Monday, 24 September 2012

LeadmanTri Bend 125 – An “Epic” Race Report

 So my season plan was altered with my unfortunate results from the Calgary 70.3. I had planned on using the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas as my final tune-up before Kona however I didn’t get a qualifying spot from Calgary…as a result of my tire issue. So instead I signed up for the Leadman Tri Epic 125 in Bend, Oregon. I had done the Leadman Epic 125 in Las Vegas earlier in the year and was thoroughly impressed with the event. Seeing as the military rate for the Bend race was $0 I figured it was a steal. My wife being the amazingly supportive wife she is gave me the green light to race!

On Thursday, 20 Sep 12, I travelled to Bend, OR. I opted to fly to Portland and then drive a rental car to Bend instead of driving the 18-20hrs from Cold Lake. I knew it would be a long trip either way but this method afforded me to the opportunity to race on Saturday, attend the post race awards on Sunday morning,  and still make it home for work on Monday (I'll admit I didn't get home until after 0200hrs). The travel to Bend was thankfully uneventful. I started the day at 0730hrs from home and was checked into the Super 8 in Bend shortly after 2200hrs that night. 

Friday morning I did my final prerace brick(bike then run) of approximately 1hr duration. I completed package pick-up, which was a mere 5minutes…unbelievable! Checkout the free swag…a jersey, long sleeve tech tee, visor, a lanyard, and a light bag.

I then made the drive out to Cultus Lake to complete a light swim with several accels and then check my bike and T1 bag into transition. I enjoyed my light swim in the beautiful Cultus Lake. The scenery was amazing, the water temperature was perfect and almost crystal clear. Then it was back into town to T2 to drop off my T2 bag and attend the prerace athlete briefing.

Race morning came quickly, but thankfully I had a great sleep. I woke at 0400hrs and had my usual prerace meal : coffee, oatmeal, and a banana. I headed out the door shortly before five and then grabbed the bus to Cultus Lake. What should have been an hour drive turned into an hour and a half. The bus drivers were not from the local area and somehow managed to take the extra long way to the race start…subsequently the 250 race was delayed in starting. I checked over my bike dropped off my nutrition and got set for the race start at 0800hrs. 

I swam out to the first buoy as my warm-up and then awaited the start. It was a small field of a couple hundred athletes spread out among 4 waves so the swim start was quite tame. I was in the first wave and quickly found a pair of feet to sit on for the first couple hundred meters and then decided to up the pace. I settled into a good rhythm and then just tried my best to focus on a long stroke with a strong pull. The swim went by rather quickly and I was surprised to see 32:XX on my watch as I excited to the swim. I figured the course must have been really short or something (Aside: Swim was supposed to be 2.5km my Garmin 910xt had the course as 2kms).

T1 was quite slow as I took the opportunity to put on a dry top, arm warmers, and socks. Seeing as the temperature was about 8C I did not want to freeze in the first hour. I was very thankful for the warm clothes, but my legs definitely did not appreciate the soaking wet and cold Compressport Calf Sleeves and Tri shorts. (Aside - if you are looking for a sweet pair of tri shorts you should be seriously considering these) The first hour on the bike I tried to force myself into a strong pace, generate some heat, and settle into my nutrition plan. My legs felt great while my hands were freezing (I wish I had stuffed my light gloves into my T1 bag at this point).  By the time I started the climb up Mount Bachelor I was feeling great so tried to up my power output knowing that the last 30kms of the race was mostly free speed.  The descent down the backside of Bachelor was fast, wicked fast. I had a top speed of 75km/hr. (If you think that is crazy fast…think again! Jordan Rapp the Male Pro who won the race had a top speed of 60mph ~96km/hr).  As I weaved into town and towards transition my quads started to tighten up. I backed off the pace and eased into transition hoping the legs would loosen once I started to run. (Bike 106.5km – 2:56:xx)

As I ran through transition I quickly counted 4 or 5 bikes already there. So I figured I was near the front of the race, but likewise knew there were fast athletes in the later waves probably chasing me down. I knew the run was only 16.5kms so I figured I would just run by feel. The legs were definitely a little sore and stiff as I slipped on my new Brooks Pure Connects (yes the new Blue ones Brian at Brainsport had sent me - they are now broken in for Kona!). I was out of transition rather quickly and settled into a strong pace on the run. The run was a mixture of trail and road with a few short steep hills and one rather long climb. I just kept pushing my pace, but despite my best efforts I saw no other athletes. It was a very scenic run with awesome volunteers at the aid stations. I made the final turn over the bridge and through the finishing shoot…5th Overall. (Run more like 15.5kms - 1:02:xx)

After it was all said and done I remained in fifth place overall and first in the M25-29 division with a  time of 4:37:15. (I was actually the 2nd athlete in M25-29 but the top athlete was 3rd Overall so didn’t get counted in the division). This race was a tune-up and I was very happy with the results. I had an excellent swim for me, a very strong bike, and a solid run (the fastest run of the day).

