Mike’s Ironman Cozumel Race Postmorten

Ayesha and I at the Finish with our medals.

Ayesha and I at the Finish with our medals.

Ok I’m finally getting around to writing my race postmortem. Cozumel was my first Ironman and though I thought it would be my last, much like my first marathon (I’ve done 5 now 6 if you include Cozumel), it may not be my last. Going into Ironman Cozumel, I expected the worst and prepared for it. I knew it would be hot and humid from my 1/2 Ironman experience in the Cozumel in September. I prepared myself through heat acclimatizing and formulating a good hydration plan.

To heat acclimatized I did all my long bikes (up to 5hrs) and long runs (nearly 3hrs) inside. I know this sounds insane, but I think it worked and the theory says it does work.

I had a hydration and electrolyte plan that I practiced on my long indoor rides and runs. I formulated this plan by measuring how much I was sweating per hour by taking my weight before and after an indoor ride. I took my starting weight – my finish weight + added any fluid I drank to get how much I sweat per hour. I sweat about 1.5L per hour under hot humid conditions. I used my sweat rate to calculated how much salt I needed. You can do this easily if you know how much you sweat and assume the sodium content of your sweat, I used this good resource to figure out my concentration concentration. The next step is to total all the sodium you will take in an hour (including sports drinks, gels, bars, and salt pills) and match it to your sodium need per hour. To meet my sodium needs I drank 1.5 of Gatorade, ate 2 Cliff gels, and took 4 E-Load salt pills per hour on the bike. I cut the Gatorade down to about 1 litre per hour on the run.

The race went really well. The swim was really rough with a strong current from the north. I heard that hundreds of people didn’t make it out of the water. My time was slower than I wanted, but still good relatively speaking. I took the bike really easy, trying to never let my watts go much above 200. When I finally started the run everything felt really relaxed, no muscle tightness. I took the run easy trying to stay just under 5:00/km. The whole race I was thinking the race doesn’t start until the first half of the marathon is over (some good advice I got from a friend, Glen). I only focused on managing my pace and sticking to my nutrition and hydration plan. Before I knew it I was approaching the finish line. With about 200m left to go a feeling of euphoria came over me and I sprinted to the line. I really didn’t expect it and I’ve felt such intense happiness at the end of marathon before.

After some post race pizza and coke I went back to the hotel room for a nap. Then I went back to see the last finishers at 11pm and it was truly inspirational. If you ever have the chance to do this I highly recommend it whether you’ve participated in the race or not, but especially if you’ve participated.

I’m not sure if I’ll do another Ironman anytime soon, but I’m pretty sure I will do another one. If only I could somehow avoid the 5hr bike rides in training I might do it sooner rather than later.

Ayesh and I scoping out the race start.

Ayesh and I scoping out the race start.

Mike Medeiros

Ayesha’s Cozumel Race Report

You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best you have to give.

– Eleanor Roosevelt


I usually hate it when people wish me luck going into races.  I don’t feel that luck has a lot to do with outcome if you have dedicated yourself to the preparation.  Good luck might apply to getting your bike in one piece off the plane ; but it shouldn’t apply to having your bike stay together during the race.  If you haven’t done your due diligence with your bike parts, maintenance and assembly and it falls apart during a race, this is not bad luck.  This is negligence.

I am openeing with this quote from E. R and with this rant on luck because open mindesness, courage and preperation are the themes of my Ironman race report.


I completed my first Ironman on November 25th.  I raced to a 9:53 which was 10 minutes under my goal. 

The Race

The weather on race day proved to better than I expected.  It was 25, sunny with some cloud, 20km/hour winds.  Best of all, the water was churning and choppy because the wind was blowing from a different direction than it usually does.  In the past the swim had been 5-12% faster than normal due to favorable currents and glass-like water.  Not this day. 

As I lined up with the over 75 other pros (men and women combined – a huge feild by Ironman standards) I chose a spot at the front, closer to shore.  The current would be a little less strong closer to shore.

