Monday, 10 October 2016

2016 Ironman World Championship Race Report

Swag from the Ironman World Championships

So honestly, going into the Ironman World Championship, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from my body. I hadn't raced an Ironman in two years. As this would be my fourth time racing in Kona, I had a very good understanding of the course, but the unknown factor is always the weather. I didn’t really have any goals going into the race. I really just wanted to have a great race and enjoy racing in Kona. In the back of my mind I wanted a sub 9:30 performance and a top 20 in my age group. And of course I was hoping for another Military Division win.

Anyways, race morning I was awake shortly before four and had my usual pre-race breakfast: coffee, bagel with jam, a couple eggs, and a glass of orange juice. We headed into Kailua-Kona at about 0445 and then walked down to athlete check-in. I said my goodbyes to my amazing wife and then passed through security and then body marking. After that process was done I went to my bike, put my PhD nDurance bottles on my bike, pumped up my tires, and started my Garmin Edge 810. I’ve been using the PhD products this year and have found they work extremely well (FYI – the name will be changing to First to Cross – F2C). For the bike I was planning on 1000 Calories of nDurance, 500mL of Red Bull (at special needs), 2 Bonk Breaker Bars, 3-5 Gu Gels, and 10-12 Salt Pills.

Male Amateur Athletes all lined up for the swim start!

After the bike was all set I had almost an hour to wait before the start. I ran into Christopher Loose and Ivan O’Gorman in transition. At around 0625 I finished putting on my tri-suit and swim skin, checked my pre-swim bag in, and then headed over to the pier to watch the pro men’s start. Then I lined up with the AG men and waited to enter the water. We were able to get in the water as soon as the women pro had started. We had to wait in the water about twenty minutes before we got our time to start. I seeded myself about 5m right of the Roka inflatable and about 5 rows backs. Once the cannon went at 0655 we, the age group men, were off. The initial minute or two of the start was quite congested but things started to spread out pretty quickly. I managed to get kicked in the face, punched in the head, and scraped on the left hand in the course of the swim but all the contact seemed to be accidental. 
Male Amateur start...let the chaos begin.

I settled into a smooth but strong effort on the swim out to the turn around. I was in and out of drafts for most of the swim but once we made the turn around I found a set of feet and stayed on them for the next 30 minutes. I felt strong throughout the swim and continued to remind myself to Swim Strong. I was very happy to see 1:07:XX on my watch as I exited the swim. A new PB for the swim in Kona (which is always a non-wetsuit swim and generally slow).

I quickly worked my way through transition and headed out onto the bike. The bike was quite congested for the opening loop, especially going up Kuakini Hwy. Once we were out on the Queen K things started to open up a little, but it seemed to be more congested than I could remember. It wasn’t so much congested as it was just a steady stream of people. I looked down at my Garmin Edge 820 at one point and realized I had biked the opening loop at ~210W and 230W NP. I knew this was a little higher than I wanted so reminded myself to settle into my effort and relax. I planned to Bike Hard, but I knew I needed to also Bike SMART. I was passing a lot of people, but was getting frustrated that people weren’t dropping back once they were passed. I just ignored what was happening behind me and settled into my effort. The few times I was passed I made sure that I would soft pedal and drop back out of the draft zone, only to be more frustrated by the pace line that would then pass me. As we got closer to Mauna Lani, the headwinds really started to pick-up and a massive draft pack started to form. I got pretty ticked off at this point and backed off the effort for a couple minutes to let the huge pack of probably thirty people pass me. I rode legally until I saw an opportunity as we approached the next aid station to put the hammer down and passed the pack of drafters. Thankfully a few of the athletes were likewise sick of the blatant drafting and followed suit. 

The bulk of the athletes couldn’t hold the effort and/or bridge the gaps so that was the end of that stupid drafting pack or at least the end that I saw of it. The bike is supposed to be an individual effort, follow the rules or go race another sport. Some people were clearly trying to ride legally and follow the rules while other athletes were deliberately not following the rules to gain an advantage. Unfortunately, the marshals can only enforce what they see. There were marshals out there and there were some penalties being given out, but unfortunately the marshals aren't everywhere.

