Monday, 27 July 2015

Ironman 70.3 Calgary Race Report 2015 Edition

Swag from Ironman 70.3 Calgary - Finisher's Buckle + M30-34 1st Place Award

Weekend started out with some very sad news on Friday night. A seven year old, Caleb, drowned Friday night at Auburn Bay (swim site of Ironman 70.3 Calgary). This led into the big question on Saturday being would the race continue, which turned into yes, which turned into Ironman 70.3 Calgary honouring Caleb on Sunday morning prior to the race start. 

My heart goes out to the parents of Caleb. I cannot even fathom the grief they must be going through. It was a reminder to cherish the time I have with my children as I do not know the plans the Lord has in store for them.

Claudia and I headed down to Calgary on Friday afternoon with the kids and met up with my parents at the Best Western Downtown. My parents had flown into Calgary and were in town to see us prior to driving a car back to Ottawa for Juniper Farms (Jill Henselwoods Stable). It was great having them around for the weekend as it makes the logistics of the race easier for Claudia.
Sunday morning came quite quickly and I was awake prior to my alarm going off at 0415hrs. Despite tossing and turning for a small portion of the night (and another edition of James falling out of bed) I felt quite rested. I had a quick breakfast and then headed out the door at 0510hrs with my Dad. We arrived at Auburn Bay at ~0540hrs and easily found a parking spot a couple minute walk from the race venue.  I setup my transition area and started putting on my wetsuit when Mom, Claudia, and the kids showed up.

Swim Start (photo credit - Ironman 70.3 Calgary)
The pro-men started at 0645, the pro-women at 0646, the relay teams at 0647, and then my wave (M30-44) was off at 0650. The first section of the swim course was great and I quickly settled into a good solid effort. The swim course last year was off; well, this year was even worse. On the return section of the course they had you do another out and back section which no one was really expecting. Least to say it turned into a complete mess - swim times were 5+ minutes slower than last year. Last year I had the course measured at 1920m while this year I had the course measured at 2281m. Granted the Garmin 910xt isn’t the most accurate but it tends to be consistent. The 350m+ of additional swimming clearly explained my sub-par 35:51 swim – 6min slower than 2014.

The great Andy Potts was 5min slower than 2014 and had to repeat sections of the course twice! The swim course in 2014 was bad; the swim course in 2015 was just atrocious. If Pros can’t even figure out the course then the age groupers have little chance.

(L) Actual Course Setup (R) Course athletes told they would swim. Note: the actual course swam is not from my Garmin 910xt but my course looks very similar.

I set out with the mindset that I was going to try and push the bike this year with the goal of riding 2:15. I settled into a good rhythm early on the bike and by the half-way point found myself with virtually no company. At times I even wondered if I was riding the right course though the occasional pylon and volunteer assured me that I was indeed headed in the right direction. I struggled on the later section of the bike and battled through some cramping of the quads. Bike time 2:15:17 rocking my Argon 18 E-118. Power output was 237W Average, 240W NP, with a variability index of 1.01. There is still definitely room for improvement but I was very satisfied with the effort as it was a little over 3min faster than last year.

Alone on the bike! (photo credit Ironman 70.3 Calgary)

Onto the run and well I knew it was going to hurt. My quads were very sore, more so than usual. I could feel the onset of cramping but I was prepared to battle. The opening kilometers were a tad fast and much like last year I reigned in my pace by about 4kms. 
High fiving my buddy James prior to heading down into Glenmore Reservoir.

As I headed past my cheering squad (Dad, Mom, Claudia, Ruth, James, Klara, and Abigail) and headed down into Glenmore Reservoir I heard my dad yell something like the top age grouper was 3min ahead (or did he mean top age grouper in my category) and I was in 7th place (or did he say 17th) and 1st in my AG (or was I hearing things). As I wrestled through what he said over the next few kms it quickly became clear. As we approached the turnaround at ~10.5kms I saw the first age grouper (his lead was now down to 1:30) and the second age grouper was not far behind. Shortly after km eleven I reeled in the second age grouper. (I was really racing the age groupers in my wave M30-44 as M<30 and M>44 went off 5 min behind my wave). By the time we had climbed back out of Glenmore Reservoir the lead was down to ~50s with about 4kms to go (thanks to Dad calling the split). I tried my best but my legs were on the verge of cramping and despite being able to see the top age grouper in M35-39, Antonio Ferreira Da Silva Neto, I couldn’t close the last 37s. Run time 1:22:31 a few seconds slower than 2014. Top Amateur Run Split in my Brooks T7 Racers!

Final time 4:17:47. About two minutes slower than 2014 but that can be attributed to the chaos in the swim.  The kicker is I missed being the top amateur by 47s. That being said no complaints from me and my 1st Division win (M30-34) at an Ironman 70.3 race.

1st M30-34, 4th Amateur, 18th Overall. And a ticket to the 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Australia (which I didn't take) - figured it was time to let someone else have a slot.

M30-34 Podium L to R: 1st Me, 2nd Les Friesen, 3rd Amr El-Azhary

We concluded the weekend with post race treats at DQ with the family, a dinner date with domestic niner, and a trip to the Calgary Zoo on Monday. All in all a great weekend racing and spending some quality family time together. 

Post Race Nutrition Stop at DQ!

Monday, 6 July 2015

CAF Triathlon Championships 2015!

So I once again headed to Ottawa for the CAF Triathlon Nationals. It’s a great opportunity to race with the best short course athletes in the CAF, a great opportunity to see the CAF triathlon community, and an even better opportunity to visit family in Ottawa.