When the gun went I pushed hard to get away from the weaker swimmers and to try to get onto the feet of the stronger swimmers of the feild.  This was easier than I had imagined and by less than 200m I had broken free of the masses and was swimming comfortably fast pace on someone’s feet.  The pace was not devastating and so I figured that the super swimmers (Mary Beth Ellis and Tenille Hoogland) were already well ahead.  This was good – it meant that these were probably going to remain my feet for the rest of the race.  The left side of my neck had been a bit tight during the days prior (from sleeping in a new bed, carrying bags for travel) and the index to middle fingers on my left hand promptly numb at about 300m.  This was annoying, but nothing I haven’t dealt with before in open water.  I just had to make sure I didn’t just ignore my left side completely; I had to be constantly aware of hand mechanics on the left side.  I sighted as infrequently as possible with the faith that my leader wanted to swim as straight a line as possible.  I only ended up running into two bouys because she cut them really close. This is a tradeoff I am okay with!  As we were swimming I was getting a little mad at myself for being such a bad drafter.  I just couldn’t stay off her feet both into and against the current.  I kept trying to adjust my arm entry, my kick, everything, but I was running into her feet what seemed to be every stroke.  It was only after the race I would realize why.

We made final turn and started heading the 800m towards the swim finish.  I had been counting the 200m laps that my Garmin was chiming out.  On this final stretch I thought I hadn’t noticed my watch for a couple of laps because it was taking so long between chimes.  I also felt a little boredom settle in.  The swim seemed to get too easy…So with what I thought was about 300m to go, I pushed past my escort.  I honestly just wanted to play a bit.  She matched my stroke and hung close to my hip for the final section.

Getting out of the water I felt fresh. Jogging along the ramp my heart rate was low, my shoulders felt relaxed, my Achilles didn’t ache.  Sometimes after a long, open water swim my calves and Achilles feel stiff and sore from being in the plantar flexed position for so long (this doesn’t happen in the pool because of all the pushing off the walls).  I was told that this is the feeling you should be striving for upon exiting the water in an Ironman.  I was looking forward to getting on my bike.

As I jogged towards transition I asked the volunteer if I HAD to go through the change tent.  I hadn’t left a T1 bag on the racks and I didn’t need to change and it was shorter just to follow the mats into transition.  The volunteer said no and blocked my path, so I went allll thheee wayyy around and through the tent.  This was a preparation mistake:  I hadn’t needed to do this and I should have looked at the WHOLE T1 setup and asked my questions BEFORE the race.  Instead the day before I had sat, waiting at my bike while Mike did the whole T1 run through twice.  This is something I normally do.  I was cocky and it cost me 30 seconds to 1 minute (This may not seem like much, but it is free time that I threw in the garbage).

At my bike I took the time to put arm coolers on.  It is amazing how time slows down and the attention narrows at transition.  Every movement seems to take fore-ever. The simple movement of shoving my salt pills in my bra feels like 15 seconds in my memory, when it probably took 3 seconds.


I had my instructions and plan for the bike.  I did not get caught up in any drama – particularly because my transition had taken so long and the other girls were gone – in the first 20kms.  I did what I trained to do, my only concern was that I felt a little tightness in my VMOs.  This tightness went away as my system got into its rhythm.  My only deviation was to take an unplanned gel after 10 min on the bike.  I  had felt hunger pains at 6:35 AM when I had gone to the start to line up, so I figured I may need a few more cals than I had planned.  I wasn’t used to such an early start and my stomach wasn’t ready for the breakfast calorie requirements of an Ironman and unfortunately this left me a little hungry.  Again, this is something I did have control over; it was a mistake not to practice this. To compensate I grabbed a few extra gels at the aid stations just in case. I did take 1 more that was unplanned and I drank a little bit more gatorade than I had planned.

