Sunday, 15 October 2017

2017 Ironman World Championship Race Report - DNF

As a friend reminded me, sometimes you're the nail and sometimes you're the hammer; well, today I was clearly the nail. I woke up at 0330hrs, had my usual breakfast of a couple eggs, a bagel with jam, a cup of orange juice, and of course a cup of coffee. At around 0430 we departed the house and headed down to transition. There was very little waiting to get through security, complete body marking, and weigh-in. Once that was done, it was to my bike to inflate my tires, drop off my nutrition, and then play the waiting game. My power meter didn't seem to be cooperating as the calibration numbers were way off from normal. It had rained heavily the night before and I've seen it before that when it gets wet its inaccurate (I guess I will have to send it in to get checked out). I wasn't too concerned as I knew I could ease myself into the bike.

Age Group Men - Swim Start
The pro men started at 0635 hrs, the pro women at 0640hrs, and then we, the age group men, were off at 0705hrs. I was in the water about 0645 and then swam out and lined up just left of the Roka Buoy. When the cannon went off at 0705 we were off. I was absolutely shocked how smooth the start was this year. I quickly found some open water and settled into my pace. About 500m I found a good set of feet and stayed on them until the turn around. At the turn around it was a little chaotic, but I found another set of feet and rode them all the way back to the pier. As I exited the water I saw 1:08 on my watch. All things considered I was fine with that.

And then it was onto the bike. The bike was quite congested for the opening section on Kuakini Highway, but once we were out on the Queen K things started to spread out. Most people seemed to be trying to ride legally for the first bit of the course. My power meter wasn't reading right so I just settled into a steady pace. After about 45min, I reset the power meter and it then appeared to work fine for the remainder of the bike. Just before Mauna Lani, we started getting a head wind and you could see the draft packs starting to form. All of a sudden a big pack of almost 30 plus riders rolled past me. I was expecting this at some point so I just eased off my effort and let them go. After a couple aid stations that pack seemed to disperse a little and I was able to start riding through some of them. As I was cresting the hill just North of Hapuna Beach State Park (around 66km into the bike course) I crashed into another athlete. I am not sure exactly what happened, but from what I recall, someone stopped on the road (I think he was trying to fix his chain). The rider in front of me, who I was in the process of passing, swerved at the last minute and manged to just miss the stopped rider. I couldn't react quick enough and ploughed into the stopped rider. I hit the ground pretty hard and then another rider crashed into me. I quickly assessed my wounds: a bump on the left side of my back, and scrapes on my right ankle, right knee, and elbow. My lower back really hurt, but I straightened my aerobars (as best as I could), collected my bottles and computer, and then jumped back on my bike.

Riding in the aerobars was extremely uncomfortable and applying any significant amount of power through my left leg on the climbs sent throbbing pain through my lower back. I figured I could either wait for a sag vehicle or finish the bike course. I resolved that I would finish the bike course and then call it a day. I didn't want to keep Claudia waiting too long as I knew she would be waiting outside T2. So that's what I did. I was mentally done when I arrived in T2. When I got off my bike in T2 I could hardly walk as my back had completely tightened up. Clearly, not what I was hoping for but knowing I was already qualified to come back next year was certainly a welcome relief. Despite the crash and the pain through the remaining ~120km of the bike I still managed to ride a 5:16 on the bike. Power 190W Avg, 202W NP, VI 1.06. (My power numbers were down about 5% from last year)

Abrasion on my lower back.

As I reflect, I wonder if I should have tried finishing the race. I feel like I battled through the bike and I had nothing left to prove. I was in pain and didn't see the point of trying to walk/hobble the marathon. I was mentally done when I called it a day. I had no more fight in me and so now as I reflect, I believe I made the right call. It's unfortunate that the 2017 results will have DNF by my name, but I can accept that as I gave my best on the day. 

Friday, 13 October 2017

D-1: Light Activiation & Bike Check-in

Well today was filled with pre-race jitters as I'm honestly not sure what will unfold tomorrow. Training the last couple months has been less than ideal, but I'm still confident I can put a good race together - I just need to be smart. I think smart tomorrow means swimming strong, riding conservatively to the base of Hawi, pushing the climb, enjoying the descent, and then trying to ride steady back to Kona. On the run, the plan will be to ease into the run on Ali'i drive and take the opening out and back at a pace that feels easy. If I've got any legs then real push will happen coming out of the Energy Lab. Regardless of how things unfold tomorrow, I am out to have fun and really enjoy the experience.