On Saturday morning I was up at 0430 for a quick breakfast of eggs, toast with jam, and a coffee in preparation for my Olympic (Standard) Distance Triathlon. I headed to Lac Leamy at 0530 with my parents and oldest sister Kelly for a 0700 race briefing and a 0715 race start. Compliments of the cooler weather over the last week it was a wetsuit swim…thankfully for me. My swim has not been great this year, but that is most certainly my fault for not being consistent enough in the pool.

As the horn went off at 0715 I did not get a very good start and did not catch a pair of feet. So I set out alone for the 2 x 750m swim course. The first loop felt good, but as I exited the water and re-entered for the second loop it was as if my head started throbbing, my heart rate skyrocketed, and I could tell I was overheating. I settled into an easier effort for a couple hundred meters and then slowly picked the pace back up. I managed to find a set of feet for the last couple hundred meters of the swim into shore. I saw 23:30 on my watch as I exited the swim (mat time 23:51). I knew the rest of the CISM guys were probably 2+minutes ahead of me.

A quick transition and it was onto the 8 x 5km loop bike course (not a very exciting course). I felt terrible on the bike during the first loop and was not overly impressed when I saw 8:30 on my bike computer as I completed the first loop. I ignored my power meter and race by feel. I pushed the second lap and was much happier to see 16:00 on the completion of the second loop. I figured I would do what I could on the bike and try and make up ground. I managed to reel Dave Dallin in after the 5th loop, saw Alex Boule on the side of the road on the last lap (he had a flat tire) and then managed to reel Eric Travis in just prior to transition. Official Time 1:03:55 (includes both transitions). Actual time was closer to 1:02. 247W Average, 255W NP. Best power output in an Oly Race to date.

Onto the 4 x 2.5km run course trailing Marc, Phil, Martin, Dave Simpkin, and John. I knew I could reel in John and Marc but figured it unlikely that I could reel in Dave or Martin. Phil was running very fast and was putting a little time into me each lap. I managed to reel John in during the first lap, and finally caught  Marc on the third lap. To my surprise I was making up serious ground on Martin. At the start of the last lap my Dad told me that Martin was just up the road. By the time we hit the turn-around Martin had a very small lead and I thought I had a real chance at catching him. With about 500m left I caught Martin and made sure to put in a big surge…I did not want to have to try and out sprint Martin. Dave on the other hand ran a strong race and held me off. Run time 35:36. A new Oly 10km run PB – surprised to say the least.

Final time 2:03:21. 3rd in the CAF, 2nd in M30-34, and 4th Overall. Not my fastest time on this course, but considering I had estimated best case effort was 2:04 I was ecstatic with the result. A huge congrat to Phil Reynolds for pulling off his first CF Triathlon and Gatineau Triathlon win – well done buddy!
CAF Triathlon 1st-5th Finishers - Marc (5th), Me (3rd), Phil (1st), Dave S. (2nd), Martin (4th)

M30-34 Podium - CAF Triathlon Sweep
A special thanks to my dad for all the pictures.

Friday, 3 July 2015

My first attempt at Bicycle Racing!

Canada Day Crit - Cat 5 Race

So I’ve decided to try my hand at a little bicycle racing this summer. Seeing as I am now racing on the Cdn Armed Forces CISM Team (read draft legal triathlon) I figured I’d better start learning how to really cycle. A friend of mine and an athlete I coach, James Dean, has been bicycle racing for a number of years and upgraded to Cat 2 at the end of last year. He recommended coming out and training with the newly formed United Cycle Elite Race Team so that I could learn the art of racing on the bike.  There is a small group of Cat 1&2 Riders (Connor, Ben, Kevin, James) that lead the group rides during the week. I took James up on the offer earlier this year and so far it has been a great learning experience.

This past week I started the adventure of Road Races. On Saturday I completed the Learn to Race Course taught by Shaun Adamson and put on by the Alberta Bicycle Association. It provided a brief overview of bicycle racing and then focused on some of the skills required to ride in a pack. On Sunday afternoon I completed the Northern Summer Series #1  Race– hosted by Juventus.  The Northern Summer Series is a somewhat laid back race series with no upgrade points available and only bragging rights on the line. It was an excellent opportunity to meet some of the Edmonton cycling crowd and perhaps more importantly provided me with a low key opportunity to practice drafting and some race tactics. I managed to stay in the front group of the Cat 5 cyclists and finished 5th(while avoiding the sprint finish).

Cory and I during the Canada Day Crit.
The highlight of the week however was the Canada Day Crit. For the Cat 5 racers it was a 16 lap race (total length ~22kms) with points being awarded every fourth lap. My goals going into the race were: don’t get lapped, complete the race, and don’t crash. Seeing as this was my first “real” road race I had no idea what to expect, but had heard that Cat 5 racing can be chaos. I stayed near the front for the most of the race (doing a good percentage of the work) and made sure to avoid the sprints. I can thankfully report that I achieved my goals and surprisingly there were no crashes in the Cat 5 race. This was definitely a great experience. It was a great confidence boost realizing that I have the power to ride at the front of the Cat 5 pack, but at the same time somewhat humbling to realize that I don’t have the sprint power or race tactics to compete for points (or at least not yet!).

The remainder of the summer will be busy with triathlon, but I should still be able to squeeze the Tour de Bowness and Provincial ITT Championships into the schedule!

But up next...Cdn Forces Triathlon Nationals (Olympic Distance) in Gatineau on Saturday