Last Victoria Day long weekend, while many Canadians were camping or travelling, one of Canada’s top age group triathletes, Martin Caron, was sitting in a ditch, collecting his thoughts and brushing off the trauma of a bike crash. After a trip to the hospital, he was told he had a broken collarbone. Not one to take setbacks lying down, Caron embarked on an ambitious recovery plan that involved rest, nutrition and patience.
His plan worked exceedingly well. On June 26 he placed second in the 45 to 49 category at the Ironman 70.3 race in Couer d’Alene, Idaho. He followed that up this past weekend with a trouncing of his competitors at the Ironman 70.3 Oregon.
Caron’s winning margin of almost 20 minutes was a solid indication that his recovery was complete. Caron, who “retired” in his late 30s after selling the construction company he owned, trains as much as many pro athletes. In 2017 he finished third overall at Ironman Canada in Whistler.
TMC: What did you do over the fall and winter?
Caron: I was fortunate in that I was able to do a lot of racing and training in the USA. I did some training in Las Vegas and then jumped into a tough standard-distance race. That went well. From there I travelled to Oceanside for the 70.3. I had a PB on the run and came second in my age group. My Ironman in Arizona didn’t go as well. It was the third ride on my new bike, so maybe not the smartest move there. I had a couple of crashes, that led to a mechanical issue, and I couldn’t change my gears. I also took in too many calories during the bike and that led to me feeling pretty poor on the run.
How did you crash your bike in May?
That was an expensive mistake, all because I didn’t use a torque wrench! I live in Penticton and I was coming back from my final training ride before starting my taper for the Oliver Half. There was no warning. I realized I was crashing. The next thing I knew, I was in the ditch, but my bike was still on the road. I ran and picked it up. After going to the hospital, the X-rays revealed that I had a broken collarbone. As it turns out, my aerobars slid out of the base bar.
How did you handle your recovery?
I did research on how to speed up recovery. The sources I read said to reduce sugar, salt and alcohol. I did that, and I also took calcium and Vitamin D. After a short time, I began riding on the trainer in zone 1. Because I restricted salt and sugar, I had low energy. One of the things that concerned me was right after the crash I gained about 10 pounds, but that fell off quite quickly. Things went well and I did my first real swim on May 23, three days before the race in Idaho.
What did you learn from the whole bike crash experience?
The first thing is to check over your bike carefully every time you wash it. Having a clean bike, and one that is mechanically sound, can save you a lot of hardship.
The second thing is I found out that I must have been a ninja in a previous life because I don’t know how I only broke a collarbone in that crash. I was very fortunate with the injuries I sustained and that my bike was mostly OK.
What are some other big races you are doing this year?
I have two: both the 70.3 and Ironman world championships in the fall. Before that I am planning to do the PTO Canadian Open. I am excited about that race. I’m also doing the Ironman 70.3 Calgary.