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Race Thoughts – ITU Long Course Triathlon World Championships, Penticton, BC, Aug 27, 2017

Sat, 28 Oct by Bryon Howard

What happened with me?  Age is just a number – but be careful.

20 years ago in 1997 I was playing squash at the Charlottetown YMCA. In the change room, three friends arrived in their run gear – laughing, having fun and were now going for a swim. I asked why. This was the day I became aware of triathlon, and the last day I played squash.

Shortly after that I registered for Spudman – an Olympic Distance Triathlon in Prince Edward Island National Park. My wife begged me not to. She thought I may die, or at best – just be way too exhausted to be any help with our two kids under three and our Sea Kayaking business.

I did the race – loved it, and since that day – 90% of my workouts have been outside in nature with friends/training partners.

Two years ago I decided it would be fun to qualify for the Worlds ITU race, and race with Team Canada.

A year ago, I qualified at Challenge Penticton taking 2nd place in the age group in a time of 6 hours and 30min. (37th Overall).

Over the past 20 years, I raced lots, had great training partners, and did pretty well as an age group athlete. I have loved training and racing was the icing on the cake.

I would wake each morning and excitedly get out the door to meet a friend each day for a swim, bike, run or ski. We varied the intensity of each of those works outs … and I loved them all.

I recently turned 50.  I’ve been cranky.  I approach workouts as a chore, and just get them done – ‘out of the way’.

Until this very moment, I was thinking it was just the aging process. However, I think I know what changed!!!  I’ve been training alone.  For whatever reason, I haven’t sought out regular training partners. I hate training alone!

Back to yesterday’s race – the  ITU Long Course Triathlon World Championships.

I dreamed of being on the podium … visualized running strong. I finished 9th in the age group and 77th from 821 (not including Pro’s) in a time of 6 hours and 47 minutes.  I was 16 minutes slower than last year.   My swim 4 minutes slower, My bike 1 minutes slower, my run 10 minutes slower – and my transitions 2 minutes slower.

I was a whole 37 minutes behind the winner of my 50-54 age group.  Even if I raced equivalent to last year – I would have been 4th this year & 5 minutes off 3rd. It was a strong international group – as I knew it would be.

I gave everything I had yesterday, and had the best day I could based on my training the past year. I’m grateful for my health and to have made it to the start and finish line.  It was great having five days in Penticton with not much to do but hang out with my wife and adult son, visiting old friends.

I’ve heard “Age is just a number”.  I believe this. However, I think we need to be aware what age does to us.  As kids, we naturally seek out other kids to play. As we age, we get selfish with our time, our plan, our own schedules.

For the past 20 years, the sport of triathlon has been about play. I’d meet friends and have fun. When it turns into Training … for ‘training’ sake, it becomes less fun. I recognize that the past year I ‘trained’ … without the play.

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About Bryon Howard

Bryon Howard and his team of Calgary real estate professionals sell an average of two homes a week. He is a member of the MLS Million Point Club, which ranks him roughly in the top 1% of productive realtors in Calgary. His aim is not just to please clients but to help them buy/sell a home in Calgary at the best price, in the shortest time, and with the least hassle. He is a member of the RE/MAX House of Real Estate that leads in the Canadian market. Learn more about Bryon at

Ironman Arizona, November 20, 2016 (When CDN Pro Lionel Sanders won and broke the Ironman Speed Record in a time of 7 hours  44 minutes and 29 seconds!)  

Wed, 23 Nov by Bryon Howard
Ironman Arizona - "Pro" Panel - My friend, Mom & wife

My Pro Panel … friend, Mom & Wife two days prior to Ironman Arizona.

I’ve been active all my life.  As a kid my brother and I built go-karts, and used them to salvage junk lumber to build our next tree house.  Those were my earliest memories of ‘sufferfests’ pulling loads of lumber through the neighbourhood to build the ‘best tree house’. Then there was our interval sessions … tobogganing up and down the neighbourhood hills in the freezing cold in Wabush, Labrador and later Charlottetown, PEI.  In grade 10, at Charlottetown Rural High School Rugby practice, I beat the entire team by doing 266 “Down-Ups”. Forrest K was 2nd with about 255 … and my brother Tommy was 3rd with about 220.  A significant increase over the previous record of 60 or 70 ‘Down-Ups’!

A few years ago, I committed to an Ironman race every 5 years.  This was my 6th Ironman since 2001. This is a 5 year ‘check-up / cycle’….this is how I roll.  

  • In the year or two after an Ironman, I enjoy the health and wellness benefits of what I’ve been through;
  • A two or three hour run or bike ride doesn’t seem like a big deal or a long event.
  • I have fun doing more local community races from paddling to ski mountaineering and can do reasonably well with little training or practice of the sport.
  • About 2 years prior to the ‘next’ ironman, I begin thinking about and getting specific about training.
  • I begin to think more about what I’m eating and how much alcohol I’m drinking. (I love to drink … and eat potato chips)
  • I get current on trends in the endurance world. This year I dove into the Ketogenic Diet … with ‘limited success’.