The ride up to Hawi was relatively uneventful though we had a fairly strong wind on the way up and of course a screaming tailwind/crosswind on the descent. On the return trip on the Queen K we had a cross wind for most of the return leg, though with about 30km left in the ride we had a fairly strong headwind. I felt strong throughout the ride and continued to think “Ride Hard”. I felt like my nutrition plan was perfect. I was happy to get off the bike knowing I had biked five hours flat. Power 202W Avg, 212W NP, VI 1.05. 
Heading back into town after the turn around on Ali'i (photo credit Barry Green)
And onto the run. My plan was to run what felt easy on the out and back on Ali’i and then if I felt good, to start pushing a little on the Queen K. The support along Ali’i Drive was amazing. My legs felt a little sluggish, but I was really struggling with the humidity. I knew I wasn’t holding 4:15/km pace so just told myself to ignore my pace and go by effort. On the return leg, I had to start walking the aid stations to get ice down my back and my stomach to try and get my core temperature down. I knew the run was going to be a struggle, but I was going to finish and I was optimistic that I could set a new PB. The run up Palani Dr was hard, very hard, and I could feel the additional effort was really driving my core temperature up. I knew the only way to get through the marathon was going to be by staying wet and by keeping ice on me. So at every aid station I would walk, take some water, coke or Red Bull, and then drench myself in water and put ice down by back and front. As I was heading out on the Queen K I saw Tony O’Keefe on a motorbike as he was the lead bike for the Men’s Professional field. He offered words of encouragement.  I was happy to see Mike Brown and Jeff Symmonds a little further out on the Queen K. 

Heading up Ali'i to the finish!
The climb out of the Energy Lab was equally trying to the climb up Palani. However, once I was back on the Queen K I started to feel a lot stronger. I was happy to complete the final climb up the Queen K to Palani and then opened the gas as I descended to Kuakini Hwy and the final stretch. As I rounded the corner and headed down Ali’I drive, there were Steven and Linda Banks cheering for me and shortly thereafter was my amazing wife handing me the Canadian Flag so I could run down the finishing shoot with it. Final run time 3:06. It was definitely not the run I had hoped for, but I can't complain.

Final Time 9:21:27. A new Kona PB by almost nine minutes. 101st Overall, 57th Age Grouper, 12th M30-34, 2nd Canadian Amateur, and unfortunately only 3rd in the Military Division. 

No additional hardware this year, but this was by far my best overall performance in Kona! 
The best Sherpa and my #1 fan at the Athletes' Celebration Dinner! Thanks babes!

Stuffing my face and drinking Red Bull at the Athletes' Celebration Dinner!

Friday, 7 October 2016

IMWC 2016 - D-1

So today was the eve of the 2016 Ironman World Championship. I woke up early, had a coffee and then headed into Kailua-Kona for a swim. There weren't many athletes at the pier by 6 a.m., but Lance Watson was there - he was doing a video for Ironman. I chatted with him for a few minutes and then excused myself and did my 15min activation swim. Once that was done, I headed back to the condo to grab the bike and do a quick 30min ride on Ali'i drive followed by a 4km activation run.

Steven and Linda asked me to sign their poster so I obliged.

Claudia and I headed into town to meet up with Steven and Linda Banks for breakfast at Bongo Ben's. A bit of a long story here, but my dad and I met Steven and Linda Banks at Coeur d'Alene in 2012. Steven and Linda are from Washington State and we've stayed in touch through facebook since then. They have been a great encouragement over the past few years so it was great to spend some time with them. They made the trip to Hawaii this year so that they could volunteer.
Waiting in-line at check-in.

After our breakfast, Claudia and I headed back to the condo so I could pack my transition bags and finish the final touches on my bike.

The stealth steed Argon 18 E-118 is racked and ready to roll.
In the afternoon I checked in my Stealth Steed - Argon 18 E-118 and then it was time to relax with my feet up for the remainder of the afternoon and continue with the mental prep.

And so tomorrow is the big day, the Big Dance. Not sure what the Lord has in store, but I am ready to give my best.

And as the kids said, "Swim Strong, Bike Hard, Run Fast". That will be my motto for tomorrow.

