Sunday, 13 October 2013

Frustrated in Kona - 2013 Ironman World Championships

So the line between having the race of your life and blowing up is often very fine. Unfortunately for me I flirted with that line yesterday and ended up blowing up about 8kms into the run.

After a great night's sleep I was up at 0400 for breakfast: eggs, bagel with jam, orange juice, and of course a coffee. Then we headed into town at about 0500hrs.

Body marking and weigh-in was fairly uneventful though if they are going to use tritats they either need to have more volunteers or just have people put them on themselves. After those formalities, I placed my nutrion on my bike and then did a quick once over.
Mass Start at the 2013 Ironman World Championships.

The race went off 0700 and the start was quick and a bit chaotic. This year I decided to line up further away from the pier, probably about 2/3rds of the way down. After a very clean start, I was shocked by the amount of kicking and pulling during the swim. The field spread-out after about 500m but I felt as if I was constantly surrounded and always in contact. I wondered what was different from last year and my conclusion is that my 7min faster swim probably put me in with a more competitive and thus agressive crowd. After the turn-around I saw an athlete in front of me get swum over and then you could see him trying to fight to get to the surface for air. I quickly stopped, lifted him up out of the water, ensured he was ok and then pressed on. Like I said, it was very agressive. I was very happy to be out of the water and chaos and perhaps even happier to see 1:09 on my watch. A 7min improvement from last year.

Coming out of the swim.

Then it was onto the bike. I had clearly exited the water with the masses this year and there was almost nowhere to go on the bike. The bike was very congested out to the Queen K and then back onto Huakini Hwy. It was difficult passing as everyone was very reluctant to move to the right. As soon as we were back out onto the Queen K there was ample room to settle into my rythm and start working my way up the field. For the most part people seemed to be riding legal or at least attempting to. We clearly had a wind at our back as I averaged about 40km/hr out to Hawi. The ride back into Kona was a bit of a slugfest as we were fighting strong head/cross winds. I knew that I needed to continue to push if I had any chance of getting a solid ranking in the age group. I was off the bike in 4:49 having averaged 202W and 210NP. The average was a little lower than anticipated but the NP was in the range I wanted. A 20min improvement from last year...though I am sure a lot of that had to do with the wind conditions.
Ripping it up on the Queen K.

Onto the run and I instantly knew something wasn't right. I tried to ease into the run and soon found my pace though I wasn't feeling great. Breathing wasn't comfortable, the quads were very sore, and it was an instant mental battle. I tried to walk a couple of the early aid stations to sort myself out, but I knew I was done. This was not how I wanted to end my trip to Kona. I didn't want to DNF and figured I would just enjoy the rest of the day even if it meant I had to walk the rest of the day. I convinced myself to keep running on Ali'i and once we were back into town I saw my Dad and told him it was going to be a long day. I managed to keep running through 18kms and then all I could do was walk. Marc Meunier passed me shortly thereafter and I tried running again but the legs were incredibly stiff and they felt swollen. So I continued my walk to the Energy was a long walk. I kept drinking at each aid station and working on getting some solid food (bonk breakers and pretzels). Finally at 36kms I figured I would give running a go again. By this point the legs were feeling better and so was the stomach. It was nothing quick but I wanted to get to the finish before 1800hrs and I knew walking it would be close. I was glad to see the family once back into town. Not happy with a 4:28 beside my name but such is life.
A picture is worth a thousand words! A day of disappointment.

Pretty disappointed with the day. A 10:35 is definately not what I had anticipated but the plan was to go all in and that's what I did. I had a shot at a new PB and went for it but blew up. The question will always remain did I actually blow up or did I just mentally lose the battle on the run. Could I have backed off the running pace and still posted a respectable run split? I will never know. After all it's Kona and it's known to humble even the greatest.
So some white men can jump. I figured I needed to prove Mike Reilly wrong so I jumped and hit the clock at the finish!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Tomorrow is Race Day! D-1!!!

And so it all comes down to one final sleep and then the big show begins. Today was a very relaxing day with short training durations in each of the sports. I started off the day with a light swim at the pier and of course enjoyed one final Coffees of Hawaii espresso from the Catamaran.

