Monday, 26 September 2016

Superfrog 70.3 - Race Report

So I had the opportunity to spend the last week in San Diego. I flew in on 18 Sep and spent Mon-Fri at the Marriott in Mission Valley attending a Lightning Aerospace Short Course offered by the University of Kansas. The remainder of the CAF Long Course Team flew into San Diego on Friday. Everyone arrived without incident, but Martin and Isabelle’s bikes didn’t make the flight. Thankfully the bikes showed up on the flight Saturday morning. 
Canadian Armed Forces Long Course Triathlon Team

I was able to rent a couple houses in Chula Vista for the CAF Long Course Team. We had two small houses for our group so quarters were tight, but everyone managed. 

We completed check-in for Superfrog 70.3 on Friday afternoon. Thankfully there were no line-ups and we were through the process in a matter of minutes. Saturday morning, we (Alex, Ben, Dave B., Eric and I) headed down to Imperial Beach to check out the course.  (Note: John, Isabelle, Martin went to the airport and did their activation workouts in the afternoon.) We did one loop of the bike course and then about a twenty-minute run. After the run we went for a quick swim. The surf was pretty bad, but it was nothing compared to what was to come on Sunday morning. 

Going into the race I didn’t really have any expectations or goals. I didn’t peak for the race and had put in a solid four days of training from Mon-Thurs. My intent going into the race was similar to Challenge Penticton, to just put in a good effort, treat it like a training race, and use it as a final prep before Kona. Going in I was expecting a 30-32min swim, a 2:15-2:20 bike, and a 1:25-1:30 run. I was expecting the run to be slow given that about 8km of the race was on the beach. 

We were all up shortly after 0400hrs on Sunday morning and collectively we made our breakfast of eggs, bagels, coffee, and orange juice. We headed down to Imperial Beach shortly after 0500hrs, unfortunately parking was at a bit of a premium so we had to walk about 1.5km to the beach. After finishing up with my bike and gear in transition and hurried back to the van dropped off my bag + pump and went back to the start. 
Ready for the start (absent Dave B. - he was warming-up).

The swim was a TT start which was probably the best option for this race. The swim consisted of a two loop swim with a 150m beach run in between loops. Getting through the 10ft wave surf was pure chaos. I got pounded by a couple of the waves and was left wondering what I was doing. For a second I seriously thought about calling it a day. I then thought about the athletes who weren’t confident in the water and could only image the nightmare they must be living. I finally managed to get through the surf and continue through the first loop. I couldn’t see anything on the way back to shore as the sun was directly in my eyes. On the way back in I got picked up by a crashing wave and was slightly disoriented. I came out of the water about 50 to 100m farther down the beach than I should have but oh well. And then it was back into the water for a second loop. Thankfully I managed a little bit better but I still took a little bit of a beating. I was happy to be out of the water and ready to start hammering. Swim time was  29:10. I think the swim was a little short and they had orientated the loops so that you had the current in your favour. 

The turn-around: heading out for another lap!
I was happy to be on my bike and done with the chaos of the water. I was optimistically aiming to hold about 230W, but my legs felt a sluggish )probably a combination of the training earlier in the week and the hard effort in the swim). I eased my way into the first loop and occasionally monitored my power on my Garmin Edge 820. I was holding a little less than I wanted but decided to just roll with it. It was a flat fast four loop bike course. I saw a little drafting happening out on the course, but for the most part people appeared to be trying to ride legally. There was definitely a few people deliberately drafting, but I made the point to pass any drafters definitively so that they wouldn’t jump on my wheel. Final bike time was 2:18:57. Average speed was 39.1km/hr for the 90ish km ride. Power Average 218W, Normalized Power 222W. 

