekend was perfect. For the weekend rides, I would have more company, space and distraction.

Day 6 - Even though Nick wasn't able to ride Saturday with work commitments, he reached out to the group to see who might be willing to put in 150 km with me (so thoughtful). The plan was to meet at the school at 7 am, so I went out at 6 to grab 30 km before I met the group. I experienced my only rain for the week for the first 30 minutes- felt good actually. I got to the parking lot and there were 7 riders: Christian, Nikki, Deb, Jeff, Chris, Tom and Pat (a long time customer, who I had never met) - Awesome.

We rode a good pace to Kingsville - likely averaged 35+ km with a push from the wind. We knew after our Red Lantern coffee stop we would have to fight the wind for the rest of the day. We had a gusty 30 km/h NW wind, the group worked well together to finish at that section at 32.4 km/hr - we all worked hard and enjoyed a beverage in the parking lot - Thanks Jeff!

Day 7 - The week was filled with support- my wife Bren putting up with my crap, getting up at 3:40 am on the weekdays and falling asleep by 9:30 pm. The riders that came out and folks that gave me tips along the way. One of the coolest most touching was James Draper, a former work colleague reaching out on Friday - he saw what I was doing and he convinced a couple of his riding buddies to ride with me on Sunday at 4 am for 140 km - crazy thoughtful. I called him and told him I really appreciate the support, but I am sleeping in. I only need 100 km - that was fine for James, Jeff and Bart as well. I asked Cynthia to join as well - so we had a easy 100 km that included a stop to enjoy Mary's (James' wife) Coconut Almond Cycling Bars and an ice cream at the Dairy Freez.

So that's it- 1023 km. It was an incredible week. I am truly grateful for all who helped me achieve this goal. I am most grateful every moment I had with Rick, I thought I was tough, but he pulled more out of me and continues to do so.

Miss you buddy.

- Darcy Haggith, President, Infinit Nutrition Canada

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Paris-Brest-Paris - Sharing the Experience

PBP – Experience

Wow - where to begin?  I guess the beginning...

When did my desire to complete Paris-Brest-Paris first originate?  I would say it was when I entered Carey 'Chappy' Chappelle’s  pain cave last year after completing the 2018 Creemore Classic.  I had just completed a 400 km ride in 24 hours with some other crazy road warriors: Matt McFarlane, Rick Meloche, Tim O’Callahan, Brenda Wiechers, Paul Slavchenko, and Chappy.   After a tight 3 hours of sleep in Chappy's basement, I hit the shower. As I exited the bathroom, I behled what I came to call  the 'pain cave': a room with Carey’s Computrainer set-up, and around it a makeshift shrine, of sorts, to PBP.  What PBPwas, I didn't really know, but in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 Chappy had 
participated – pictures, race numbers, jerseys... all were hung there as mementos of each time he'd gone.  I was intrigued, and tucked it away wondering if I could be ready to participate in the coming year; could I take part in this extraordinary event that happens every 4 years?

I was on the fence; I didn’t know if I could pull it off.  I let it sit and marinate for a while.  But it seems that PBP was looking for me. I wasn’t really thinking much about it until I completed a nutritional consult for Gordon from Nova Scotia. He was looking for a boost in his nutrition for an event he was preparing to do: Paris-Brest-Paris.  Gordon put the event to the front of my mind, again  – going 1200 km in less then 90 hrs sounded epic, and it was something I felt would stretch my limits.  Having completed the Creemore Classic (an official 400 km event) allowed me to sign up early and align start times with some friends that had committed to the 2019 event.  My friends, Tim, Brenda, Carey, Matt, and Dick Felton had all received start times similar to my 18:15.  And then, I was pre-registered! (From January 2019 through to July, I was required to complete the 4 qualifying rides to turn this “pre-registration” into an official registration. If you're interested, the 4 qualifying rides and links to previous blog entries that capture the full journey to PBP. can be found below.)