I followed the swim up with a light thirty minute ride on Ali'i drive and capped the brick off with a 5km run. I am feeling great so I guess we'll see what tomorrow will bring.

This afternoon I dropped my bike and gear bags off at transition and now it's the waiting game...the worst part of the whole race.
Waiting in line for bike/gear check-in.

The training is complete, the body is rested, and now it's time to see what tomorrow will bring. I could go on about what the race plan is for tomorrow, but I'll keep that in confidence until after the race.

The question is how deep can I go into the dreaded hurt locker?

I'll close the post with words of wisdom from a professional triathlete, Jordan Rapp, who is racing here again this year. "It's all over now except the suffering. Welcome to the hurt locker. Make yourself at home..."

Oh, and just before dinner this evening the support crew had a little surprise for me. They each had a custom Ironman shirt made for the race and each with a special scripture verse. My crew is the greatest! Thanks Claudia, Mom, Dad, Ruthie, James and Klara!!! I promise I'll do my best.

The greatest support crew in the world!

Welcome Banquet - D-2!

And yet another day closer to the Ironman World Championships. Today was a very light day of training (only a light swim), family time, and the welcome banquet.

I hit the water at around 0645hrs and did a quick 20min swim. The intent of the swim today was just to stay loose and feel the water. Of course no swim in Kona is complete without hitting up the Coffees of Hawaii for an espresso.
The Stealth Steed (Argon 18 E-118) ready for battle.

After the swim it was back to the resort to put some breakfast down range and then clean-up and put some final touches on my Stealth Steed the E-118. The folks at Argon 18 had given it a once over yesterday but I wanted to give it a quick wash and one final tune-up. The remainder of the morning I spent with Claudia and the kids. We played some card games and then spent a couple hours shopping down-town. (Well to be correct Claudia and Ruth did most of the shopping and James and Klara slept in the stroller).

A stop at the Compressport Booth to score some Ltd Edition Kona 2013 kit.
This evening I went with Claudia to the Athlete Welcome Banquet. We decided that after last year it wasn't really a family outing so this year my parents looked after the kids. We greatly enjoyed the company of Marc Meunier and Jennifer St. Pierre who will both also be racing on Saturday. The athlete welcome banquet was average. Food was good but the program was way too long.

Marc and Jennifer at the welcome banquet.

Claudia and I at the welcome banquet.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Testing Riding 2014 Argon 18s & the Slowtwitch Gathering - D-3

So today the reality that I am racing in the Ironman World Championships started to settled in. I am not sure how to describe the feelings, but I am a little anxious for the swim, but feel totally prepared to battle the wind and heat on the bike and then hopefully tear up the run.

My training schedule today was fairly light with only a 1.5hr brick. The rest of the day was dedicated to having a little fun and just relaxing. I punched the 1hr ride off first thing in the morning by riding in on Ali'i drive and then putting an additional fourty minutes out on the Queen K at about race intensity. There were lots of bikes out on the road this morning with everyone obviously trying to get their final tapers in.

After the bike I stopped by the Race Expo to test ride the 2014 Argon 18 E-118 and Gallium Pro. The gentelmen at the Argon 18 booth were extremely helpful and quickly had me out on the road riding the E-118. For 2014, the E-118 is exactly the same as far as I could tell with the exception of a paint scheme change. The only obviousl difference to me was the 11 Speed Dura Ace groupo vice the normal 10 speed SRAM Red that I rock on both my bikes.
The 2014 Argon 18 E-118.

After about 18-20kms of riding the E-118 I parked that ride back at the Argon 18 booth and headed out on the Gallium Pro. There are some significant changes to the Gallium Pro for 2014 and the weight is dropped by almost one lb. Much like my current Gallium Pro, the 2014 Gallium Pro was very responsive to accelerations and it climbed like a beauty. I would have loved to hammer a bit on the bike but concluded that would not be in my best interest.
The 2014 Argon 18 Gallium Pro

After the Argon 18 test rides I toured the remainder of the expo for about an hour while the Argon 18 techs did a once over on my bike to make sure it was ready for Saturday. I was very thankful to see that the Ironman Store in the Expo had the souvenir mugs back in stock. There was lots of good deals to be had but I was more interested in getting back to the Resort to finish off my brick (a thirty minute run) and then have some down time.

