Monday, 26 May 2014

CAF Running Championships!

So another edition of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Running Championships is in the books and I was thankfully able to capture the Gold Medal in the Half-Marathon. My performance on the day was nothing stellar, however the observations you make from subpar performances are often those that truly shape you as an athlete. So to be perfectly honest you never know what to expect racing a week after an Ironman. Last year I did the same thing and managed to pull off a new PB of 1:13:42 at the half-marathon. This year I was only able to run a 1:17:13 which still placed me first in the CAF, 5th in M30-34 and 9th OA (out of 12,000 runners).

Heading to the finish!

The CAF Running Championships are always a great opportunity to meet new CAF runners, catch-up with old friends, and for me it's a great oppertunity to spend some time with the family. The national sports office always does a fantastic job setting up the event and the support from the crowds in Ottawa is always so positive towards the CAF runners. This year was no exception.
The Half-Marathon and Marathon crowd at CAF Champsionships!

I started the run right at the front and quickly settled into a ~3:30/km pace with about a group of ten other athletes. The pace felt comfortable from a fitness perspective, but muscularly my legs were a wreck. I felt the deep fatigue from having raced Ironman Texas eight days ago and I realized early that this run was going to be a mental battle. My right quad was extremely stiff and even the slightest hill made the quad feel as if it was going to seize up. A small gap started to open up and I knew I wouldn't be able to continue at that pace (despite knowing that is what I held last year). I let the lead group of ~six go. I had thoughts of just pulling the plug after a couple kms, but I knew the right choice was just continue at my best effort. Throughout the race I was able to draw strength from reminding myself of Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I was also thankful for the amazing support of the crowds and as I received that support I reminded myself that the CAF had lost one of our leaders LCol Daniel Bobbitt earlier in the week following a training accident: a tragic loss for our community.

Receiving the Gold Medal from BGen Pelletier, the CAF Patron of Running!

Onwards and upwards!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Kona Bound!!! Ironman Texas Race Report 2014!

The Coutee and Maley Support Crews hanging out for a picture! (minus the ladies)
So really Ironman Texas was all about my poor race in Kona last year. I had no clue what had happened on the run and was really after a little redemption. I had originally planned to stop racing Ironman after Kona last year as I felt I was at a point in my life where I needed to spend more time with the kids. Don’t get me wrong I was still planning on racing Half-Ironmans and dabble in some short course racing.

My wife was of course gracious enough to allow me another year of racing. As we had enjoyed ourselves immensely last year in Texas we decided that we’d give Ironman Texas another go. That coupled with the fact that we had friends, Adam and Jen Coutee, living in Spring, TX. It would be Adam’s first Ironman so being here with him was also an added bonus. 

We drove (approx 3400kms) from Cold Lake, AB to Spring, TX starting on Friday and arrived shortly after lunch on Monday. I had come down with a nasty cold or something on the Friday before we had left and was not feeling great for most of the day. Regardless of that fact, I figured I would take it easy early in the week and give the body a chance for a little recovery. As the week progressed I started to feel a bit better but I couldn’t shake the cold. 

Part way through the week I realized that the race was going to be wetsuit legal. I had looked at my Nineteen Rogue while I was packing and had said to myself that there was no point packing my wetsuit as IM Texas is always a non-wetsuit swim. Well, thankfully Devashish Paul was still at home in Ottawa and he graciously offered to bring me a suit. When Dev showed up on Thursday, he gave me Brandon Marsh’s old Rocket Science Sport Wetsuit which fit perfectly. I was so extremely grateful for Dev and the other slowtwitchers who reached out to help, despite my poor planning.

Race day came quickly and I was up and ready to go by 0400hrs. Seeing as Adam was also racing, we were able to drive to the start together which allowed our wives and kids to get a little extra sleep. I checked into T1 and then headed to North Shore Park. Once there, I realized that I had forgotton to put my cut-up bonk breakers and salt tablets in my Bento Box on the bike. I knew I could get by without the Bonk Breakers (they would be provided at the aid stations), but I figured the salt tablets were probably a necessity. So thanks to the race being wetsuit legal I was able to put the items in my back pocket and then zip up my wetsuit. 

The start was frantic and I was quickly in and out of contact. I just tried to find a little open water and get into a good rhythm.  I managed to get my goggles knocked off a couple times, but felt very strong throughout the swim. The waterway to T1 is always a neat experience as the banks are lined with people cheering you on. I was happy to exit the water and see 1:05 on my watch. A swim PB of 4min is always a great way to start off the race. Ok, well I figured it was coming as I haven’t done a wetsuit IM swim since IM CdA in 2012 and thanks to my old coach, Brian Grasky, my swim had improved immensely over that period of time. 

It was onto the bike and a portion of the race that I always enjoy, well, enjoy for at least the first couple hours. I was aiming for about ~200W on the bike, but wanted to take it smart given my meltdown in Kona last year. I took it a little easy for the first 30min to an hour on the bike and watched as my average power started in the low 190s and crept up to just over 200W. As the race progressed that number only dipped slightly and for the first time in an Ironman I felt like I still had a little left at the end of the bike portion. Bike time was 4:50 and my power was 196W Avg or 198W NP. The bike was a couple minutes slower than last year, but I was satisfied with the result.

Running through North Shore Park
Onto the run and into my favourite discipline of the sport. I quickly settled into what I thought was a comfortable pace of ~4:08/km. My stomach didn’t feel great so I just took water for the first couple aid stations. Once it settled a bit then I started to work in a little Gu Energy Gel (Salted Caramel) from my flask. Just before I finished the first lap, I passed Jordan Rapp (who was one lap ahead of me). I was hoping that I could run with him, but he was clearly having a rough day on the run and I skirted past him. I was happy to go through North Shore Park again where I saw Claudia and the kids. Shortly thereafter my pace started to drop. One km I was running 4:08/km and the next I was doing my best to run 4:18/km.  Late in the second lap, Matthew Russell who had now moved into second overall place passed me on the run. (He was also a lap ahead of me). I decided to try and pick-up my pace and then was successfully able to run with Matt for a couple kilometers. The last lap was rough but I knew I just needed to stay strong.

