Monday, 28 July 2014

Calgary 70.3 Race Report - 2014 Edition

Well seeing as I have been lazy the last couple months and missed blogging about the 4 Wg Community Run in May (I won the half-marathon), missed the 5150 in Saskatoon due to the move, and missed blogging about the Cdn Armed Forces Triathlon Championships in July (I finished 6th in the military and 8th overall) I figured it was time to get off my butt and do some writing.

So Calgary 70.3 was a no pressure race for me. It was an opportunity to just get out and enjoy racing. I had thrown it into the schedule to ensure I had two shots at qualifying for the 2014 70.3 World Championships in Mont Tremblant, QC. Seeing as I had already obtained my slot earlier in the year at St George 70.3, the Calgary race was essentially just an opportunity to test my fitness without any specific prep. Everything at this point of the year is focused on having a good race in Mt Tremblant and an even better race in Kona.

So the Calgary 70.3 has undergone a few significant changes since the last time I did it. Compliments of the floods in 2013, the swim venue moved into the city, with the most recent edition being held at Auburn Bay (South-East Calgary). As a result, the bike course is also significantly changed and now uses a good portion of the Chinook Course heading out of town on H22X and now returns to Glenmoore Reservoir on H8. For all intents of purposes it is a hard 40-50km out of town (compliments of a few good climbs and the wind) and then a blazing fast bike back into town. The run course however has remained unchanged.

I really had no expectations going into the race. I had reviewed the results from last year and was pretty confident that I should be below 4:20 and perhaps as fast as 4:10 if everything was perfect (it never is). I was counting on a ~32min swim, ~2:20-30 bike, and a ~1:20-25 run.
Pre-race with Mark Telang

Race morning was a breeze. I woke at 04:05 to the sound of James (my son) falling out of the hotel bed. Thankfully he was no worse for wear and fell back asleep. I had set the alarm for 04:15 so figured there was no point going back to sleep (unfortunately despite going to bed at 2100hrs I had tossed and turned till well after midnight). Despite the limited sleep I felt great. I had a coffee, two packets of oatmeal, and a banana. We headed down to Auburn Bay at around 0515hrs and arrived there shortly before 0545hrs. There was lots of parking available in the community which made walking to transition a breeze. I setup my bike and then started the mental prep. Said hi to a few other athletes I knew and then had time for a quick chat with Mark Telang. We had met Mark and Kristin Telang while we were down in Texas staying with Adam and Jen Coutee.
The Swim was rather uneventful except for the last minute instructions which had everyone in a bit of confusion. Due to the small size of Auburn Lake, the course was a bit odd and the last buoy you turned at to head back to shore was the first buoy you sighted off at the start. Anyways, the start was relatively clean and after a couple hard hundred meters the field quickly spread out. I just focused on swimming a straight line and a strong pull. I jumped on a set of feet here and there but for the most part I didn’t like the pace and just forged on myself. I was shocked to see 29:54 on my watch as I excited the swim. I figured at first the swim must have been short but after the race I checked my Garmin 910xt and it read as 1.92km (so close enough). I think I just needed a kick in the butt and the STARRT morning swim group has given me just that since moving back from Cold Lake.

Through transition and onto the bike without any issues. I was almost instantly surprised that I wasn’t freezing on the bike. It was chilly but definitely manageable in a wet trisuit. My quads were sore from the onset and it’s something I have been noticing the last couple races. I just feel flat on the bike after the swim and struggle to push wattage that I can normally hold with ease. Rather than fight it I just accepted the effort I could apply and rolled with it. The out portion of the bike was quite tough but the return portion was very rewarding. I was happy with 2:18:42 on the bike and excited to start the run. Power on the bike was 213W avg or 218W NP. (To put things in perspective my power at St George 70.3 was 211W avg and 222W NP)
Heading out on the Run!
I made a quick porta potty stop as I excited transition and then I was off and running. The opening km was way too fast and by the third km I had my pace in check. I find the Calgary course a bit of a mental challenge as it’s relatively flat but has a couple nasty climbs which really inflict the quads with pain. I watched my pace for the opening five kilometers and then went by feel for the remainder. The middle seven kilometers were a bit of an oblivion and I struggled to keep myself mentally engaged. Once I climbed the big hill for the last 5ish kms I was able to reengage and push the pace to the finish. I managed to catch 3rd in the M30-34 but just missed catching the 2nd place by 5 seconds. Run 1:22:26. One of these days I’ll hopefully break 1:20 on the run.

Overall I was happy with the race and very ecstatic with a new HIM PB of 4:16:00. I was 19th OA (20th OA including team), top ten amateur, and 3rd in M30-30. I was perhaps the most satisfied to have broken 30min for the 1.9km swim.
Post-race treat with Ruth and James!

I gotta say this was a great race, well organized, well executed, and overall an amazing atmosphere. The volunteers and the RCMP/Calgary Police/ and other police services were outstanding in their contributions to ensuring a safe race.

And of course no trip to Calgary would be complete without a trip to the zoo!
The kidos hanging out at the zoo!