200 km Brevet - Rondeau Rando

400 km Brevet - Greek Experience

300 km Brevet - Tour of Detroit

600 km Brevet - Rondeau Rando

2019 Paris-Brest-Paris - Le Grand Event!

(Pardon my French)

I left for France on Wednesday, Aug 14th, and arrived early morning the next day at Charles de Gualle airport.  You know, when traveling with your bike, it's always great  to set eyes on and in the bike box when you reach your final destination.   About 12 hours prior, I  had packed up this box (pictured) with all I felt I would need to successfully complete the biggest ride of my life.

While retrieving my bike box from the oversize luggage area, I ran into another Ontario rider, Mark Nickel. After some casual dialogue, we learned that we were traveling to the same area near the starting line in Rambouillet. Knowing I had a rental car reserved at the airport, I asked Mark if he wanted to see if we could fit the two bike boxes and luggage in (you never know with European-sized cars).  The Fiat 500L turned out to be perfect for the two of us; we had good conversation and he helped me to navigate around Paris and  the surrounding smaller villages.  Along the way, Mark mentioned an Ontario rider that he would be staying with - Larry Optis, and he said that he was quite a competitive rider.  He told me how Larry had done Race Across America (RAAM), and that he had completed a recent double century (320 km) at an average pace of over 38 km/hr – crazy!  I knew I would look him up later as I'm really interested in the long endurance races, and I always want to learn more.  After dropping Mark off, I was onward to Les Essarts-le-Roi where Dick Felton had arranged a full year in advance for us all to share a large townhouse. I was happy to be part of it, and what a feeling when I got there and was greeted by the gang of friendly faces along with one new one - John Cumming from Ilderton.  Matt and his wife Erin would arrive the next day, and then Hannah and Mathias (our RV crew) we to arrive on Saturday morning.  The place was perfect: 4 bathrooms, plenty of bedrooms, and courtyard where we traded stories, beer and wine in the days before and after the event - what an awesome place.

When Matt and Erin arrived on Friday, we learned his bike hadn’t.  This is everyone's nightmare when they travel with a bike. After countless hours on the phone with Norwegian Airlines, we learned it was unlikely the bike would arrive – we had no control of the situation.  What we did have control of was reaching out to the Randonneur Community on social media.  Dick Felton is a long time participant, so he posted about Matt’s situation and asked if folks could help in any way.  Incredibly, right away, a few bikes were offered up from this generous community. What turned out to be the best solution was offered up from someone who remembered that in the 2015 event, a Russian team of 4 all arrived without bikes, so a local bike shop called 'Decathalon' provided them all with new bikes for the 4 day event. All they had to do was replace the tires and brakes afterwards. How cool is that?!  Matt chose to pursue this option and it worked – he could get a new bike that was fitted to him without a huge financial burden – Decathalon came through  – they hooked him up on a great bike as a demo or trial. "Ride it for a week and let us know”.   He bought all his accessories that
he would need for the ride from them, as these were also in the bike box.  He was all set to go.

By the end of the day Friday, we all had our bikes set and gear/supplies packed and ready to go.  Registration and bike inspection was in Rambouillet around noon on Saturday for most of us.  Tim, Brenda and I decided to take the train on the rainy day to avoid messing the bike up too much and, most importantly,to avoid having wet shoes for the start the following day.  As is the case with most bigger events, you get to understand the enormity of it during the check-in process.  I knew this was the oldest cycling event (running since 1891 as a race and then since 1947 as an event), and that it  occurs every 4 years.  Our spirits were not dampened at all by the rain as we knew we had a good forecast coming.  The lines were long - first the bike inspection and then
onto race kit pick-up.  In between those lines, our timing was perfect to get in on the Canadian Rando picture.  We headed back to our home base for the final preparations, beer and more story telling.