And then it was onto the run. I was looking forward to the run, but I was a bit uncertain of how running on the beach might affect my turnover. The four loop swim consisted of about ~1km of soft sand running, 1km of compact sand running, and ~3km of pavement running. I used similar pacing effort to what I had done in Weisbaden. I ran the first two loops at a steady/mod-hard effort and then tried to increase my effort through the last 10km. It seemed to work out very well and I was even able to put in a solid kick up the finishing shoot. Final run time was – 1:27:29 which was the fastest run split of the day. 
The finish!

Final Results
Final Time 4:19:24.
Overall 1st M30-34, 1st Military M30-39, 6th Overall.

Alex, John, and I with our awards and Kona coins!

And with that I punched my ticket to the 2017 Ironman World Championships. And not only did I punch a ticket to Kona but Alex Boulé(Military M40-49) and John Giguere(Military M50-59) both won their respective military age groups and punched their tickets to Kona! Looks like the CAF Triathlon Long Course Program is producing some excellent results! Alex and Ben G. also picked up slots to the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga.

A special word of thanks to Chantal, John's wife, as she kept us all well nourished throughout the weekend and ensured we had action pictures.

Now I am heading home for a few days prior to heading to Kona next Sunday with my wife.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Challenge Penticton – Cdn Long Course Nationals – Race Report

It’s taken me over a week to finally sit down and write my report. Pretty easy to sum this race up – just awesome! Never thought I could say I am a Canadian Age Group Champion.

So after the long trip back from Germany on Monday I worked Tuesday and Wednesday.  Directly after work Wednesday, we headed to Penticton. We broke the drive up and drive about 5hrs on the first day to just outside Valemont and finished the drive on Thursday to West Kelowna. The plan was for Claudia and the kids to hang around till Saturday and then head to Parksville, B.C. (on Vancouver Island) to attend Pete’s wedding (Claudia’s youngest brother). I was pretty torn about racing and missing my brother in-law’s wedding by Claudia was pretty insistent that I should race (after all it was Canadian Nationals) and she would take the kids to the wedding. 

I had arranged with Mike Brown, Race Director, to have the Canadian Armed Forces Long Course Triathlon Team (or at least most of them) race at Challenge Penticton as I figured it’d provide a great venue for our unofficial long course nationals as well as qualify a few of the CAF athletes for next year’s ITU Long Course World Championship in Penticton. Most of the CAF athletes stayed in and around Penticton while I stayed at my Aunt and Uncle’s in West Kelowna. It’s always great being able to get out in the Okanagan Valley to spend some time with my Aunt Linda and Uncle Ollie – they are excellent with the kids. 

Friday night I went to the Welcome Dinner with the CAF Long Course Team. It was great being able to socialize with other athletes, see some of my STARRT (St Albert Road Runners and Triathlon Club) peeps and meet Tenille Hoogland from Triathlon Canada – meeting a key point of contact makes everything so much easier. Hopefully our initial discussion will work out and we’ll be able to have a bunch of the CAF athletes racing for Canada at the ITU Long Course Worlds next year. 

Anyways enough of my ramblings this is supposed to be about a race. 

Going into the race I wasn’t expecting a lot. I had taken most of the week after Wiesbaden 70.3 off though I had managed to get a few swims in and had put a fairly solid block of running in. I approached the race as a long training day with the intent of pushing the run based on how I was feeling. The M30-34 field wasn’t big, but you never know who is going to show up. One name on the list caught my eye, Dave Van Reeuwyk. I am not one to scope out the competition, but Dave had handily beat me at Calgary 70.3 compliments of a solid swim and a killer bike split.

Pre-race with Isabelle, John, Alex, and me.

Time to put the wetsuit on!
Race morning came slowly. I hardly slept and I was up shortly before 4. I had my normal pre-race breakfast bagel with jam, a couple eggs, a banana, and a cup of coffee. At 5 o’clock Aunt Linda and I headed down to Penticton (about a forty-minute drive). We arrived in lots of time and by 6 o’clock I was done with my bike in transition and ready for the race start. I hung out with the CAF athletes for a bit and then we put on our wetsuits and headed down to the swim. 