At about 20km, I came together with a couple of pro women.  We worked together and managed to pick up 2 pro men and a 4th pro woman.  It was really great to have company over the remainding 160kms.  At times one or two of us lost contact, but we were all together by the end.  Many people have asked me what I thought about for 5.25 hours on a flat,3  loop course.   I don’t remember being bored –  I seemed to have a lot to think about in terms of execution and technique.  One of the very specific instructions I was given by Coach David Tilbury-Davis was to force my aero position and to minimize coming out of it, even for nutrition, when I hit the windy sections.  I had to stay on track of my timing of my nutrition and coordinate with the non windy sections.  I had to pay attention to surges and changes in our little group’s dynamics.  I had to negotiate feed stations and all the thongs of people in the second and third loops (2700 people were all on a 63km loop by the second loop…if you run the numbers that is over 40 people every kilometer…).  I had specific technical things I was working on in terms of aero position and core engagement.  The right side of my low back tightened up in the first loop and I was managing that discomfort.  I was thinking about cadence, power, speed. On occastion I made comments to myself about how that person I just passed really shouldn’t be sitting up into the wind…and that person really shouldn’t be wearing all black, including compression sleeves in this weather…And things like “Wow.  That guy  has a clear plastic shopping bag with a sandwich inside of it tied to the underside of his seat”.  Honestly, I don’t think I thought about much else.  I got the job done, to the best of my ability and according to plan. 

T2 went smoothly – I didn’t feel any tightness in the quads or calves getting off the bike.  I loved how the volunteers actually put my hat on for me!  I felt so ‘taken care of’!

Heading out onto the run, I was nervous.  I was about to run a marathon.  A full marathon.  The longest I had run was 36 kms, let alone a marathon.  But I had my pace, nutrition and electrolyte plan and specific instructions not to make any decisions before 30kms.

I felt like I was jogging.  And I told myself that this was okay and this is what I should feel like.  I struggled to go slower than 4:40/km, when I was told to go no faster than 4:50/km.  I told myself to slow down.  I lambasted myself for making decisions…and I argued with myself that I wasn’t making decisions, that I couldn’t go any slower, that I felt like I was jogging.  This continued for 10kms until I did slow down.  My HR was holding were I wanted it to be, so I let the pace drift up.  The run was still enjoyable and felt fairly easy until about 24kms.  Then it got hard and I had to focus to hold the pace under 5:00/km.  I was fortunate to have motivation from pro women behind me, chasing me down, and ahead of me who I was catching.  I focused on 1km at a time.  I drank at every water station.  And then something weird happened around 28kms.  Things, I guess were starting to shut down, including mental faculties.  I got a thought into my head that I had been drinking too much pure water (even though I had been taking electrolyte pills diligently) and that if I didn’t stop I was going to get hyponitremia.  So I stopped taking water.  I reverted to Pepsi only at each water station that had it (which wasn’t every one).  The secondary thought was that I shouldn’t eat my gels if I am not drinking water. So I also stopped eating my gels.  My HR started dropping as did my pace.  My HR eventually fell to about 10 beats less than what I had been previously pumping at. Thankfully the Pepsi provided enough hydration and cals to keep me going, although slowly. My quads started to feel like rocks and everything in me wanted to walk.  I kept myself going by repeating the words “just keep running”.  A bit like Dora the Explorer…”Just keep swimming, just keep swimming”.  Every step was painful as my quad contracted agains the pavement.  It felt like someone was thumping them with sledgehammers.  I did keep running, it seems surreal that I didn’t walk.  I thought in the back of my mind that if I walked I may not get started again.  This seemed to keep the legs going.

Seeing the crowds at the finish, seeing the finish line, seeing my time…there should have been some divine, spiritual elation.  But, sadly, I felt nothing but that I had prepared and executed well.  

This brings us back to the quote from E. R.

I accepted that I needed to do an Ironman to understand the training and the race to its core.  I did not do this as a lifelong dream to finish or podium.  And so, I must accept that I did not have brilliant moments anywhere in the race.  I took on this challenge, and with my coach, prepared as meticulously as possible for this specific race. Finally, I commited to doing the best I could on the day.  Could I have done better?  Perhaps.  Do I want to do another one?  Not at this point.  I took it on, did the best I could do and I am happy with the result.


I will post pictures and more detail regarding the prep, lessons learned and some more reflections in the coming days. Stay tuned.

Hot Weather Racing

At the Race Start at the Cozumel 70.3, there are dolphins in the background.