Waking up on I will call it Event Day on Sunday was odd. Normally for Ironmans, marathons and cycling races, you get up at 5ish, get some simple carbs in you, some coffee, and gather yourself and gear to head to the race start.  This day was different as our start was at 18:15.  Oh  yeah - I almost forgot to tell you that we received possession of our support vehicle.  Tim had arranged for an amazing RV that would allow us to sleep comfortably when required along the 90 hr journey.   We got familiar with the RV and packed the essentials. We were now set. A couple of hours later, we took the train to the race start.  Once we arrived – we were awestruck by just what an enormous and incredible spectacle this was. 
We were a about 90 minutes early, so we just sat in the shade and took it all in until our 18:15 group was brought to the line.  The next step was to get the Rambouillet 'Depart stamp' on our pseudo-passports - the first stamp of 17 that would document the 1219 km journey to the town of Brest and back to Paris.  After months of training (10 000 km since January), planning and dreaming/visualizing, we were finally on our bikes and ready to do this thing.  Brenda, Tim and I were the only ones among our friends that were leaving with the 18:15 wave.  We were off!

I'm not sure how to capture the next 90 hours or so.  When I jotted this all down, I had had only 7.5 hours of sleep from Sunday morning until Thursday night at 10ish, so forgive me if the details... well, they are a little foggy.

I have learned through many an Ironman race that you never look at the whole race as one big lump;  you really have to break it up into manageable chunks. It would be completely demoralizing to say: “Okay, I only have 85 hours to go!”  So chunk it up I did: first step was to get to the feed station in Mortange at 118 km in.  We were  now firmly in the darkness of night. It was good to get another 3 bottles of my Custom Rando Blend mixed up. I also grabbed some cheese on a banquette, which became a staple during the event.  I was pleased to see Chappy and Matt here - it turned out that it was actually the last time I would see Matt (the fellow on the borrowed bike) until after the race – he road alone and well, never to be caught, proud of the way he rode the first time on the new bike.   From there, we were off for another 100 km to our first control at Vallaines-La-Juhel.  The ride was on dark, smooth country roads – perfect condition,  and they either went up or down, never flat!  What an amazing sight to see the red taillights of hundreds of bikes stretched miles up the road in the dark night.  For the most part Chappy, Brenda, Tim and I stayed together until we got to the 217 km mark at just after 05:00. (5 a.m.)  Again, we fuelled up and we were on to the next control in the beautiful Fougeres for 10:30 and then Tinteniac at 14:30.  At each stop we took a breather, fuelled up and got ready for the next step of the journey. I arrived at Loudeac at 19:45, and was happy with this. I had so far ridden a total of 445 km in 25.5 hours with no sleep.  I finally got into the RV and had my first sip of sleep, which was a total of 1.5 hrs! We got up at 12:30 a.m. to start riding again for 1 a.m.

From Loudeac, we stayed together through to the secret control at St Nicholas and then Carhaix-Plouguer at the 521 km mark at around 5 a.m. Tuesday morning.  After getting our pseudo-passport stamped, I walked into a restaurant, where to my shock, I could see folks sleeping everywhere - anywhere there was open floor space, right there on the terrazzo concrete floor.  I was gobsmacked!  It looked like a scene from the old TV show, Mash.  Brenda Tim and I had some hot soup, bread and a coffee –  the perfect tonic to prepare us for the next leg of the journey; it would giveus the needed jolt to make the 90 km push to Brest  - the halfway point.  But you know what they say about the best laid plans...  all of a sudden my desire to sleep was greater than anything else, and that concrete floor that I thought was a crazy place to sleep moments ago, now seemed like a perfect resting point.  I told Brenda and Tim that I would catch with them up on the road to Brest.  So I simply found a clear patch of concrete floor, set my timer to go off in 40 minutes (why 40 I have no idea – it seemed right).  I woke up with a pain in my neck, a cramp in my foot, but surprisingly ready to go.  That was until I got outside.  My body temperature had dropped during the nap and the outside temperature was around 4°C with a dense fog – the dampness in the air was killer.  You know those camping mornings in Spring when it's too cold to leave your sleeping bag in the morning?  Yeah.  When I looked at the forecasts ahead of my travel, they forecasted 11°C as the lows in Paris and Brest.  Okay - doable. But experiencing lows of 1-4°C each morning with the
dampness was just not a good time.  It tested my mettle, I'll tell you that.  Instantly when I went outside I was chilled to the bone, shivering violently, shaking and teeth chattering.  I had long, light tights over my kit, and long sleeves with a Gore-Tex jacket, but no gloves nor head covering other than the cycling cap (I was glad that I at least had that).  I knew that I had to get on the bike and pedal hard to build some heat.  10-15 minutes later, I had built the heat back up and I was comfortable again. I did pass Chappy, Brenda and Tim, and I let them know I was going to ride my pace, and that I would see them in Brest.  I was a bit conflicted riding out on my own, but what I came to know of this journey is it is hard to ride with others.  Riding styles, the peaks and valleys that we each go through - they never really align. You kinda have to fight this beast alone.

