Monday, 24 June 2013

Edm Triathlon Festival (ITU) - Oly Race Report

So I am not exactly sure why I signed up to race an Olympic distance triathlon. After all, I’d be the first person to admit that short course is not my strength.  It probably had more to do with curiosity and an opportunity to gauge my fitness, but mostly just a great calibre race near home and the opportunity to catch up with friends.

Saturday was quite uneventful. I was up early in the morning to put in a final brick (bike/run) and then drove three hours to Edm. I spent a couple hours helping Cam at Element and then headed over to Hawrelak Park for package pick-up, bike drop off, lunch, and of course the athlete mtg. Right away you could tell this would not be an ordinary “local” race. The organizing committee had clearly put a lot of work in and Hawrelak Park looked like a real race venue. I spent the remainder of the afternoon at Element with Cam, probably more getting in the way than actually helping out.

I then headed to Ian and Joanne’s in St Albert where we would be spending the night. Claudia and the kids arrived shortly after I did. They had stayed in Cold Lake for the day as Ruthie had a friend’s B-Day Party to attend. We had the privilege of meeting Greg Rouault (the winner of the Elite Men’s World Cup Race the following day) as he was billeted at Ian and Joanne’s.  He was happy to answer my billion questions (ranging from current trg regime, life as a Pro, training camps, race schedule, etc) and even discussed his race strategy for the next day.  I distinctly remember him saying something along the lines that he just needed to come out with the main swim pack, hang with the main bike pack, and he’d have a good chance of winning (after all his strength is running). And of course as my luck would have it, EP (we nicknamed our youngest – “Eye Poker” after she put me out of commission for a week earlier this year as a result of scratching my cornea) struck again. My eye was sore for the rest of the evening.

James opening his B-Day presents race morning...and in the background the speedy Greg Roualt
The following morning I awoke and contemplated not racing. My eye was sore and a little uncomfortable, but seeing as my vision seemed fine I figured I’d race. We arrived at the race venue shortly after eight which gave me just over an hour to get transition sorted out. And well my hour was a bit hectic. My disc didn’t want to cooperate and I ended up having to get help from the techs from United Cycle. Then my power meter didn’t want to wake up and when it did the calibration number was out to lunch. Oh well, time to get out of transition and just race. Hung out with friends for about 30 minutes prior to our start and then we were marshalled down to the swim start.

Ruthie and James helping me put on my Nineteen Rogue
I was happy to line-up on the swim behind Lisa Ulrich and beside James Dean. I knew I wouldn’t be catching either of their drafts. Start was very clean and it didn’t take long for the swimmers to spread out. The course was two 750m loops in Hawrelak Pond. The water was dirty but not worse than I had seen earlier this year in The Woodlands. I was happy to catch a draft for the last half of the last loop and was even happier to see 22:50 on my watch as I exited the water. I was expecting to swim slightly faster than 25:00 or 1:40/100m so that was a good bit faster (I actually think the swim was about 100m short) or perhaps the drafting helped.

Heading to transition after the swim
Out of the swim and into the long run (ok so maybe only 200m) into transition to get my helmet, shoes and bike. And of course right away my power meter didn’t want to work. I tried to repair it as I biked but it didn’t work. I knew from the times last year that I should be able to bike about 15-16minutes per lap so figured I would just forget the PM and focus on my perceived effort for my pacing. I was through the first lap in about 15:30 and I felt like I was moving through the field well. I pushed my effort a little on the second lap and then held that effort for the remaining two laps. I didn’t see James Dean on the bike, but did see Lisa Ulrich (she would go on to win the W30-34 - fast as always!) just before the Groat Road climb on lap 3. Matt Dean - M25-29 (James Dean’s youngest brother) passed me on my last lap and he was the only one to do so. My bike split was 1:01:17…just about right. A sub 1:00 would have been nice but I was happy with the result and ready to rock the run. I was a bit concerned with a 4 loop bike course as I thought it would be quite congested but it was honestly pretty good. Lap 4 was definitely the most congested but there was still lots of room to pass.
Heading out for another lap on my Argon 18 E-118

The run is 4 loops of an out and back course of ~2.5kms. I once again knew I should be running about a 35-36min 10km and well I’m pretty good at pacing the run without my 910xt. I was happy to be putting on my fluorescent yellow Brooks Pure Drifts in transition and finally doing the portion of the race that I love best…the run. I glanced at my watch a few times throughout the run and was generally holding a 3:30-3:35/km pace. I wasn’t too concerned about my pace just trying to go as hard as I could muster for 10kms. On the last lap just past the turn-around I finally caught Stephen Schreiber who is probably one of the best triathletes in Edm. At that point I figured I was near the front and pushed as hard as I could for the last kilometer and change. I was happy to be finished and definitely spent.  I was happy with my run at 35:55 but pretty confident I should be able to go a tad faster. As the results weren’t posted at the race venue, it took me almost two hours before I finally found out that I was first in the M30-34 in a time of 2:03:40. I actually had to call my mom and get her to check the online results. The run course was a little congested but the 4 loops make it very family friendly.
Running...mentally engaged
I was very happy to be first in the M30-34 and I guess that means I’m the provincial AG Olympic Champion! Ok, but honestly there are definitely a few guys in the M30-34 division in Alberta that could beat me…Stephen Hastings name comes to mind.

