Monday, 25 July 2016

2016 Calgary 70.3 Race Report

Swag from Calgary 70.3

Another edition of Calgary 70.3 is now in the books and it was, well, as good as one could expect. It’s been a slow year for me due to military exercises that had limited my training in Apr-Jun. However, going into Calgary 70.3 I was pretty confident that I could put a decent race together. I knew I was most definitely not in the same form as I was last year, but I’ve continued to remind myself to set realistic expectations and then focus on executing at my current fitness level. The focus for this year is really Ironman Arizona so I’ve reminded myself to stay patient, stay focused, and the bike power and running speed will come back. And the swimming, well, despite the gains over the winter, seemed to have disappeared compliments of the field time.

Claudia, the kids and I headed down to Calgary late Friday afternoon so that I could complete athlete check-in and not have to make a trip to Grey Eagle Casino (host hotel for the expo) on Saturday morning. I’ve always been a big fan of getting my activation workouts in early on Saturday and then checking in my kit as soon as possible. Athlete check-in was a breeze and it was great seeing Calli Stromner, the GM for Triathlon Alberta, at the expo. This year they decided to give the All World Athletes (AWA) special swim caps. I politely asked the volunteer if I could have a “normal” cap as I prefer to just blend in. I think the whole AWA thing is really a marketing ploy by WTC to get athletes to race more. The only perk of AWA (AWA Gold) that I really like is early registration to one race a year – that’s how I scored a slot to Ironman Arizona for this fall. The only other perk is the breakfasts at the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 Championships. 

Anyways, enough of the ramblings. Saturday morning I met up with a friend Dave Woodruff who had flown in from Tucson to race Calgary 70.3. For those that follow my blog, it was Dave who graciously opened his home to me in January for my training camp. It was also great to see Nicole, Dave’s significant other. Unfortunately, Dave had been suffering from a chest cold the last ten days or so. It ended up in him not being able to finish the race on Sunday. Definitely a bummer, given all the training he had put in, and the travel to Canada. Dave and I did a quick bike/run brick and then a quick swim. Following our activation workout, Dave and Nicole headed back to the Grey Eagle Casino while I checked in my bike and run gear. Note: I left my run gear with my bike as I presumed that was what we were supposed to do…the volunteers didn’t tell me otherwise. So when I showed up on Sunday morning I was shocked to see my bag still there. Long story short Michelle, one of the race captains, sorted it out for me.

Saturday Morning: Heading to bike check-in.
Sunday morning came quickly and as per normal my sleep wasn’t overly great. I woke up shortly after 0400hrs and made my breakfast of eggs, a bagel with jam, and of course coffee. Claudia woke the kids up shortly before 0500hrs and we were off to Auburn Bay. We arrived there shortly after 0540hrs and I quickly finished up my preparations on my bike (tires pumped, extra latex tube, drinks, gel bottle, Garmin Edge 500 started, etc.) Setup went without incident except for the initial shock of my T2 bag still being in T1. Calgary 70.3 has two separate transitions: T1 is at Auburn Bay and T2 is at Glenmore Reservoir. 

The race kicked off at 0645 and after the Pro men, Pro women, and teams started it was the M30-44 started at 0650. The swim was very uneventful and it was a vast improvement over the disaster in 2015. The only issue I had with the swim was that having the teams start only a minute in front of us meant having to swim around a few athletes early in the swim. The swim course was probably about 100-150m short though at the time I did not realize this. I was happy to see 00:30:XX on my watch as I exited the swim. Actual time was 31:08. I was expecting a 32-33min swim so given the course was short by ~100m my time made sense. Definitely not fast, but I’ll take it.

Out of T1 and onto the bike.
Through transition and onto my stealth steed Argon 18 E-118. I knew my bike fitness was nowhere near what it was last year. I had resided myself to go a bit more by feel and then check periodically to see where my power numbers were at least to say I couldn’t hold anywhere near what I held last year. I passed quite a few athletes on the bike and was unfortunately passed by 3-4 people on the bike. I knew it was unlikely going in that I could bike a 2:15 (like I did last year) but figured a sub 2:20 was possible. After the first hour my average power was about 225W but once I made the turn and started heading back into Calgary the numbers started to drop. Bike time 2:17:41 (about the same as 2014). Average Power 213W, Normalized Power 220W. Note: For reference sake I held 235W (avg) and 240W (normalized) last year. Clearly I’ve got some work to do on the bike this year. 

Enjoying the run!
And then it was on to the run…my favourite. I just reminded myself that this was supposed to be a training race and to have fun. I put the hammer down; no I actually eased into a pace that I thought felt right and worked into it. I felt like I was running somewhere between 3:55-4:05, but didn’t really want to check as I knew I’d be frustrated knowing that I was running slower than last year. So I just reminded myself to push and to accept the pace that resulted. At around 10km I saw my buddy Les Friesen coming back the other way and he gave me a high five. Les and I have been running into each other at Calgary 70.3 since 2009 (he’s from Steinbach, MB) and I think this was the first year where we actually aren’t in the same division – as he said, “we can now cheer for each other”. Anyways, that gave me a little motivation knowing that he was having a good race. At just before the turn-around Caitlin Snow (Female Pro) passed me. I was shocked at the cadence she was running – probably 95-100 (left or right foot strikes per minute). I had never seen anyone run with that type of quick cadence before. She was running fast and I knew there was no point trying to run with her, but I decided to use her as some motivation to keep my effort up and to pace off her. Just before the climb up out of Glenmore Reservoir I could feel my quads starting to tighten up…I was concerned that they’d lock-up on the hill but thankfully they held out and then it was just 4kms more of slugging to the finish. Final run time was 1:25:05. It was about two and a half minutes slower than 2014 and 2015, but so be it. Shoes – Brooks Pure Connect – Camo Edition (unfortunately Brooks has discontinued the Connect series so I’ll be looking elsewhere for ~7oz racing shoe for HIM and IMs)
M30-34 Podium: L to R - 1st Dave, 2nd me, 3rd Drew

Final time 4:17:56. 22nd Overall, 8th Amateur, 2nd M30-34. I was pretty happy with the race. I figured if all went perfectly I could go 4:15, but realistically felt like 4:20 was were I should be at. And the good news is I punched my ticket to the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga, TN.