I hit the halfway point in Brest just before 11 a.m. on Tuesday morning.  As I came in over the bridge, I just had to stop for pictures.  Getting the control card signed – this is always a moment of
pride: you get the card stamped, and you feel accomplished.  As always – when I arrived at the RV, Mathias and Hannah had food for me and took care of preparing my 3 bottles of fuel: typically 2 Customs and a Cold Brew.  These kids were amazing! I'm not sure they knew what they had signed up for, but they were champs. They took it very seriously and made every effort to make us successful. I'm ever grateful!

Whew! The climb out of Brest was long but manageable. I quite enjoyed the climbing, but it began to dawn on me that I hadn't taken any lights with me and that I would not see the RV until Loudeac.  What was I thinking?! I would have to really hustle to make it there in the light.  There is this very  long stretch back to Carhaix-Plouguer – a single road with no real distractions and lots of climbing: on this day, it just seemed to go on forever. With the need for sleep pulling at me, I decided to take my first road-side snooze. Folks, it is surprising how absolutely wonderful a patch of grass can feel. I simply put my bike down, took stuff out of pockets, and covered by face to avoid a sunburn. I think I was out for 40 minutes.  Incredible also is how these micro-sleeps can recharge you: you aren’t sleepy anymore and your pace instantly increases – amazing!  My riding since Tintineac was largely alone; I think I had more time when I wasn’t riding as compared to the riders near me. I was always riding with more pace - something to consider for the future. Maybe I can limit my stops/time at stops but maintain my pace.  The rest of the way to the second secret control at St Nicolas was enjoyable but nothing to report on.  These secret controls are to keep people honest. They are, by nature, not announced, so it forces folks to stay on course.

I hit Loudeac right at 9 pm, and luckily, it was still light (you get DQd if you ride without lights at night). At this point I had completed 793 km. I decided to put my head down, but not for too long as I wanted to be riding by 3:30 a.m.   In post-analysis, this is where I could have been more efficient, as I finished riding at 9, but I didn't get to sleep until 11:30 because I was trying to track down the whereabouts of the RV.  Tim, Brenda and Carey arrived later and we all caught up on some sleep.  As a group we were up and on the bikes by 3:30 a.m. and off to Tinteniac. We had to cover almost 100
km to the control point, and we made good time, getting there by 7:30 in the morning.  From here it was on to one of my favourite places along the route: Fougeres – beautiful churches, buildings and the people were great.  Mathias and Hannah were on route out of Fougeres. They hung around long enough to see Chappy roll in and bit later, Tim and Brenda.  Everyone was feeling the heat and the effects of the now 923 km.  At this point, there was some question as to whether Tim could go on. He was pretty badly dehydrated. As a group, we were not sure where the RV would end up.  I decided to set my sights on getting to Mortange – two controls and 185 km away.  It was close to 3 pm when I left with lots of work to do.  I didn’t want to have to complete more than the last two controls (122 km) on the final day (Thursday). We had to be finished up by 12:15 to make it official.  I decided to pack as if I
was going to the end with no RV support, so I took everything I would need: clothes, nutrition, lights and a power source, and left for Vallaines-La-Juhel (another favourite control).  An hour or so in, I was already getting sleepy, so I decided to take another nap along the route. At this stop, there were cots set up for riders, but the grass under the trees seemed perfect to me.  30 minutes here was exactly what I needed. Going forward, I had two instances when I rode with another rider – pushing 35 km/hr pace: a Columbian and later an Austrian. In both cases, we were impressed with one another and grateful to have the distraction, as well as someone to push the pace with.  Sometimes it just feels better going fast - there's less pressure on your butt, which (believe me) at 1000 km is feeling the effects.