The Leadman Bend race put on by the folks at LifeTime Fitness was truly an Epic race. A special thanks to Dominic Guinto for his superb work as the race director! You can be sure that I’ll be trying to squeeze the Tempe and Bend races into my schedule for next year. 

Next up...Kona! I can’t wait!
Jordan Rapp - aka Rapstar coming down the finishing shoot to take the win at the Leadman Epic 250 Bend!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Screaming Legs - Edmonton 21 Race Report

So earlier this week I realized that there was a half-marathon taking place in Edmonton this weekend – the Edmonton 21 put on by Multisports Canada. I wasn’t planning on racing but seeing as I was going to be in Edmonton that morning it seemed like an ideal training opportunity. Brian, my coach, gave me the go ahead to race on Friday. Unfortunately, race registration or at least online had closed on Thursday night. I e-mailed Trevor Soll, Multisports Canada director, and he got me in. Thanks Trevor!

I woke up at 0600hrs had my usual race breakfast of oatmeal, a banana, and a coffee. I would have liked a bagel as well unfortunately I didn’t have a toaster. I drove to the race site at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park arriving shortly before 0730hrs. I did my package pick-up and then spend the next half-hour or say staying warm in the car. I met up with Andrew Han from Cold Lake - a fellow member of the Cold Lake Rum Runners. I did a warm-up then headed to the registration area to hear the race brief. At this point I met up with A.J. Rankel (A stellar runner from Edm – his team had won the Death Race) and Chris Stone (another superb runner – he won this race last year).

The race started shortly after 0900hrs. I expected Chris and A.J. to go out fairly hard however I found myself out front all by myself. So I just started pushing the pace expecting at some point that A.J. and Chris would bridge the gap. The race director had a mountain bike lead us around the course. I thought it was pretty cool being the lead runner and having a personal escort. Once we crossed the river and onto the trail section with the climb I dropped the mountain bike. It’s a pretty steep section of trail with loose gravel so I wasn’t surprised the girl riding the bike was struggling. The climb up the hill was pretty brutal on the quads and mine were literally screaming at me by the time I reached the top – I think the Compressport QuadSleeves really help reduce the fatigue. Once on top I settled back into my pace making sure that it was uncomfortable. The descent was a welcome relief. We then crossed through Hawrelak Park and then back over the bridge into Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park. 

I pushed a Mint Chocolate Gu gel down range just as I crossed where we had started earlier. On the out and back section I had my first glimpse of my lead. A.J. and Chris were about 200 meters back. I realized then that Chris and A.J. were running together. I didn’t know if they were planning to do that for the whole race, but suspected at some point that Chris would take off. So I mentally knew that I had to keep trying to push the pace. The second time up the climb was even more painful than the first. My legs were screaming at me to slow down, but I knew that Chris and A.J. were probably not too far behind. So I kept pushing my screaming legs out of my head and focused on my turnover. I knew that as long as I kept pushing I could hold the lead. 

At the out and back, approximately 1km from the finish I saw Chris. He was only about 50-100m back of me. A.J. was probably another 300m back. I knew then it was time to really start pushing. I ran as strong and fast as I could and as soon as I saw the sign for the finish I sprinted. 1:19:46. Not the fastest race but I’ll take it! I believe if my memory serves correct that this was my first Overall Win…actually I think I chalked up a win last year in the Stan. So first overall win in Canada!

Congrats to Chris and A.J. on their results. You guys really forced me to push. Best of luck to Chris as he takes on the Chicago Marathon. And of course congrats to Andrew on obtaining his goal of finishing the race strong despite limited training!

Great to see Liz Nichol – STARRT Spin Club member volunteering at the race. Thanks for the support! And of course a big thanks to the race director Coleen Majeau!