Stephen Schreiber (2nd M30-34) and myself on the Podium
Despite having a great race, the highlight of the day was getting to hang out with my family, catching up with friends and watching Greg win the Elite race. The race unfolded almost exactly as he had explained it to me the previous night. He came out of the water near the front of the main pack (he said the swim was his weakness…I wish I could swim like that), stayed near the middle to back of the main pack on the bike (ie. he conserved his energy), and then unleashed a race best run of 14:53 to give him about a 50m lead at the finish. Truly awesome to watch! If you are in Edm next year you owe it to yourself to come and watch the Elites race…it’s just incredible.

Greg with the fist pump as he runs up the finishing shoot!!!
A huge thanks to Ian & Joanne for once again opening their home to us. We love you guys and are so privileged to have you as friends.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Chinook Half-Ironman Distance – Calgary, AB

So I had originally put the Chinook Half-Ironman distance on my race calendar as it has been the Alberta Long Course Provincial Championships for the last few years. Given that the race sells out early I had registered early and then when the Alberta Triathlon Association released their official Championship Race Schedule I learned that Great White North(GWN) would serve as the Provincial Championships. (Note to self…harass the ATA to release the Championship schedule earlier. Releasing the schedule in the new year is not cool especially when Chinook and GWN both generally sell out quickly and in the fall). Seeing as I was registered anyways I figured I would race, but treat it more like a hard training session.

We travelled down to Calgary on Friday and paid a visit to Element in Edmonton to pick-up a few items.  We attended the athlete dinner on Friday night and I was sadly disappointed. I had heard great things about the race and figured it would be of the calibre of GWN, I was mistaken. The dinner was average at best and the athlete briefing was useless.  I really appreciated the effort put forward by the Race Director and his staff (it was evident that they really cared about this race, but this was a foretelling of the race as a whole.) To attend an athlete briefing where the RD rambles off some useless information in a haphazard manner and cannot adequately explain the course because he failed to ensure the projector and computer were working in advance is clearly not kosher.

I woke up Saturday morning just before 0500hrs and made a quick trip to McDonalds for an Egg McMuffin and a coffee. I topped off my breakfast with a banana and then grabbed my gear and walked to transition for just before 0700hrs. We stayed at the Wingate by Wyndham in Midnapore which is literally a 5-10min walk from the race start and finish - that was pretty awesome. I setup my bike and gear, got my body marked and then got set for the race.  Claudia and the kids showed up just before the race start, which was awesome.

Ok, seeing being in Alberta in June you expect the water to be cold and it didn’t disappoint. Not sure of the actual water temperature but after a quick warm-up the water felt fine. I actually think Midnapore Lake was warmer than Ghost Lake at the end of July. (Ghost Lake is the Lake that is used for Calgary 70.3) Seeing as it was a pretty small field ~150 athletes, the swim start was very calm. By the time we hit the first buoy ~350m out the field had already spread out and I was swimming on my own. Probably not ideal to be swimming the course alone, but hey it allowed me to just focus on a long stroke with a powerful pull.  I finished the first lap rounded the buoy and headed back into the water for the second 1km lap. Just like the first, the second lap was uneventful and I didn’t pass a single person nor was I passed. I exited the water and was happy to see 33:0X on my watch. This was the first time I had swam faster than 1:40/100m in a triathlon.
Heading back into the water for the second loop.
Coming out of the water on the second loop.

Removing my Nineteen Rogue

Through transition, where I put on Compressport Bike Socks, Specialized S-works Road Shoes, and my Louis Garneau Vorttice Helmet, I grabbed my trusty Argon 18 E-118 Stealth Steed and headed out on the bike. I had just started to find my groove on Highway 22X as I crossed an intersection patrolled by two police officers. The officer on my side of the road motioned that it was safe and blocked the road, however the officer on the opposing side of the road didn’t realize I was coming and let an extra couple cars through. Thankfully I was paying attention and barely avoided getting T-boned. I shook off the incident and pressed on. At around 44kms into the bike I saw the lead male, Grant Burwash (a Cdn Pro who resides in Calgary) coming back the other way. I figured I was about 10-15minutes down to him and then made sure I counted the athletes coming back. I realized I was in 5th at the turn-around with Kyle Marcotte (another Cdn Pro who resides in Calgary) in fourth probably only 4-5 minutes up the road from me. I didn’t recognize either of the guys in 2nd and 3rd