2 weekends ago I raced in the Cozumel 70.3 and it was really hot. I knew it was going to be hot, but I thought that I could finish before the heat exhaustion really set in. I was wrong. The swim was great, the bike was good until about 70kms in when I felt the heat was really taking its toll on me. I slowed down a bit, but by the time I got to the run I knew that I would not be able to survive the 40 C (with the humid X) so I decided to cut my losses and walk every water station. I made sure to stuff ice down my shirt (a tip I got from Leslie, thanks Leslie), drink lots of Gatorade and douse myself with water. While my run time was not great I did manage to stave off heat exhaustion and finish the race relatively unscathed. I consider myself lucky as I had a friend who needed an I.V. after the race. Though I wasn’t prepared well for the heat of this race there are ways that you can prepare for an race where hot weather is expected, if you live and train in a cool climate like in TO.
To heat acclimatize you can overdress for your workouts or do them in warmer temperatures inside. When you go out for a run overdress or better yet do it inside on the treadmill. For bike training, you can bike inside with no fan, this really makes you sweat due to the lack of wind, but simulates hot humid conditions. Well this won’t make for the most enjoyable training, it’ll certainly prepare you the next time you have a race in a hot place like Cozumel, Mexico.
Mike M.

Figuring Out the Run

Ayesha and I after the Muskoka 70.3 race

Last weekend I had my best triathlon race every, I won my age group at the Muskoka 1/2 Ironman in Huntsville. Above is a photo of Ayesh and I after a great day at Muskoka. I had a good swim and a solid bike, but what was most surprising is that my run was by far the best I’ve every done on this course and I’ve done it twice before. Why this is really interesting is because I have not been running all the much this season and really have done next to no bricks as I’ve been plagued by my achilles bursitis. It’s wasn’t just a one time fluke either, because in all of the tris I’ve done this year I’ve had solid runs.

So what gives? Is the secret to a great run, not to run train? I don’t think so. Though I haven’t been running all that much, I’ve done more biking than I’ve ever done in preparation for my Ironman in Cozumel. I’ve biked as long as 100 miles in a single training session which I’ve never done before. This is well over the 90km that you need to complete the 1/2 ironman bike. Typically, after a long hard bike I’ve always struggled off the bike with tight quads or calves and eventually I totally seize up or had to slow down to avoid it. Lately, with all those extra bike miles I hardly feel any tightness on the run.

So the takeaway is bike training and especially endurance bike training is key to success on the run. If you want to have a great run off the bike, don’t forget to put in the training time on the bike. Your quads will thank you when it comes time to hit the ground running.


More Trek Swims

Swimming to the sunrise this AM at Woodbine beach was cold at 66 degrees and probably the roughest conditions I’ve experienced in Lake Ontario yet, so of course that made it an incredible swim! I might have had a moment or two of panic when I couldn’t see my swim partners because the waves were a little high….and because I felt a little sea sick, but that all made it epic. Way to start Labour Day!

While I don’t have pics of the sunrise off Toronto this morning, I realized we were missing a pics of our last Trek Swim Clinic at Cherry Beach led by Mike. The free clinic is a great refresher and opportunity to field many open water swim questions. Triathletes have a lot to think about starting and exiting the swim–at out clinics we can practice the many nuances in a safe and controlled simulated race environment. Also, watching Mike miraculously not put holes in his wetuit despite his less than delicate tug on it, is worth catching.

Mike Teaching

Mike’s Delicate Feet

My coached athlete Christine Wallace just having finished 15th at Long Course World’s–she’s getting a refresher!

Someone has to watch the bikes….


August Open Water Swimming in Lake O

Ayesha collecting her award at the LOST swim race.

First of all the final Tri Trek Toronto Event was held in early August and again was well attended and great fun to facilitate. I was happy to introduce open water swimming to new triathletes and non triathletes alike and even happier to acquaint people with swimming in our own backyard hear in TO. Thanks again to our main sponsors the Trek Bicycle Store and Cliff Bars for helping put on these events.