Now it’s family time for a few days before I head to Bend, Oregon!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Battle Scars from San Diego

Cool Awards from the Race!
So seeing as I was going to be in San Diego from 9-15 Sep for a Aircraft Structures Course I figured I would take the opportunity to do some racing. I had planned to race the San Diego Classic – Olympic Distance on the 8th and the Tri San Diego – Intermediate (Olympic distance with ~33km bike) on the 9th. I of course wasn’t planning on tapering or anything of that sort for the race but was intending to use the two racing more as training days with some intensity.

I flew into San Diego on Thursday the 6th of Sep and checked into the Marriott in Mission Valley. I was excited to be in a warmer climate and excited at the opportunity to do some racing. Friday morning I hit up De Anza Cove (in Mission Bay Park) for a light swim then followed that up with a ride around Fiesta Island and finally finished off with a quick run to make sure the legs were firing. I had been feeling sick for most of the week with a stomach bug and honestly didn’t feel too great. I was however very thankful for the opportunity to cycle around Fiesta Island as the scenery was awesome and all I could think about was how much Ruthie and James would have loved playing in the sand and water. Remainder of the day was spent picking up my race package at Moment Cycle and then relaxing in the hotel.

Saturday morning was an early start. I was up by 4 a.m. and out the door and onto the Trolley at just before 5a.m. I cycled from the Old Town Station to the Transition Area (~3kms) and quickly setup my stuff. For the first time going into the race I didn’t really feel nervous after all I was really just here to enjoy the experience and get a solid workout in. 

My wave was one of the last to depart and at 0630hrs the horn went and we were off. I settled into a good rhythm and tried to focus on a good pull, a long stroke, and swimming a straight line. The swim was very uneventful with the exception of passing many people in the earlier waves. I was quite pleased to see 25:07 on my watch as I scrambled up the stairs at the end of the finish…a superb swim for me.

Transition was uneventful and then it as off onto the bike. We were unable to pre-ride the course as it went through the Naval base however we had been warned that there were a couple speed bumps near the base. I was putting out a solid effort until disaster struck. As I was passing by the main gate at the base the gentleman to my right began slowing down I wasn’t sure what he was doing and then scanned ahead and quickly saw a massive speed bump. I handled the bump fine but my aero water bottle went flying. I wasn’t concerned with the loss, but was momentarily distracted as I hit the second speed bump at a slight angle and down I went. It was a hard fall onto my left side with my head, back, butt, and wrist absorbing most of the fall. I quickly got up scanned over my bike realized it was fine. A volunteer came running up with my aero bottle handed it to me and I took off again. I probably only lost a couple minutes throughout the ordeal. I was sore but tried to push the discomfort out of my mind and finish the race strong. The remainder of the bike was uneventful, but I do have to comment that climbing the “Hill” was definitely fun! Bike 1:06:XX. 

Note: The bike wipe-out was my fault. However, it would have been nice for there to be some caution signs or volunteers yelling to slow down.

Through T2 with minimal effort and then it was onto the run. I decided to ignore my watch and just run by feel. I went perhaps a little conservative on the first loop and then tried to push more on the second loop. My left hip was a little sore, but I can’t say that it really affect my run. I finished with 39:52. A lot slower then I would have liked but content to still have run sub forty minutes. 

Total Time 2:14:59. 14th OA (out of 700+ athletes) and 5th in my AG.

Had an opportunity to meet Kosuke Amana, an Elite athlete coached by Brian Grasky, post race. He had put a solid race in and finished in 3rd. I hung around the finish until the awards getting to know Casey Mckinney, a US Marine. That’s probably the part about racing I like the most…getting to know fellow athletes after the race.

Battle Scars taken on Sunday Afternoon!
 I was planning on racing the Tri Rock Intermediate on the Sunday. I had picked-up my race package and applied my TriTats in preparation for racing. However, when I woke up Sunday morning my shoulder was very sore, I had limited mobility and realized that swimming was probably not an option. Additionally my left butt check was swollen making even waking a bit painful and my wrist well it was still swollen. So I made the tough call that I wasn’t going to race the Tri Rock San Diego. I really really wanted to race, but sometimes you’ve got to make the right call. Instead I took the trolley to the start area turned in my racing chip and picked up a volunteer shirt. I figured if I can’t race then I’ll give back. So I spent the morning with Frank’s crew directing bike traffic at the U-Turn onto Harbor Boulevard and finished the morning by handing out water in the finishing area. 

Hopefully my injuries heal quickly as I want to enjoy the beautiful weather here in San Diego.

Up next…Leadman Tri Bend 125 in two weeks!