The one final item on the agenda for the day was the infamous gathering at the MuscleMilk and Cytomax house. It's always a good place to catch up with some old friends and meet some new ones. Oh, and the draw prizes are also pretty sweet - unfortunately I'm 0 for 2. Marc Meunier accompanied me to the gathering so it was great getting to know him a little better as well. This year I got to meet John Cobb (the R&D guru of so many things in cycling).
John Cobb and I at the gathering.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Tuesday - Parade of Nations - D-4

And yet another day comes to a close in beautiful Kailua-Kona and with each passing day the race atmosphere continues to build in Kona. The swim becomes more attended each morning and the number of athletes out training increases.

Today on the books was a swim, athlete check-in, a bike, and the Parade of Nations. The swim went off this morning without a hitch. I hit the water at about 0645hrs and did an hour of swimming focusing on a little drafting, some sighting, and some bilateral breathing. Of course no swim in Kona would be complete without hitting up the Coffees of Hawaii Catamaran for an espresso. It's a nice break during the swim workout and it's amazing how great the coffee tastes after you get salt in your mouth.

After the morning swim I hung around downtown until athlete check-in was open. The swag from this year's race - another backpack (at least this one is unique), a Specialized Purist Waterbottle, a pair of TYR Spec Ops Goggles, and a bunch of product samples. I then hit-up the Ironman merchandise tent where I was hoping to snag my usual souvenir, a race mug. Unfortunately, they were already sold out so I had to settle for a towel and a glass. I bumped into a few of the Pros this morning including Dirk Bockel and Faris Al-Sultan.

Faris was kind enough to spare a few minutes of his time for a picture!
Following the downtown adventures, I headed back to Kona Coast Resort to pick-up the rest of the gang and we then headed out to Hapuna Beach so I could do an out and back bike ride to Hawi. On the way out we ran into a friend, Ivan O'Gorman (he works for RETUL) who was running on the Queen K. It's always great catching up with friends from past races.
Getting ready to head out to Hawi from Hapuna Beach.

The family enjoyed Hapuna Beach while I proceeded out to Hawi. The wind really picked up the closer I got to Hawi and then it poured rain. The rain made the ride a lot cooler but the wind was a bit of a beast. However, my efforts were rewarded and on the way back down from Hawi I had a wicked tail wind and a bit of a gusting crosswind...the reward - spinning out my 54-11 for a good portion of the descent. I managed to score a quick dip in the ocean at the beach and then it was back to the resort to change and then off to the Parade of Nations.
Klara was amused with Ruthie being buried up to her waist.

The Parade of Nations is a nice touch during race week. Essentially each nation's athletes and family members (if they want) get to march down Ali'i drive representing their country. It's an oppertunity to meet your fellow countrymen/countrywomen who will be competing while showcasing your country pride. This year we came prepared and the kids, nana, grandpa and Claudia joined in for the walk.
The Maley Clan getting ready to walk down Ali'i Drive.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Monday - a family day: D-5

A good crowd was out for the morning swim. The Coffees of Hawaii Catamaran is pictured just off center.
So today was scheduled as an off day. I elected to go for a light swim this morning to just enjoy swimming in the Pacific Ocean. There were a few tents down by the swim start. The Powerbar gear check was open for the first day this morning. They give you a bag for your keys and clothes write your bag number on the back of your hand and you give them back your bag. The volunteers look after your gear while you swim. Additionally this morning Bonk Breaker and the Chocolate milk company were set up for post swim refreshments. As an added treat the Coffees of Hawaii Catamaran was out this morning, so on top of 1200m swim I got to enjoy a complimentary espresso. It was a nice way to start off the day.