At 18:35 on Wednesday night, I hit the control at Villaines-La-Juhel (1012 km).  I was super excited to be here, and there is such a great vibe at this control.  I grabbed a cheese baguette and a large bag of potato chips that I ended up sharing at a picnic table with a few Brits and Aussies.  I checked to see where Matt was - I was hoping I would see him before the end of the ride. Unfortunately he was already at the next check point, so I was going to have to wait until the end to see him.  Matt had an incredible ride, hopping on a new bike for the first time and riding 1200 km basically alone.  Another time, maybe in 2023, I will ride it the way Matt did: completely self-supported. Having the RV was a great way to complete my first PBP, but with the experience behind me, next time, I will look to manage my breaks more effectively and see if I can cover the distance in less than 70 hrs.

Now, fully nourished I was set to ride another 85 km before I would put my head down again, this time in the dormitories they had set up.

My ride to Mortagne was uneventful, it was a beautiful evening and I had a very manageable distance to cover off.  My only goal was was to hit the control, and have a couple of hours sleep so that I had 125 km to finish. Easy!  I arrived just after midnight. After getting my card signed, I grabbed a meal - a ton of pasta salad and cheese baguette. It's really incredible how great food can taste at times like this.  I went out to the get my bed at the make shift dormitories set up, just paying my 5 euros and positioning the clock hands to instruct them when to wake me. Just then,  I got a call from Hannah and Mathias. It turns out they are in town with the RV (unexpected). Tim pulled himself off the
course, and they had him and were going to be there shortly.  So I gave up my bed and made my way to meet the RV, hopped in, slept in my kit, and was up at 3 am to finish this thing.  Obviously I was gutted when I learned that Tim was unable to finish. It was the right call for him as he was fading in and out from severe dehydration- he made the wise decision to call it.  I hope to be there in 2023 to see Tim finish this thing!

Honestly, it gets to be a bit of a blur at this point, but as far as I remember, I got up, made sure I had my nutrition, lights, cycling gloves (borrowed) and decided to head out.  As I was leaving, I saw Chappy and Brenda, thrilled that they were still pushing on.  The first chunk for what remained was about 77 km. I think I left at 3:30 am.  Dark, damp and cold sums it up.  I chunked it up; I knew the first part of this segment was all uphill, and that it might have been the most sustained climbing we had. I actually managed this well.  Well, what goes up must come down... it was time to 'enjoy' the downhill (really a stretch to say I enjoyed this, careening down a hill at 60 km/hr in the dark and cold; it's more apt to say that I endured it).  I actually narrowly avoided a terrible mishap when my light/battery pack came loose.  Rather than getting caught in my spokes and sending my into a devastating crash, it instead got hit by a spoke and snapped off - flying harmlessly off the bike into the dark night.

Later in the ride the sun was beginning to rise - an epic morning! I was only 20 km from the next
control with nice, flat, smooth roads and the rising sun!  I arrived at Dreux at 7:15 a.m.

At this control, I was in no hurry (remember, it's not a race), so I happily waited in line for some food and coffee.  I wanted the air to warm up a bit before I hit the road again.  I had until 12:15 pm to finish with just over 40 km to go.  I got out on the road likely at 8:30 a.m, making my way through the city and back out on the county roads.  Unbelievably (well, maybe not), I was extremely drowsy again.  I could barely keep my eyes open. It was the first time in 85 hours I had felt it this strongly.  I did not want to stop and nap now - I was too close to the finish.  I stopped at the side of the road.  Another rider experiencing the same problem pulled up.  He decided to nap, but I instead decided to take my outer layer off and ride in shorts and long sleeves.  My logic was that I would have to pedal hard to stay warm, that would keep me awake.  Well friends, that (plus some singing at the top of my lungs) did the trick.

The last 10 km seemed like we were riding in a great big park with beautiful rolling hills. It was hitting me - I was almost done.  I was of course glad to be done, but a little sad at the same time. Done... arriving at the finish line in Rambouillet was so anti-climatic.  I was done.  It was over.

