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).