After the light swim, I walked around downtown to check out the happenings and then stopped into Rudy Project to pick-up my new Wingspan and Rydon sunglasses. Rudy Project had a great deal on for Kona participants this year and for a small amount of change you got a helmet and sunglasses. The only catch is you have to wear said helmet and sunglasses for the race. Debating between my options but I might choose to wear my Rudy Project Hypermask glasses instead of the Rydons. So much like last year, I think Rudy Project is going to win the Kona helmet count by a landslide.
My new Rudy Project Wingspan and Rydon glasses.
 The rest of the day I spent with the family at the Kona Coast Resort. I took the kids to the pool in the morning with mom and dad while Claudia went for a run. It was a nice relaxing afternoon and evening.

Klara, Ruth, and James enjoying the kids pool.

Scheduled for tomorrow is a morning swim, registration, an out and back ride from Hapuna Beach to Hawi, and then the Parade of Nations. It should be an exciting day.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

A Day of Trg - D-6

So today was a very relaxing day with an intended objective of going to church with the family, an hour swim at Dig Me (the Ironman course), and finally a 3hr brick (2hr bike followed by an hour run).

I checked the swim off the list first thing in the morning. The water was crystal clear, relatively smooth, and except for a strong current it was perfect for swimming. When training for a race it's great to try and swim the course at the approximate time of the race. It allows you to get used to sighting at that time of day and it also allows you to observe the sun position. The swim back to shore was slow compliments of having to fight the current. Otherwise, the swim was uneventful and I was happy to be back on shore after a 3.1km swim. The best part about the swim is being able to see all the beautiful scenery as you swim.

Then it was back to the Kona Coast Resort for breakfast and then I went with the family to Kona Baptist Church. We had attended this church twice last year and really enjoyed the atmosphere as well as the biblically based sermon. So it was the obvious choice again this year. Objective number two complete.

Marc and I following the run.
After lunch I headed out for the brick with Marc Meunier. Though Marc and I had never met before, he has been swimming with the morning group at STARRT (St Albert Road Runners and Triathlon Club) that I had previously swam with when we lived in St Albert. So we know all the same people but we had never actually met. Seeing as we have similar strengths - good bike strength, and above average running skills - I was excited to be able to put a few kilometers in with Marc. (I don't think I will attempt to swim with Marc as he would most assuredly kick my butt). We did just over 70kms on the bike up Ali'i and then out on the Queen Q and then followed that up with 11kms of running on Ali'i. It was greatly appreciated having someone pushing a strong pace on the run.  Third objective in the books for the day (though the run was a bit shorter than the hour).

Up tomorrow: picking up my Rudy Project Helmet/Sunglasses and then spending the day with the family and perhaps a light swim.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

All Settled in Kona - D-7...!

So we (the family and my parents) arrived at the Kona Coast Resort shortly after midnight and checked into our two bedroom villa. We had driven down to Edmonton yesterday morning/afternoon, taken WestJet from Edmonton to Vancouver where we met up with my parents. We then travelled together from Vancouver to Kailua-Kona on WestJet. The plan is to be in Kona for two weeks this year so that we have some down time as a family after the race. I’ll do my best to post a daily blog like last year through to race day.
The ladies and kids enjoying dinner in Vancouver airport.
This morning everyone woke-up remarkably early considering that most hadn’t snoozed much on the airplane. I guess that’s expected considered we moved a few more time zones (4 for us, and 6 for my parents) west. All things considered everyone was in a good mood this morning. We took the opportunity to go out for breakfast and we elected to try out Bongo Ben’s Island CafĂ© (on Ali’i Drive facing out towards the swim start).  The service was good and the food was great. Everyone enjoyed their breakfast and we also managed to watch part of the Ho’Ala Swim – this year they had the swim course setup on the Saturday before and people could race the swim course as a practice. I had contemplated signing up but given the fact we were getting in so late I decided against it. 

The Maley clan enjoying breakfast at Bongo Ben's Island Cafe.
The rest of the morning we went grocery shopping to stock the pantry and then I managed to sneak in a 50min shake-out run before lunch. It was both hot and humid. What was supposed to be a shake-out run turned into a 12km Ironman race pace run. Clearly, the legs were fired up and ready to run and the effort felt easy. 