I'm not sure how you are supposed to feel after completing 1200 km in 87 hours and 41 minutes,  but I felt pretty darn good.  I ditched the bike, got my last control card signed, and grabbed my medal.  Getting the card at every control was so satisfying, but especially so for this last one.  My mind was then on to breakfast, which I throughly enjoyed despite feeling waves of emotions. I cried into my delicious eggs. I'm not really sure why this happens, but I always get like that at the end of Ironman competitions as well.

Shortly after I finished, Brenda and Chappy rolled in.  Mathias, Hannah, Tim, Brenda, Chappy and I all had a celebratory beer and somehow all crammed into the RV, bikes and all to head back to our townhouse.  Once there, I literally peeled off the cycling kit I had been wearing for the last 48 hrs.  Of course I had some sore spots on my 'undercarriage' (as Ed Veal puts it) but I faired pretty well!  Showers were definitely in order and then we all went downstairs and began swapping stories.  We managed to stay awake for the planned Randonneur Ontario dinner. I was good to be with the 30 others, but by 10 p.m, it was pretty tough to keep our eyes open.

This was all in all, an absolute epic journey.  I truly loved all the preparation, the lead up, the ride and the aftermath.  I will be back for more of the same - hopefully in 2023!

When I returned to Windsor,  CBC radio contacted me. They had heard that I was involved in some silliness overseas and wanted to chat about it.  Tony Doucette is an incredible interviewer, and I really enjoyed spending the time in studio with him.  Here is what we had to say.

If you ever want to talk about the event, perhaps your thinking of tackling it contact me directly - I would love to help!

- Darcy Haggith, President, Infinit Nutrition Canada

Friday, May 1, 2020

Darcy Haggith: Staying Healthy, Staying Home

As many of you know, we have featured a bunch of our Team Infinit athletes over the last couple weeks, seeing how they were managing mentally and physically through this time we find ourselves in.  I thought I would share how I have been managing and how I am preparing to be my best when competition comes back into the fold.

What was your main athletic focus prior to COVID-19 actions?

My focus, prior to the COVID-19 actions, was getting back to a good state of bike fitness.  I lost a dear friend in November and frankly, it put me into a bit of a tailspin. I didn’t ride much at all for a couple of months and my diet… to put it into perspective, I cycled 13000 km in the first 10 months of 2019 and then a mere 500km in the last two.  During the Christmas break I looked at some family photos we we had taken - I hadn’t realized it until then, but I had really packed it on.  I guess going from 300 km/week on the bike down to next to nothing, along with eating carelessly, will have a dramatic impact.  In the New Year my wife and I headed off to Australia and New Zealand for some work and play. For the first time in ages, I travelled without my bike. With no bike but plenty of good craft beers and great food, even with regular, incredibly vigorous hikes, I made no progress to getting back to my fighting weight.

A month later, as soon as I was back in North America - literally, I started riding again.  Actually, it was before I even got home. I rented a bike in LA during a long layover.  From that time on, I was back on track, averaging close to 300 km per week again. For me, when I train well, my diet comes right back - I think of food as fuel for biking. 

My goal (other than getting below 180 lbs again) was to be ready for a 24 hr tag-team mountain bike race at Albion Hills with my friend Matt.  Right now, my legs are ready, but the race has been canceled.

Understand you may not have a definitive competition schedule at the moment, how are you approaching your training now?

My training at the moment is all about improving my fitness level.  I have been immersed in the Zwift community.  I completed 6 weeks of FTP interval work and most recently our ESR (East Side Riders) bike group has been virtually coming together Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. It's great to ride with my friends, and at least on some level, feel the connection. I will continue to push hard inside on Zwift and outside as the weather continues to improve.  My thought is, the stronger my bike fitness, the more opportunities I will have with respect to competitions or long randonneur type rides - even virtual ones.

What positives, if any, can you take from our situation with respect to your training and being best prepared for a return to competition?