I woke up this morning had a quick coffee and then headed out the door for a short activation ride on the Queen K. Directly following the activation ride I went for a short activation run on Ali'i. Once back to the house, I had breakfast and then headed out for a short swim. I would normally swim first, but the water was quite choppy this morning so I elected to let it calm down a little prior to swimming. I'm hoping that the water tomorrow is a litter calmer.
Stealth Steed is racked and ready to roll!
I tried to stay off my feet for the remainder of the morning. In the afternoon I had a short nap; then Alex, Claudia, and I headed down to the Pier so Alex and I could complete bike check-in. John was able to check his bike in earlier in the day as he had a lower number.

Alex headed back to the house while I did some quick shopping for the kids with Claudia. Now it's time to play the waiting game. I'm looking forward to having fun tomorrow and racing with the best in the world.

As the kids always remind me the race plan is simple: swim strong, bike hard, and run fast.
The final sunset before the 2017 Ironman World Championship!

D-2: Military Meet & Greet / RnR / Welcome Dinner

2017 Ironman World Championship - Military Division Participants
So today was my usual D-2 "rest" day. In the past, I have typically swum every day I am in Kona; however, the normal approach I take for racing is D-2 is a rest day. So rather than stick to the typical Kona pattern, I reverted to my preferred pattern of D-2 as a rest day. Taking today as a rest day meant another hour of sleep or so this morning.

Andrew Messick took time out of his busy schedule to speak to the military athletes.

Alex, John, and I representing Canada!

Once Alex and John were back from their morning swim, we all headed into town to the Military Meet & Greet hosted by Ironman. Andrew Messick, Ironman CEO, even made an appearance this year and had some kind words. It was great meeting some of the other military athletes; unfortunately, Europe didn't seem represented...I think it had to do with Ironman not having assigned a 2017 Military Qualifier in Europe.
The orange tree where Carl and the Cameleon clan usually hang out.
The staff at Greenwell Farms are always so polite and helpful.

After the Meet and Greet, Claudia and I headed back to the house and then made our annual trip to Greenwell Farms (aka where you can buy the best Kona Coffee). Unfortunately, we couldn't find Carl the Cameleon, apparently he has been in hiding the last couple days. Greenwell Farms was quite busy today, but none the less we made our purchase and then headed back to the house.

We took it very easy this afternoon. We made another trip to the Rapid Reboot house to give their compression units another try. Who knows maybe we'll come home with one.
Athletes Welcome Dinner.

This evening was the athlete welcome dinner followed by the "mandatory" race briefing. This year's theme at the athlete welcome dinner was Aloha. It was a great evening out with Claudia and our Canadian contingent.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

D-3: A little bit of everything

Another swim at Dig Me Beach!
Alex trying out his new swimskin.
So today started off with another swim. This one was a bit different than the normal swim at Dig Me Beach. The water was quite choppy so trying to get into any type of rhythm was a little difficult. None the less, I still did about a 30min swim. Hopefully the water is a little calmer on race morning.
Me trying out a pair of Sketchers.

Following the swim, I had breakfast and then headed out for a light bike and a run. Once my workouts for the day were done, I spent about an hour touring the expo with Claudia. As always, I left with a bag of goodies but a few dollars poorer.

Glenda and I at the Aloha Lifestyles Gear Booth.
Claudia and I spent the afternoon at Aloha Lifestyles Gear were Glenda had the F2C booth set up.
Claudia chilling at the Slowtwitch party in Rapid Reboot Compression Boots.

Then it was back to the house for a quick bite to eat and then off to the Slowtwitch gathering which was only a couple houses down.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

D-4: A busy day!

So today was a busy day with lots of stuff going on. Thankfully it's only Tuesday and there is still lots of time to put the feet up.

John and I headed out for a swim.

Alex hitting the water for his swim.

We started off the day with a light swim at Dig Me Beach (Kona Pier). After the light swim, Alex and John headed back to the house while Claudia and I headed to the AWA Gold Breakfast (one of the few perks of being an AWA Gold Member - free breakfast).
Dave Scott, Greg Welch, and Mark Allen at the Gold AWA Breakfast.

During breakfast Greg Welch did a Q&A session with Dave Scott and Mark Allen which was pretty awesome.

Claudia and I with our assembled bikes.
Following breakfast, Claudia and I stopped in at More Than Sport to build a couple bikes which will be donated to kids at a local school later in the week. Following that we met up with the rest of the CAF Team and our Canadian Teammates for breakfast at Kona Restaurant Inn. Subaru Canada has hosted a breakfast in Kona for the last two years. This year Lisa Bentley spoke.
My name on the 2017 Ironman World Championship banner!

Following breakfast we headed over to complete registration. I was lucky enough to be "randomly" selected for drug testing...surprise, surprise. I think my performance at Ironman Arizona last fall may have had something to do with the "random" sampling. Thankfully it was only a blood sample. However, me being selected for drug testing was a first.
A quick stop to say hi to Glenda at F2C.