Later in August, I followed up the open waters swim sessions with some open water swimming of my own, The LOST 3.8km swim and the Toronto Island Tri. Both events again involved open water swimming in our own backyard in Lake O. Ayesha won the race of course, see photo above, me I let just say survived the race. The lost swim was the first time I have ever swum a 3.8km race and the conditions were definitely difficult to say the least. The race was a point to point heading west into 3-4 ft waves the whole way. During the race I started to understand why it was called the LOST race, because I felt lost out there. With no real land marks or sense of where I was going I definitely lost it mentally about half way in and gave up, not I was going under give up, but I stopped “racing” and let the feet in front of me go. Fortunately, the lapse was temporary and I caught another pair of feet later and rode those babies all the way in. Definitely much easier to swim behind someone on so many levels. I think that this swim definitely prepared me for the Ironman swim (did I mention I doing Ironman Cozumel), as nothing will seem long after swimming in those conditions.

Some craze people did a 10k race that day! I don’t know how they got through it. The whole experience is something I won’t forget and it gives me a whole new appreciation for what Annaleise Carr did, 52k across Lake O at 14, unbelievable. 


Mike M.


I had beautiful trip to Newburyport MA on Boston’s North shore where my sister got married on the beach. I wrote of the stunning and undervalued beach front in Toronto a few posts ago, but these pics taken off Plum Island really make me miss living near the ocean. I was able to get in some good rides, when the foot would cooperate, but actually sitting in the sun…as in sitting perfectly still in the sun, was a rare and very much enjoyed experience. My crew and I never seem to do that. My biggest highlights: a wedding, seeing my fit and fabulous pregnant twin, and a very cherished visit from the sweetness of Long Island.

NOT SO FAVORITE PART: a trip to emerg and an xray on a very angry foot but thankfully no fracture….here’s me doing a little retail therapy on that foot!







Admittedly life would feel much easier if perspective was always effortlessly attained…but, (at least in my world), it takes hours of refocusing, reformatting, re-contextualizing and sometimes simply a little bit of time to achieve the most accurate and/or productive perspective. Finally, a few weeks later- my IM Lake Placid that wasn’t, has become a race that “was,” and one that despite not finishing, has given me enormous insight into myself as an athlete and as a person.

My long build to IM Lake Placid was tough, committed, impassioned, driven, and decidedly successful, even “training” through racing a few halfs which was challenging physically and on the egoJ, but that all went well and I was eager to see what I could do on the hills of Keene. However, while race day itself didn’t yield the opportunity to fully showcase my preparation, it did yield the chance for me to see that I can swim far faster than I have been, coming out of the water in second place and sticking with Suzanne Serpico who raced an incredibly gutsy and inspiring race all day. She rocked it out there.


 Although I hit some mechanical issues going into the second loop of the bike which I allowed to get to me far more than they ever will again, I started out with a strong first loop during which I felt confident, strong and really comfortable riding in second.  Those are certainly 2 bodily memories I will take into my next race. Before leaving Toronto for Placid I learned that the foot issues I have been navigating for the last few years will require surgery and that, well that too, I let get the better of me. Something else that won’t happen again! Instead, I’m working on a plan of action for the quickest most successful recovery. 

Perhaps the most amazing thing about my Placid experience was how much it reminded me of the power of sport to connect–its ability to link, to join, to unite across all kinds of divides. As we stood on the shore of Mirror Lake, nervous and anticipatory, staring at the buoys, awed at how far the turn-around appeared,  fellow pro and gorgeous spirit Erin Spitler (http://erinspitler.blogspot.ca/) gave me a good luck hug, and it was one of the those hugs that goes right to the core because it was one that in that very moment “understood” –despite only having met a few times… and though we both had tough days out there, I’m so grateful for the chance to get to know Erin more. The sport attracts such strong, powerful, talented and lovely women …who thrive on thriving. Awesome!! I also had the privilege of being well-looked after by my friend Brandon Whitby and the NRG coaching (www.nrgpt.com) crew Nigel Grey and JJ (thank you fellow pro mom-to-be Fiona for lending out your hubby and brother for the weekendJ). Seriously, they made me feel at ease, answered my million questions, and kept me smiling all weekend. Finally, my own super coach Tara Norton (www.taranorton.com), Bruce, and baby Maya were the perfect cheering squad and med tent rescue. I love you guys.