After lunch, I managed to catch-up on some sleep. I closed off the afternoon with a light shake-out swim. My swimming has been non-existent in the last few weeks as the pool in Cold Lake is closed and the lake is a bit too chilly at this time of the year. Despite my lack of swimming, the shake-out felt good though the water was choppy and I had to fight a strong current heading back into shore. The swim in the 5-10ft water was very scenic as most of the area was reef. It brought back lots of memories of snorkelling on Papua New Guinea as a kid growing up.
Klara and James enjoyed the water while I swam.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Reflections on the Army Run

The Army Run in Ottawa is probably the fastest growing race in Canada. This year there were 22,000 participants between the 5km and Half-Marathon.  It was an opportunity to represent the Canadian Armed Forces, visit family in Ottawa, and connect with friends.  It’s a great race as Canada comes out in force to support the Cdn Army but really the Cdn Armed Forces in general.

I was coming off a solid week and change of building for Kona with 570kms of biking put in over the last week and a bit. I knew I was not in top running shape coming into the race. I have been fighting a chest cold for about four weeks so I knew a PB was most definitely not in the cards for the day.  The chest cold coupled with some serious bike mileage was sure to have wrecked some havoc to my body.

Today's Support Crew: Pre-race with Dad, Mom, and my oldest sister Kelly
I flew into Ottawa on Friday and then did race package pick-up on Saturday morning. I expected there to be at least a little line-up but there were none. Great! The expo was well not much of an expo at all. It was actually quite disappointing when you compare it to the expo at the Ottawa Race Weekend. 

Sunday morning I was up early for breakfast and then retired for another hour. Dad, Mom, Kelly, and I headed downtown at 0730hrs (for a 0900hrs start time) and were shocked by the number of 5km participants still getting downtown (the 5km race started at 0800hrs). I lined up in the blue coral right at the front. I wanted to get out front fast and then quickly settle into a pace. My rationale for getting out front was to get away from any crowds, test the legs and lungs, and then settle into my own race. When the Howitzer went off it was a bolt out of the starting line up Elgin and onto Wellington St. As soon as I was up and onto Wellington street I backed off the pace and started settling into my pace. It took me about 2kms to settle in a bit and let a few of the faster runners pass.  Normally I would attack and try and go with them but I knew today was not that day.

Me leading the charge off the line. The lead lasted for all of maybe 500m before Dave and Nick went flying by!
My right quad had been really tight on Saturday’s interval run (2 x 3kms at HMP) so I was anxious to see if that would start to tighten up. And of course that is exactly what started to happen…it would continue to tighten up even more as the kms ticked by. I felt a little restricted in my breathing, the legs felt fatigued, and the right quad tight, so I knew it was going to be a bit of a battle to stay engaged. I enjoyed passing the “Soldier On” personnel and passing along my words of encouragement. It’s great to see our injured soldiers (“Soldier On”) out and physically battling through their injuries. I just felt fortunate that I could run and share such a great experience with these amazing folks. One individual in particular deserves recognition and that’s MCpl Chris Downey.  The Ottawa citizen did up a great article the other day on Chris. As if the battles Chris has gone through are not enough Chris elected to run the ½ Marathon on Sunday while dragging a tire with him. This is one tough guy. 

So who really cares about my race. This race was not about me, but rather the fine folks that serve our country on a daily basis. I am just privileged to serve alongside many of them. I stayed pretty consistent for pace for the majority of the race and was thankful that Jason Dunkerley (a visually impaired athlete )  and his guide passed me at around the 10km mark. I paced off him for the next 7km and then finally closed the gap and opened my own in the last few kilometers of the race. I was pretty spent after the race. Legs are even more sore and tired now. Happy to have put a 1:18:15 in the books but it’s always a bit of a hard pill to swallow knowing that you didn’t do as well as you could have. I just have to keep reminding myself that this was a “fun” race. A good tempo run with 10,000 of my friends. The focus is Kona.   
Post Race with Jason and his guide. Congrats to Jason on a fantastic first 1/2 Marthon Race.

Not bad for a training race. 12th Overall and 1st in the M30-34.