My goal was to Podium at Ironman Arizona on 10-12 hours of training per week.

Why did I think I could?

  • In 2008 I had an age group podium at Ironman Canada on similar training hours;
  • In 2015 (as I began training for this year’s Goal Race) I finished 2nd at Calgary 70.3;
  • This past summer I was 1st at Calgary 70.3 half Ironman – beating 2nd by 10 min;
  • At the end of August, I was 2nd at Canadian Nationals Long Course Triathlon in Penticton;
  • I trained this past year, not to finish, but to win. I sought out coaching and training partners who were faster than me … who would push me through sets of intervals.

What Happened at Ironman Arizona on Sunday?

  • I finished 7th in my age group, 167 overall – in a time of 10:08
  • I feel satisfied and happy with the result.

Why didn’t I Podium?

To begin with, it does not matter that I did not podium. Nobody cares – except me. A podium finish does nothing for me … other than make my ego bigger (which is hardly a necessity).

Since my last race at Canadian National Long Course Championships in Penticton, I’ve been pretty run down and frequently sick. While I was wondering why … the endurance coaches in my life said it was classic over training.

I finally had my blood tested in late September, and my hemoglobin was low. Again, the endurance coaches in my world, advised this is common for endurance athletes … and to rest for two weeks … listen to your body.

While I do not feel I was over trained, as I only train 10-12 hours per week, all the other stressors of life have an impact as well … as well as ‘too much racing’.  As a Realtor in this Calgary market, this past year I have put in record hours, for much less production than previous years. We are amid a tough market. Unbeknownst to me, my body knows this – and as explained to me by Natural Path Jason Ahlan and Endurance for Life Coach Mike Pascoe, it’s your body saying … enough already!   Your body is sending you a message – “Stop it”.

So, I would ‘mostly’ rest two weeks … begin to feel good … do a hard interval session … then get sick again. I had 3 or 4 cycles of this since the end of August.

I turned 50 today, 2 days after IM Arizona and I  feel very grateful to have completed the race in beautiful Arizona and to have done reasonably well.

A big thanks to Mike Pascoe

About a month prior to race day, as I was considering not going to Arizona & while making real estate calls, I happened to call Mike Pascoe, a Chinese Medicine practitioner and triathlon coach – Endurance For Life.   We spoke almost daily leading upto race day. We had fun discussions – me often sharing pictures of my tongue.  His analysis would dictate how I would proceed in my training ; push it, rest or fix!  (Based on my tongue … and a few other metrics!) I found this to be entertaining, interesting, kind, supportive and fun.  

I look forward to trying to podium again in 2021. I’m not even a tiny bit interested in doing another Ironman prior to then!

The Race – 10:08:49 – 7th in Age Group – 164th Overall

Swim – 2.4 miles – 1:04:54 – 1:40/100m  16th in Age Group / 245th overall

It’s interesting … I prefer the swim the most. I love the open water … the start in the morning twilight. However, comparatively to the Bike and Run – this is my worst discipline.

Bike – 112 miles – 5:12:16 – 8th in Age Group / 192th overall

I should love the bike…’butt’ I was in discomfort! This was a classic sign that I did not have enough time  in the saddle! .  There was a strong headwind  and I spent a good amount of the day ‘sitting up’ on the bike, instead of being in race aero position.

Run – 26.2 miles –  3:43:44 – 7th in Age Group / 164 overall

My goal was to run 5min per km to give me a 3:30 Marathon. Based on my run performance this past year … or two years … and especially the past 2 months – this was ambitious. I needed to ‘get some magic’.  I did the first 4 km on pace … then began slowing dramatically.  My goal soon became – “don’t stop … just keep on moving”. At kilometer 26 I was passed by an energetic beautiful 30ish gal … who suddenly gave me some mojo.   I picked up my pace and began to enjoy the run … until she dropped me 3 km from the finish line.

Lionel Sanders - Fastest EVER Ironman Time

I was thrilled to have my picture with Canadian Professional Lionel Sanders two days prior to him winning Ironman Arizona and breaking the Speed Record for an IRONMAN.

My Take Aways:

Ironman Arizona was very fun for a few reasons.  It was truly special to have my 80-year-old Mom travel from PEI to Calgary then onto Arizona for the big event .  I had the undivided attention of my wife as our older children are away in university!  Moreover, a family friend joined us and entertained us with endless triathlon ‘speak’!  We all got an education about our  Canadian Pro Triathletes, it was seriously so much fun to do nothing but talk about triathlon for 5 straight days!  Above all, I love being healthy and injury free. Health is a gift to be cherished!


About Bryon Howard

Bryon Howard is a RE/MAX Realtor in Calgary, dad, husband & lover of self propelled sport. He and his team of Calgary real estate professionals sell an average of two homes a week. He is a member of the MLS Million Point Club, which ranks him roughly in the top 1% of productive realtors in Calgary. He is a member of the RE/MAX House of Real Estate that leads in the Canadian market. Learn more about Bryon at

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