Typically I build fitness from December through to March on the trainer through various Zwift rides.  Honestly, for the last 2 years, I have been the fittest in April when coming off of my indoor riding, so this year with the indoor season extended, I am more fit than the previous 2 years.  I am 52, so I love that we can continue to get stronger and more fit as we age healthily!  I will hold on to my indoor rides (likely 2-3 a week) during the whole season, so I can continue to build and take on whatever presents itself.  Last night I decided I to ride Alpe Du Zwift to see where I was at fitness-wise.  I managed to crack the <1 hour mark for the climb, averaging 260 watts.  Comparing this to February 2019 - I shaved off more than 3 minutes and managed to generate 37 more watts on average.  I did wear a heart rate monitor last night, and my average heart rate was 147.  It will be good to see if I can lower that a couple beats and match the same power in a couple of months. 

How has your training benefitted your mental state as we Canadians maintain social distancing?

I can say unequivocally that my daily bikes and pushing my fitness has been my saviour as we have social distanced.  Managing the business, pivoting so we can maintain a breakeven level until we get to the other side, being there for our employees - making sure they are meaningfully employed, all while being a good husband, dad and friend has pushed me to the limit.  It has been a challenge.  When I hop on the bike, it is all about the bike - nothing else matters for the 1, 2, 3 hours…whatever.  It has been a great respite and a key part of actually enjoying the challenges that have been thrown our way.

I look forward to the new normal, but I will be certain to take the lessons I have learned adapting to our current situation and add them to my ever-expanding toolbox.

- Darcy Haggith, President, Infinit Nutrition Canada

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Pierce Johnson: Staying Healthy, Staying Home

What was your main athletic focus prior to COVID-19 actions?

My Focus prior to the COVID-19 actions was getting prepared for a successful offseason. While this past year had its highlights, it ended much sooner than I had planned and left a bitter feeling in my stomach. I do not want to leave anything on the table going into my final season at the University of Windsor.

Understand you may not have a definitive competition schedule at the moment, how are you approaching your training now?

Training is very different now without access to gyms and I can't say I wasn't concerned about my training at the start of this.  However, the trainer for my team has given me an amazing program that is allowing me to continue training without falling behind on my offseason plan.

What positives, if any, can you take from our situation with respect to your training and being best prepared for a return to competition?

One positive I am taking away from this is that is forcing myself to rest and recover. While I do take recovery very seriously, I often push myself to get back into the gym or on the court sometimes too quickly which sometimes leads to some injuries. This time is allowing myself to improve on deficiencies I have which will allow me to train at a higher level when things get back to normal.

How has your training benefitted your mental state as we Canadians maintain social distancing?

This break has definitely benefited my mental state. It has almost felt like a reset button has been hit and I’m more focused and mentally prepared for training once things get back to normal.

Sounds like you are using time wisely and hitting it old school with your crafty bench.  Thanks for sharing Pierce.

- Darcy Haggith, President, Infinit Nutrition Canada

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Medal They Will Remember Most!

As we continue to play it safe and social distance, I am working remotely, only our production folks are working at our Infinit facility, here in Windsor.  Every morning I have a call with the staff and of course on Monday's we discuss how our weekends went.  So when I got to Craig, one of our productions employees, "hey Craig what did you run this weekend?"  His quick reply, I ran a marathon.  What?!

I knew Craig had been training for Glass City Marathon with some of his training group and friends from the Blue Herron Blazers, Ryan had a group a runners ready for spring marathon in Ohio.  A small group, Craig, Stephanie and Erik all decided that they were going to do what they can, nothing stopping them from doing a full marathon.  They had all the fitness, might as well put it to good use!  All 3 happen to use Infinit Run for their marathon training/racing.  All 3 had personal bests, here are their individual race reports.

Stephanie Trepanier - Social Distance Marathon recap
Official time of 3:29:02 - avg. pace of 4:57/km PB by 11 minutes.  The most comfortable and calm I’ve ever felt racing.  After my first marathon in September, I assessed what worked and what didn’t.
This time around was different. I was nervous and respected the distance. I trained based on advice from the experienced and showed up to put in the time.

From the start, I felt great. Calf pain was gone and I felt calm and relaxed.  My on course fuel and hydration was on point. Infinit RUN has been a game changer for me!