On the way back into town the Olympic distance athletes merged onto Highway 22X with us. It was a disaster. I was passing people continuously for the last 20kms and it was clear this was the mid to back of the Olympic athletes pack. Instead of riding to the right of the road, they were staying to the left. I think I called, “to your left” almost continuously that last 20kms. This was a big safety hazard in my opinion -you had athletes cycling at 40+km/hr riding up from behind on athletes doing 20-25km/hr and attempting to pass on a very narrow shoulder.  When you are closing the distance that quickly even yelling "on your left" doesn’t really help much. The remainder of the bike was uneventful with the exception of getting cut-off by an SUV as I crossed Macleod Trail…thankfully my hands just happened to be on my brakes at that instant. I was happy to be off the bike at ~2:34 and I considered that not too bad for 96km and ~860m of elevation gain. The bike was probably only slightly easier than St George.

Through transition, where I slipped on my Brooks Pure Connects (with Xentex laces compliments of Jonathan Kisiloski - I have to say I am now a Xentex fan), applied sunscreen and hit up the blue rocket. And then it was onto the run course, my favourite part of the race. I was aiming for 1:20 so about a 3:48/km pace. I started out a little faster for the first couple kilometers and then started to settle into my pace. At the first out and back I saw the 2nd place athlete, Simon Schaerz, and 3rd place athlete Jason Kincaid, and then a little later on the out and back Kyle. I rounded the out and back turn and quickly reeled in Kyle. Kyle told me that 3rd place was about 4:30 ahead. I knew 2nd place wasn’t much further because I had seen them both. I was pretty confident I had fourth in the books and thought I had a chance at reeling in 3rd and perhaps 2nd place. I finished the first loop and saw 40:13 on my watch and knew if I could hold my pace I’d be close to my goal. The kilometers clicked off quickly and thankfully the run course was well marked. I finally caught Jason at about 17kms and just hoped that he didn’t try and stay with me. I started the out and back and about 100m from the turn-around I saw Simon coming back the other way. I don’t think he knew I was coming. He started really picking up his pace. I had him down to about 100m at the start of the big hill and with about 2kms to go. He managed to open the gap a little on the hill and then I quickly started to close the gap down. As much as I tried he seemed to have more left and at the finish our delta was 9s. I was content with a 1:21 for the half-mary but the 1:20 and second place would have been nice. 
Heading out on my first loop. (#350 is doing the Olympic)
And for the awards, well I know I got 3rd Overall and 1st in the M30-39 Age group, but I have no clue what the awards are or how many dollars I get - I don't really care, it's really just a nice bonus that'll hopefully cover the race entry fee and maybe a couple extra dollars. (The total prize purse is $5600) We were told to stick around for the awards at 1300hrs which we did. Then at 1330hrs the awards started. They did most of the Olympic division awards and then stopped. When we inquired when the Half awards would be, they said later and after everyone was finished the race. They also said that they would find a way to get the awards to us if we didn’t stay. I went back later in the afternoon and helped tear down most of the finish/transition area and there was still one person out on the course and no awards. So I guess I’ll wait for a couple days and see if I get an e-mail from the RD. Least to say I was not impressed.  

Oh yah! It was a great training day and I got to meet Kyle Marcotte – a classy guy.
Post Race Picture with Kyle Marcotte

So will I be back to tackle the Chinook again...we'll see.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Road Trip 2013 in the Books!

So the 2013 Road Trip is now complete with 11,800 km of driving in the books (that 11,800 does not include driving around the cities we visited). 

The route travelled during the 2013 Road Trip...all 11,800 km of it.
The Road Trip was a very enjoyable experience with all the goals being obtained. I do not often share my goals for the season, but I thought I would make an exception. It occurred to me on the return drive from Ottawa that all my goals for the 2013 season have been accomplished. I guess it is time to set some new goals for the remainder of the season. I like to define my goals using the SMART Acronym (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound). So what were the goals?

1.  Go 9:15 at Ironman Texas – I went 9:09…check.
2.  Half-Marathon PB at CF Nationals – I went 1:13:42…check.
3.  Qualify for Ironman World Championships (@ IM Tx) and Ironman 70.3 World Championships(@ IM 70.3 St George)…check and check.  (This is not an ideal goal as you do not control who shows up to race)

As much as I like to race, by far the most enjoyable or memorable part of the trip was spending time with the family, meeting new friends, and of course touching base with old friends. I am not sure how she did it, but my wife managed to keep the kids entertained the whole time…that is pretty impressive in my books. The highlight of the trip was punching my ticket to Kona.

A rest stop to stretch the legs and enjoy a picnic.
Coming soon…the stable is now back full and my E-118 has a sister thanks to Argon 18 and Element. I will post and provide details of my new Argon 18 Gallium Pro in a few days.