Heading to the finish!
I was thankful to finally be at the finish and seeing 9:20 on the clock(clock was set for the Pros who had started 15min ahead of the Age Groupers) as I crossed meant I had just set a new Ironman PB of 9:05.  My run split was a respectable 3:03, which would turn out to be the fastest age group run split of the day.

As I crossed the line and tried to walk a little I was completely spent and for the first time ever in an Ironman I found myself in a wheel chair headed for the medical tent. Everyone in the medical tent was great. They checked my vitals and provided a nice cool place to lie down. I felt ok, just very weak. After a few minutes, I convinced them that I was feeling ok and I was able to get released. 
F30-34 and M30-34 Podium

It was another overall great race experience and finishing 24OA, 4th Amateur, and 2nd in M30-34 was icing on the cake. With the result, I was able to obtain a coveted Kona slot for the 3rd year in a row.

A big congratulations to my friend, Adam Coutee, who completed his first Ironman in a time of 11:25. And a huge congrats to first year Pro Matt Hanson on his 6th OA placing and his insanely fast run split of 2:41.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

IM 70.3 St George 2014 Edition Race Report

Well the first triathlon race of 2014 for me is now in the books. I competed at Ironman 70.3 St George this past Saturday where I secured a slot to the IM 70.3 WC in Mont Tremblant later this year. The race was a great kick-off to the season and I was overall happy with the result: 3rd in M30-34 with a 4:27:45. 

Claudia and I flew to Las Vegas, NV on Wednesday and then drove to St George Thursday morning. I did athlete registration and then headed to Sand Hollow State Park for a light swim and followed that up with about a 40km ride with Kellan Scheiris on the bike course. Claudia and I checked into the condo at Sports Village, did some grocery shopping, and I closed out the day with a light run.
Friday morning we headed out to the Reservoir so I could get a light swim, bike, and run in. Bike check-in wasn’t scheduled until the afternoon so unfortunately this meant an extra trip out to Sand Hollow Park in the afternoon as I prefer to get my last workouts in during the morning. After dropping my gear off at T1 and T2 in the early afternoon we had a relaxing remainder of the day at Sport Village.
Prerace picture with the Birthday Girl!
Saturday morning was an early start with a 0400hr alarm, though I was awake before that. I had a quick breakfast, coffee, bagel + jam, and a couple eggs and then we headed out to Sand Hollow State Park. This year there was parking about a mile from T1 so Claudia and I drove out to Sand Hollow and then did the short walk. This worked out perfectly as I was able to get my bike squared away early and then relax as we waited for the swim start.

The pro men started at 0655, the pro women at 0700 and then the age groups started off at 0706 with 3 minutes spacing between waves. The M30-34 age group had two waves at 0715 and 0718 and I was in the first. The swim start was the calmest I have probably ever experienced. There was lots of space and everyone quickly spread out. I swam most of the swim solo though I was fortunate to gain a good draft for most of the last leg. I was happy to see 31:50 on my watch as I exited the swim (official time was 32:06) which was a slight improvement from 32:17 from last year. 

Heading back into town!
In and Out of transition and then it was onto the bike. I felt ok early on and quickly realized I wasn’t going to hold the watts I was aiming for. I resolved to try and push the hills a little and then just ride the flatter sections monitoring my power occasionally. I am racing IM Texas in 2 weeks so was content to go more by feel then really pushing it. Snow Canyon was as always just a beast to conquer, but it’s mentally easier knowing that once you are finished that portion of the course you will be screaming downhill for pretty much the remainder of the course. I finished the bike in 2:29:56 which was about a minute slower than last year. I was hoping for closer to 2:25, but was satisfied with anything south of 2:30. My power was 211W average and 222W NP. 

Heading to the finish!
Heading into T2 and out onto the run, I had no clue of my position in the AG. The brutal run course immediately begins climbing. The only saving grace on this course is that you know what goes up must eventually come down. I completely ignored my watch and went by feel. I tried to push the hills despite my right quad threatening to seize up and then accelerated on the downhill portions. The volunteers and spectators at the aid stations were fantastic offering continual encouragement. One thing I have always enjoyed is receiving a cup of cold water/perform from a smiling kid at the aid station. It’s like you’ve just made their day. As I headed back down Diagonal Street towards the finish I saw a couple athletes a couple hundred meters ahead of me and I knew I was really going to have to push to catch them. I wasn’t sure if they were in my AG or not. Fortunately I was able to reel them both in and the last one I passed was actually in my AG. I got a stitch in my stomach shortly after the pass, but I knew I had to push the pace even more to make sure he couldn’t catch me. It hurt a lot so I quickly had a look over my shoulder and realized I had opened up a significant gap. I maintained pace to the finish and the applause of the crowd. I was content with a 1:20:49, though I think the run course was a little short. 
M30-34 and F30-34 Podium

Another race in the books and I think I have decided that St George is my favourite 70.3. 

Taking with Brent McMahon - he finished 2nd today!
Me with Trevor and Heather!
Not sure what the highlight of the day was, but it was either a great opening season race, Brent McMahon signing my finisher’s hat, or chatting it up with Trevor and Heather Wurtele – the fastest Canadian Pro Couple (talk about down to earth people). Oh wait, despite all those being great, the highlight of the day was being able to take my wife Claudia out for dinner to celebrate her Birthday!