Big Congrats to Dave Lacombe and Alex Boule on their 2nd and 3rd place overall finishes in the race. Two first class CAF athletes.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

IM 70.3 World Championship Race Report

Sometimes it’s just not your day. I’ll be the first to admit that the focus of the season was never Las Vegas. Kona was and still remains the focus. The purpose of racing the IM 70.3 WC was simply as a tune-up race in preparation for Kona. But, who doesn’t want to show up to a World Championship and do well? So I probably came in with higher expectations than I should have. I’m much better at the Ironman distance compared to the 70.3 distance or at least that is my opinion. So enough about my ramblings, here is what happened.

Claudia and I flew into Las Vegas on Thursday night (well it was actually Friday morning thanks to a  ~2hr delay in Vancouver…there was lightning within the vicinity of the airport so the ground crew couldn’t operate).  I did athlete check-in Friday morning and then we spent a couple hours in the afternoon at Lake Mead National Park. We both went for a swim and then I attempted to bike. After about 15 minutes of riding and a second flat on my disc, that was the end of my workout. A generous couple from Argentina graciously drove me back to the swim area. Friday night we attended the athlete welcome dinner. The food was great, the entertainment very good, but the speeches part was long, boring and not very informative.

Saturday morning we headed out to Lake Las Vegas for the practice swim and then I did a bike and short run. We spent the morning back at Grandview and then headed out in the afternoon to do bike and gear check-in.

Race morning started early. I was up at 0330hrs for breakfast (Panera bagel, a couple eggs, coffee, and a glass of orange juice). We headed to Lake Las Vegas for the race start and quickly realized it was going to be a very wet affair. 

The race started at 0630 (Pro Men) and my wave was the 8th wave at 0704hrs. I haven’t managed to get a lot of swimming in these last couple weeks so I wasn’t quite sure how that would work out. With 188 men in the M30-34 wave, I thought the start might be a little congested, but it actually spread out very nicely though I was in and out of contact for most of the swim. What didn’t help matters is we started to pass athletes from earlier waves. Overall not a bad non-wetsuit swim at 33:44 but it’d be nice to get that down to 30 or less.

On to the bike. Well, first through transition, which was effectively a mud pit thanks to all the rain. The ramp up and out of transition was congested… surely they could have made it wider. I was happy to be on the bike and starting to put out solid power numbers when suddenly I had no power and a clicking noise from my chain. I ignored the power and tried to figure out what was happening. After a couple minutes I stopped and thankfully it was only the magnet for my power meter. It was attached to the chain and the rear derailleur. I pulled it off and voila the noise disappeared. Ok, so no power or cadence for the ride…great. Actually I wasn’t too worried. I figured I would ride at a moderate intensity (or what I thought my HIM intensity is) for the first half and then pick it up for second half. The roads were wet and it continued to rain, but thankfully due to the warm weather the wet ride was not cold. (Clearly, I wasn’t in Canada – when it rains at a triathlon in Canada you freeze.) Nothing too exciting happened on the bike and I was able to pick the pace up after about 20miles though it probably dropped off for the last 5-6miles. I was happy to be off the bike in 2:36:40, but a little disappointed. I was expecting a time split closer to 2:30 as the elevation gain was similar to St George. 

On the Run (photo credit: Martin Lacasse)
And then the run. The run course is a 3 loop course and essentially you are either going up or going down – there isn’t anything flat about it. Going in I figured I should be able to run a low 1:2X. Coming off the bike I felt pretty good and the legs felt strong. However, I felt flat. The first couple kilometers are downhill and felt very easy. However, as soon as I started the uphill portion of the first loop I realized it was going to be tough. To race well I think you really need to be mentally engaged and be able to push yourself into the hurt locker – you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. I was just mentally not there today. I tried, and despite the best encouragement from my wife I couldn’t run like I normally do. A 1:26:04 on this run course is not bad, but clearly not at my normal standard.

I was a bit disappointed with a 4:43:57, though this is a tough course and in my opinion definitely harder than St George. I was hoping to finish in a similar time to St George (just below 4:30) but that was clearly not in the cards. I was 47/188 in the M30-34 and 241 overall (out of ~2100 athletes including professionals).