At 0658 the male athletes were off in one big wave. I started on the left and a couple rows back. I figured I’d aim for the corner buoy and hopefully pick-up a draft. There was hardly any contact in the swim though for the first 600m there wasn’t much room to manoeuvre. Once we hit the first turn buoy things seemed to spread out a bit. I found a set of feet for a good portion of the race and was happy to see 49:XX on my watch as I exited the 3km swim. Going in I was expecting a sub 50 min if I had a good swim but was realistically expecting 52min. And as I came through transition I saw Dave just ahead of me. In my mind I was thinking well this is good now he only has the bike to put a little time into me and I know I outran him in Calgary and my run is even better now.

It was out onto the bike and I was happy that the first 24km were relatively flat. This gave me a great opportunity to ease into the bike and find my pacing. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people that I passed in that opening section of the race including Dave. I had not expected to see Dave until sometime on the run.  Then we headed out to Ok Falls and the loop around Skaha Lake. On the return trip from Skaha Lake Dave finally passed me which I was fully expecting. At this point I figured there was only another 50+ km of riding lift I slowly watched as he pulled away, but it wasn’t until we were back in town that I could no longer see him. I figured with only 45km of racing left he’d probably put 3-4 minutes into me as he had put 8 minutes into me at Calgary 70.3. The second loop was a bit of a mental and physical struggle. I had a bit of cramping in my left quad so increased my salt tablet consumption and worked out the cramp a few times. Once I was around Skaha Lake and heading back into town I was feeling very good. I came off the bike knowing I was near the front of the field. Bike time 3:13:02 for the 120km. Power was 213W Avg and 222W NP.

Climbing the Hill on H97 (photo credit: Jonathan Kisiloski)
And it was onto the run. My plan was to run similar to Wiesbaden 70.3 - to run the opening half at a slightly conservative pace, run the 3rd quarter at goal pace or slightly faster, and then run the last quarter fast. Well that plan changed at the first out and back. I soon realized that my team mate Alex BoulĂ© was leading the age group race (I was ecstatic, but not surprised he was crushing it) and there was only a handful of age group athletes ahead of me. Dave was maybe a minute or two ahead of me. It was at that point that I realized it was time to race. I stayed conservative and watched as I slowly gained time on Dave. After the turn around and as we headed out for our second loop Dave was 15-20s ahead of me. It was at this point I realized I had a decision to make - do I stay behind Dave or do I close the gap and then surge. I chose the latter. I made the pass, surged, and started running scared. At the turn around I realized Dave was only 100-200m behind me. I was running scared and I was slowing down. I thought to myself about 7km to go you have this. As we came up to Lakeshore Drive I knew there was one more athlete ahead of me, besides Alex. I wasn’t sure if the athlete was in the M25-29 age group or my age group. As I started to close the gap I could see his last name on his suit and it started with “W”. At this point I realized he was in the M25-29 age group and I knew I could win the M30-34 age group as long as I could hold off Dave. I managed to pass the other athlete as we ran around transition and I was able to glance across transition and see that Dave wasn’t there. I ran to the finish knowing I was the M30-34 age group champion and that I had finished second age grouper to Alex. Run time 1:55:29 (average pace 4:04/km). Run was advertised as 30km but was actually about 28.5km. 
Alex and I at the awards party! Pretty excited to have this guy on the CAF Long Course Team!

I was stoked to have won the M30-34 age group but even more stoked that the CAF had placed 1st and 2nd in the age group race. Alex finished 6th Overall and I finished 8th Overall (including the professional field). Final time 6:02:22.
M30-34 Podium

Military Podium (L to R): Me, Alex, Mikael
Many thanks to Mike Brown and his crew at Challenge Penticton for putting on a first class race. I have to say it was pretty awesome having the RD cheering for you during the race and giving you a big hug at the finish.