In my many years of reading the modernist masters, I recall somewhere coming across a reference to William Faulkner’s yearly practice of reading James Joyce’s almost 1000 page Ulysses (…every year!?!) and certainly Joyce’s text can be seen throughout Faulkner’s work. Similarly, I have a very dear friend who reads Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One about that much…and that fact has sent me back to the book many times myself (think Chariot’s of Fire or Rocky or Once a Runner laced with the political strife of South Africa, racism and survival). Every once and while I open the book at random and fall upon precisely the message I need to hear. This is what I came upon today:


“I was seldom concerned with winning a particular fight; instead I was cultivating the habit of winning. Winning is a state of mind that embraces everything you do, so I found I won in other things as well.”

That’s what I aspire to: a winning state of mind. To be sure there are wins in imagined losses…it’s a shift in perspective. Such is my current quest, my reformatting, re-contextualizing.


Next up: long seaside rides in Newburyport Mass, stand up paddle boarding, maybe a ride in my friend’s plane over the sea, my twin sister’s wedding, and a visit with my soon to be nephew (my sister is expecting) !! I can’t wait.





Intermediate Open Water Swim Clinic at Cherry Beach

The Tri Trek Toronto Team will be hosting a free open water swim clinic tomorrow at beautiful Cherry Beach. The Intermediate Open Water Swim Clinic will be held at Cherry Beach (end of Cherry Street at Lake Ontario, we will meet by the washrooms) on August 7th at 7pm and will last about 1 hour. This is a free clinic (Thanks to the Trek Bicycle Store) that will be geared more towards swimmers with some previous open water swim experience. You will need to bring a swim suit, goggles, a bright swim cap, and a wetsuit (this is not necessary, as I went out on Saturday without one and water was warm)

The clinic will cover:
-a quick recap of sighting, navigating the course and effective buoy turns
-drafting techniques
– a couple of practice mini races with mass starts were we try to apply the skill learned above (this is great opportunity to practice this as it is tough to do on your own )
-exiting the swim and getting the wetsuit off quickly

Thanks to our sponsor, Cliff Bar, we will also have Cliff bars to give away for all survivors.

To sign up add your name at the link below.

Hope to see you there.

Mike Medeiros

Toronto Festival Triathlon was a Blast

Looking tired at the end of a hot run.

I participated in my first triathlon of the season, the inaugural Toronto Festival Triathlon. No I don’t know why they called it a festival triathlon. Maybe the “festival” part of the name was for the beer that you could apparently buy afterwords. In all seriousness though, I thought that for a first kick at the can at a downtown olympic tri, it was run really well and was a great race that I’d definitely do again.

A bit about the race. The swim was in Lake O, in and around Ontario Place. The water was not to weedy and warm about 21 C. The deep water start was nice, not too crowded to the first buoy. Getting out of the water was easy and smooth with a nice step out of the water. There were lots of volunteers ensuring you didn’t slip or fall in the stupor that you can be in when you go from swim position to the vertical run position. The transition area was well laid out and spacious. The bike was amazing! What can beat biking on the Gardiner and DVP, very cool, safe and smooth. The run was on the Lakeshore bike path and well supported with water and Gatorade. The path was mostly free of bike traffic and wide enough for the volume of runners.

The only improvement would be moving the finish closer to the transition area. The transition area was over 1km away from the finish, so the “festival” was kind of spread out between the transition area and the finish. The post race gathering would be improved by keeping the transition and finish areas close together as you always need to walk back to the transition area to get your bike and gear at the end of the race. Also the event was a bit stingy with the food at the end of the try, really half a banana per athlete, we just swam 1.5k, biked 40k and ran 10k. I’ve seen 10k running races with more liberal post race food.

I’m sure that next year the TO Festival Triathlon will continue and be even better than it was this year. I’m really happy that Toronto finally has an Olympic Tri in the core of the city and really hope it continues.

One final note, don’t forget that there one more Tri happening in the city, Toronto Island Mulitsport Tri on August 25th, which has been going on for years and is also a great event if you’d like do a tri in your own backyard (assuming of course you live in Toronto)

Happy training.