IMWC 2016 - D-2

Kailua-Kona was blistering with activity this morning. I drove in to downtown early this morning so that I could hit the water by 0630. By that point the downtown core was a beehive of activity. I did a quick 20min swim, which would be the extent of my workouts for the day. I typically like to take Thursday off for a Saturday race but will often do a short swim. On the return trip to the Condo Ali'i drive was very busy with cars heading into town and a myriad of runners and cyclists on both sides of the road.

Military athletes at the 2016 Ironman World Championships!

After a quick shower at the Condo and a few minutes with my feet up, Claudia and I headed back into downtown to attend the Military athlete meet and greet hosted by Ironman. It was great catching up with a few of the athletes and especially Christopher Loose who is from Belgium. I first met Chris at the CISM race this past August in Germany and we also both raced at Wiesbaden 70.3.
Christopher Loose and I.

After the meet and greet, Claudia and I made quick stops at the Roka booth at the expo and then the Bike Works of Kona shop in downtown. After that we headed back to the condo for some down time.
Bongo Ben's takes photos of the athletes that have eaten there during the week and posts the athletes' picture and country they represent on their wall of fame. I'm pointing to my picture on the wall and Mike is being his usual funny self!

For lunch today we picked up Micheal Brown, Race Director extraordinaire (he is the Race director for a few local races near Edmonton including Great White North and is the co-race director for Challenge Penticton and the 2017 ITU Multisport World Championships) and headed back into town for a bite at Bongo Ben's. It's always great being able to catch up with Mike and hear what's new in the triathlon community.

I spent the afternoon mostly with my feet up though I did take some time to clean my bike and make it race ready.

And this evening Claudia and I attended the athletes welcome banquet and the race information brief. We were happy to meet up with Les Friesen from Steinbach, MB who is racing for his first time in Kona.

I enjoyed relaxing for most of the day and starting to get myself in the race mindset. This article from Brett Sutton pretty much sums up how I am planning to race - it's just another race (JAR). I plan to have fun on Saturday and enjoy the experience of racing in Kona.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

IMWC 2016 - D-3

Apparently Wednesday is Cruise Day in Kona!
Well today was another fantastic day on the beautiful Island of Kona. Today was a light activation day and my expo visit day.

First up this morning was a 40min swim in the Pacific Ocean with a trip to the Coffee catamaran on the return trip to the Pier.
An amazing breakfast at the Fish Hopper compliments of Computrainer.

After the morning swim, Claudia and I attend the Computrainer breakfast at the Fish Hopper. Computrainer provided the athletes with breakfast and many of us were asked to do a short interview on why we use a Computrainer. I am a big fan of the Computrainer as it allows me to train consistently during the cold winter months. We had the privilege of sitting with Karen Smyers and one of her athletes, Becky Paige, for breakfast. Karen is the 1995 Ironman World Champion and was inducted into the Triathlon Hall of Fame in 2009.
Frederick Van Lierde and I at the On Running booth!

Sylvain Laur (Mr. Compressport) and I at the Compressport booth!

Trevor, me, and Heather! Looking forward to seeing the Wurtele's ripping it up on Saturday! We are fortunate to have this amazing couple representing Canada. And yes they will both be rocking the new Cervelo P5X.

Checking out the new Cervel P5X - yes that's the Wurtele's in the back! The engineering department at Cervelo has done their homework on this bike - they have thought of almost everything.

After breakfast we spent the morning at the expo where we of course ran into a lot of really cool people including Trevor and Heather Wurtele, Sylvain Laur (Compressport Founder and CEO), and Frederick Van Lierde.

Argon 18 Booth with Dominique Fortin (Argon 18 Head Mechanic)!
And of course no trip to the expo is complete within a stop at the Argon 18 booth.

One of Carl's kids. (There is a large Chameleon that is called Carl on the farm)

Greenwell Farms Store

After our expo outing, Claudia and I returned to the condo for lunch. In the afternoon we went to our favourite coffee plantation, Greenwell Farms. After that it was a quick pitstop at Costco and Target.

I finished up the day with a light 1:15 ride and a 30min run. While out training this afternoon, I saw Heather Jackson, Melissa Haushchildt, and Frederick Van Lierde. 

