Meet Team McKnapp-Advil

Race season is half over, which means there are still two races to go. While injuries continue to threaten my goal of a full Olympic distance race this season (September 13 at Lakeside was the planned A-race), I can at very worst eke out two more long sprints before autumn takes hold.

So far this season, Team McKnapp-Advil has successfully completed a 5i50 at Guelph Lake, and a long sprint at Belwood. Each had its challenges, for sure, but both culminated in satisfactory results. At Guelph Lake, I proved to myself that I could run the 10k portion at a respectable pace, but more importantly, overcame huge doubts about an injured foot. At Belwood, I was taken out of my usual “short run first” format, in a different race series, and despite the hiccups, survived just fine. In fact, despite everything, I felt like I finished that one with the best mental strength of all my races to date.

Getting to the start line of each race, whatever length, will require further help from an amazing support team. Seems like a good time to introduce them, then, don’t you think?

Chef d’Équipe:

A rest day walk with the lovely chef d'équipe of Team McKnapp-Advil.

A rest day walk with the lovely chef d’équipe of Team McKnapp-Advil.

Team McKnapp rolls on because of the patience and dedication of its chef d’équipe. Not to mention her salary. In short, none of this would have gone beyond a first race without my awesome wife, Cherolyn.

Cherolyn has cheered me on and supported me through much in life – from the very days we started dating, in fact. Some 19 years later, she’s doing all of that as I make a go of this duathlon thing.

In just one year, Cherolyn’s gone from a curious cheerleader to my team leader, quite seamlessly. Pre-race, she takes on extra household responsibilities and works to get me ready. Whether it’s planning, packing, cooking or just calming me down, she steps up and treats taper week with the same reverence I do.

During races and immediately after, she takes care of many details, notes race features and quirks, and gets me to the race site and start line, then from finish line to home with all the right reminders to stretch, hydrate, re-fuel, rest, and so forth.

The long hours I train are accompanied by even more hours of sport-specific obsession, and the chef d’équipe tolerates it all. She knows when to draw the line, but also when to let me run free. Training has taken the space of a second job in our lives, and yet Cherolyn remains patient and understanding.

None of this would be possible without her.

The Soigneur:

Lisa is a local friend. We met about 15 years ago, before I moved to Ottawa. And when my wife and I moved back to Guelph in 2009, Lisa quickly became a close friend.

Lisa provides sage wisdom at key times – reminding me, when I’m doubtful, that I’ve come a long way, that I’ve got a lot to be proud of, and telling me to believe. Lisa’s one tough cookie, so her support and belief in me hold a lot of weight at those moments where I need it most.

Of equal importance, Lisa supplies “turbo muffins” in the days leading up to my races. These are simple oatmeal chocolate chip mini-muffins, but they’ve become both a staple and a superstition. Pre-race carb intake and race day breakfasts hinge on these muffins. Somehow, despite anything else she has going on at a given point in time, Lisa gets them over to my place without fail. Her poor kids might end up short on breakfast as a result — I’m never entirely clear!

When we were dealing with a sick dog and my darling Chef d’Équipe couldn’t attend my first and biggest race this year, Lisa stepped right in. Her kids and husband got up early and came along to cheer, and Lisa took on the role of stuff holder, cheerleader, stretch-nagger and chauffeur. All while trying to get me to eat. Constantly.

The Athletic Therapists:

I have never needed physiotherapy as much as I have since I started training for duathlon. The recommendation from my family doc was to go to Wellington Ortho & Rehab, where the local orthopaedic surgeons have also set up shop. In doing so, I was fortunate to land myself into the capable hands of one Susan McGregor.

Physio with Susan comes with a fair dose of sarcasm, wit, encouragement and just the right amount of tough love. She’s worked with me diligently on the injuries I originally came for, and has switched unquestioningly to the more urgent injuries that have cropped up.

Susan often tapes me up the day before a race, making it possible for me to power through an injury, and post-race, she looks for my updates. No matter how worried I might be about an injury or my lack of training, Susan is unflaggingly confident in her abilities to get me on the road – giving me an effective boost before the race.

Post-race, and sometimes pre-race, the guy down the hall gets my body back in-line with some very effective sports massage. I’ve held out for years on massage therapy, until injuries forced me to limp in for treatment with RMT Patrick Stiles this May. I’m so glad I did. An hour on my legs – or in some cases, on one leg – and I’m back on the road at full speed. Well worth the investment.

I’m spending so much time at Wellington Ortho & Rehab that I’m thinking I could just move in. Or at least get sponsored.

The Psychologist & Training Partner:

Mid-brick workout, with Carsten the ultra man.

Mid-brick workout, with Carsten the ultra man. He joined me for the run, and made it truly enjoyable, as he tends to do.

Carsten is a good friend dating back to our days in Ottawa. He’s German by birth, but now lives as a public servant in our National Capital with his own chef d’équipe, his wife Alex.

Carsten is an ultra man. Though he’ll never say so, from marathons to multi-day ultra races to Ironmans, ski loppets and snowshoe races to double and even (gulp) triple Ironmans, Carsten puts down serious mileage. And all of this with an incredibly easy-going approach. He’s self-effacing, modest, and likely the most laid-back endurance athlete I know. Last fall, after my sprint duathlon season was over, Carsten was so incredibly supportive and congratulatory that I was blushing. Only by happenstance did I learn that he had done triple-distance triathlons in his past.

I’ve done more training alongside Carsten than I have anyone else – and that isn’t even all that much. But each time we run or cycle together, despite the fact that I am most definitely holding him back for pace, he’s supportive, positive, patient, and wise. Carsten has given me invaluable support as I’ve undertaken my new’ish healthy lifestyle, weight loss, and now, duathlons. Carsten was so effusive in his pride over my racing last season that I felt like a gold medalist.

Makes me wish we lived closer. But without fail, when we visit Ottawa, the bike and running shoes come along so I can train with The Gazelle. I have a lot more to learn from this guy.

The Bike Guys:

I picked my local bike shop based on who carried Specialized bikes. Little did I know that I was choosing the friendliest shop in town.

When I went in the very first time to shop for a road bike, I was treated with respect, patience, and keen enthusiasm. A few years later, I still look forward to each trip to Paramount Bikes & Boards. Whichever of the team is in, I know we’ll cover off race results, riding tips, and other fun stuff. Each service visit results in a bike in great mechanical form. Lee and Gord’s riding tips – friendly, unsolicited as the advice is – have given me so much help along the way. And Tory’s gentle chastising has me  working to maintain my bike at a higher standard. Thanks to this team, my bike has not let me down on any ride.

There are countless other supporters and cheerleaders out there, and I appreciate you all. It’s a challenging and fun road, and it certainly is a lot less lonely with all this support.

Onward to the second half of this season, then.


2 thoughts on “Meet Team McKnapp-Advil

  1. Thank you for sharing all your inspiring thoughts, Marshal. You are a model of thoughtful preparation and passionate execution. Looking forward to many more miles of running and cycling with you!


  2. Pingback: Race Report: Guelph Lake I – 5i50 | Hard All The Way

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