Fast forward to the good stuff... As I approached the elusive 32km, I was scared that all those good feelings I had were going to quickly fade.
-My ass started to hurt a bit, my feet were swelling, but the pains were manageable and my fuel and hydration was on point. My body was relaxed and I continued on with my game plan and the kilometres were flying by.
-As I made the last turn and had only 5km to go, I knew I was going to hit my goal and decided to cautiously pick it up a bit. It felt comfortable.
-With 3kms to go, I was wiping the tears from my eyes and couldn’t contain my joy. I freaking did it! Just a little more. I’m sure those washing their cars and watching my back and forth running for 3+hours were questioning my sanity and well being at this point.
-500 m to go and I saw some of my BHB fam at the finish line. It was an ugly cry mixed with laughter.

The result is just the tip of the iceberg. Countless hours, training, commitment and support are only some of the essentials that brought me to this point. I couldn’t do this without the help and support from @ec.running , Craig (who joined in on the fun at the last minute and paced me) and the rest of my running family who were there today and/or who are there to push me, motivate me and support me through and through. I love what I do and I can’t wait to set a new goal.

Erik Chovan - Social Distance Marathon recap

This weekend I ran my 5th marathon. It was very special in the sense that it wasn't an official race.

We've been following a training plan and putting in the work to only find out that the race got cancelled. We were disappointed but figured might as well go ahead and run it anyways. We were excited to have Craig Gillissie join in last minute!

We headed out to tackle 4x 10k(ish) loops. Very thankful for our friends Mike King and Kelly Jean for the aid stations every 5k. Greatly appreciated.

My initial goal was trying to get a BQ time however since it wasn't an actual race I'd be happy to just PB. I was on target for a solid time but hit a wall with 8k left. Dug deep and picked it up to finish at 3:18:57.

I'm excited to continue my training and have another crack and improving even more....Also huge congrats to Steph Trepanier for crushing her goal and keeping a solid pace with clean splits.

Craig Gillissie - Social Distance Marathon recap

What an amazing race! So glad that Erik and Steph invited me out to run with them. Extremely happy with my PB of 3:30:53, but even happier that they reached their goals and ran PBs too. I'm really feeling a sense of pride that they were both willing to try Infinit Run to help them perform their best on race day.  I look forward to them setting new goals and achieving them in the future! 

Congrats again in Steph and Erik!
After Repair, maybe the best recovery beverage of all: Beer!

We love seeing people reach their full potential.  If you feel we can play a part in you achieving your best performance - contact me directly.  I would love to help!

- Darcy Haggith, President, Infinit Nutrition Canada

Pamela Ware: Staying Healthy, Stay Home

What was your main athletic focus prior to COVID-19 actions?

Before the COVID-19 started I was focusing on Diving World Series, we had just finished the first leg in Montreal and was heading to Russia and London for the other 2. These competitions were a chance to possibly be pre-qualified for Tokyo2020.

Understand you may not have a definitive competition schedule at the moment, how are you approaching your training now?

Just like everyone else, I do not know when I will be back to the pool training normally, but I have an extra bedroom in my apartment and I transformed it into a small gym. I’m able to do weight training almost the same as I usually do and I have a treadmill and bike so I’m able to do cardio. It is obviously not the same. Some days I have ZERO motivation to get out of bed and workout inside my house but I still push myself to get what needs to be done to stay in shape and ready for when I get to start diving again!

What positives, if any, can you take from our situation with respect to your training and being best prepared for a
Pamela stopped by Infinit last year when competing in Windsor
return to competition?

It is obviously not the same training inside a small room. Some days I have ZERO motivation to get out of bed and workout inside my house but I still push myself to get what needs to be done to stay in shape and ready for when I get to start diving again! I want my comeback to be smooth and easy so I am doing everything possible to make that happen.

How has your training benefitted your mental state as we Canadians maintain social distancing?

I am having a hard time. This situation has for sure pushed me to be mentally stronger. I have felt pretty much every emotion possible, from angry to sad to stressed, happy, excited and so on… But I am trying to stay positive as much as possible, some days are easier than others but I still try!

I love your honestly Pamela - thanks for sharing the ups and downs that you are experiencing.  This has been a battle for all of us.

- Darcy Haggith, President, Infinit Nutrition Canada