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

IMWC 2016 - D-4

My swim bag this morning was #408 (I work at 408 Tac Hel Sqn)! I thought that was pretty cool.

Another wonderful day in the books here in Kailua-Kona. Today started with an early morning swim in the beautiful Pacific Ocean. After the main portion of my swim was complete, I swam out to the Coffee Catamaran to enjoy a coffee. And guess who was serving coffee...Canadian Pro, Jeff Symmonds (a week back from a 2nd place Finish at Ironman Chatannooga). Unfortunately, due to an injury early in the year Jeff wasn't able to earn enough points for the KPR so he's in Kona for his sponsors. As I was heading back from the swim I ran into Kevin and Fiona from Australia. Kevin had contacted me almost a year ago about some running tips and we've stayed connected through our blogs. This was the first time that we had actually met. Great to see all the hard work he has put in over the past few years paying off with a trip to Kona.

After the swim I returned to the Condo and awaited a call from Tenille Hoogland at Triathlon Canada. I had run into Tenille during the Canadian Long Course Nationals at Challenge Penticton and we had discussed how the Cdn Armed Forces Long Course Athletes could race as part of Team Canada. This was a follow-up discussion to start working on a plan for the 2017 Long Course World Championship...lest to say it's looking very promising. So if you are in the CAF and want to race Long Course next year stay tuned.
Jasper Blake and I.

The Canadian Contingent that showed up for the rally this morning! Thanks to Subaru Canada.

After the telecom, Claudia and I headed down to the Kona Sheraton to take part in the Team Canada breakfast/rally hosted by Subaru Canada. I have to say I was thoroughly impressed with Subaru Canada's initiative; they provided the Canadian athletes with shirts for the Parade of Nations and a bunch of other swag. They had also arranged to have Jasper Blake, former Ironman Canada winner, and Lance Watson, Head Coach at LifeSport Coaching (Brett McMahon's coach for the last 20+ yrs), speak. Both Jasper and Lance's speeches were excellent.

The beautiful view from Hapuna Beach.

Then we headed back to the Condo, packed up my bike stuff and headed into town for package pick-up. Thankfully there were no lines so the process was very quick. After package pick-up we headed out to Hapuna Beach where Claudia was going to swim/suntan while I headed out to Hawi on the bike.

After I was done the ride we headed back to the Condo, showered and then headed back into town for the Parade of Nations.
The Canadian contingent forming up for the Parade of Nations. Subaru Canada came prepared with flags for all the athletes.

One final workout for the day was a light 30min run prior to dinner.

Monday, 3 October 2016

IMWC 2016 - D-5

Ironman World Championship Banner (Photo Credit - Steven Banks)

Yes, my name is on the banner! (Photo Credit - Steven Banks)

So my parents graciously volunteered (more like told us to go) to fly out from Ottawa to look after the kids. This allowed Claudia to come with me to Kona for the week. We flew into Kona yesterday (Edmonton - Los Angeles - Honolulu - Kona). Definitely not the most direct routing, but given how late I was to qualify we had to do a little searching to find some cheap flights. Anyways, we are here now and the flights yesterday were thankfully uneventful.
Hardly awake, but ready to swim!
Today was planned as an acclimatization day. First up was a 40min swim in the beautiful pacific ocean.
Breakfast at Bongo Ben's.

Then it was time for a quick bite to eat at Bongo Ben's.

Then we made a quick stop at Safeway to purchase groceries for the week.
Pre-ride picture!

Then it was back to our condo and bike unpacking. After my bike was put back together and given a little TLC, I headed out with the aim of riding for about 3hrs. My intent was to ride easy out to the Queen K and then put a couple solid hours of race intensity riding in. Shortly after passing the airport I saw someone on the side of the road. So I did the reasonable thing and stopped. It turns out it was Ailsa MacDonald from St Albert who is a fellow Element Ambassador. I lent a hand and then headed out to finish my ride. Legs felt a little sluggish early in the ride but I felt very good after about an hour.
Fixing Ailsa's flat tire (Photo Credit - Barry Green)

Back to the condo for a quick Skype call with the kids and then out for a 30min run. The legs felt ok on the run, but it was very humid.
Easy walk for cool down.