Another stop to say hi to Dominique and the Argon 18 crew.

Following registration we headed back to the house for a bite to eat. After a quick bite, I headed out for a short ride on the Queen K. On my way back to the house I stopped to say hi to Glenda at the F2C booth and then swung by the Argon 18 booth to pick-up a T-shirt and say hi to Dominique and his crew.
Relaxing at the Rapid Reboot booth.

Seeing as the Rapid Reboot house was a couple doors down, I paid them a visit to give their Compression Unit a try. Hmm...maybe I'll have to buy one of these.

Parade of Nations with Chantal and John.

And then to cap off the day, we had the Parade of Nations. Always an enjoyable event.

Monday, 9 October 2017

D-5: Bike Recon - Hapuna to Hawi

Hapuna Beach State Park
We started off today with a morning swim at Dig Me Beach (Kona Pier). Alex and John both stopped in at the ROKA booth before the swim so they could test swim a ROKA Swim Skin. The Cliff Catamaran was out this morning so we all made sure to have a quick stop at the boat for either a cup of coffee or an electrolyte drink during our swim. I of course opted for a cup of Starbucks Coffee. With our swims completed we headed back to our house for breakfast.

After breakfast, we packed our bikes in the van and headed out to Hapuna Beach State Park. The plan was for the ladies to hit the beach while we headed up to Hawi. I figured this was a great way to recon the course and ride arguably the hardest part of the course. That being said, the course is not terribly difficult; what makes this course so challenging is generally the heat and the wind. Alex and John got a little taste of the wind up to Hawi, but it was nothing too crazy today. And the heat, well let's just say it was HOT and HUMID.

After the ride to/from Hawi we headed back to our home on Ali'i drive for a late lunch and then some relaxation. Late in the afternoon, Alex and I headed out for a 45min run on Ali'i Drive. It was still hot and humid.
Dinner tonight: rice and chicken stirfry with ice cream and pineapple for dessert.
 Stay tuned - tomorrow is going to be a busy day.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

D-6 CAF Members Have Arrived

Another beautiful sunset to close out another day in Kona!
Headed out for a swim!

Another swim in the books!

So today I started the day off with a beautiful swim at Dig-Me Beach (Kona Pier). It's always a pleasure swimming in the beautiful Pacific Ocean in the tropics. After the early swim it was back to the house for breakfast and then the first trip of the day to the airport.
Alex arriving at the airport.

It was great to see Alex and thankfully all his bags arrived with him. We headed back to the house quickly, got Alex settled, and then Claudia and I headed out to Kona Baptist Church. We've made it a routine to go to Kona Baptist Church when we are in Kona and it's always great seeing familiar faces there.
John and Chantal arriving in Kona.

Once church was over we headed back to the airport to pick up John and Chantal. By the time we got back to the house, Alex had lunch prepared. (We had told him we would do it once we were back, but Alex being the Super Guy and Super Chef he is took it upon himself to make sure it was ready! - Thanks buddy! I think John and Chantal were even more thankful as they were quite hungry.)
Ready to ride!

We gave John a little time to put his bike together after lunch; then we headed out for a bike ride. We started easy along Ali'i drive so I could explain the run course. Then I showed them the start of the bike course. John headed back to the house while Alex and I did a loop of Kuakini Highway and then did an out and back to the airport.

Once we got back to the house, Alex and I headed out for an "easy" 8km transition run using Magic Sands beach as our turn around point.
Enjoying some dinner together!

Tonight's dinner: Pulled pork, baked sweet potato, salad, and for dessert berry crisp!

Another fantastic day in the books and thankful for having my teammates all here in Kona now.

On deck for tomorrow is bike course recon for Alex and John and then a ride out to Hawi.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

D-7 to Kona 2017

The sun sets on our first day back in Kona!
So Claudia and I made the trip to Honolulu on Friday the 6th of October and finished our journey to Kailua-Kona this morning on Hawaiian Airlines. My parents graciously offered to look after our children so we could get away together again this year. The travel was relatively uneventful and we are now happily settled into our accommodations on Ali'i Drive. I wanted to fly over a day earlier than the other CAF athletes as I wanted to have everything ready for them when they showed up on Sunday. It'll be a bit of a different experience for me in Kona this year as I'll have the opportunity to race with a couple of my CAF Teammates. Both Alex Boulé and John Giguerre have never done Kona, so it'll be great being able to show them around town.

I must first apologize for my lack of blogging this year. I have lots I could talk about and share, so hopefully at some point I can jot a few words down to bring everyone up to speed on my year. I'm looking forward to having fun this year in Kona. No expectations, no pressure, just get out and have fun on the biggest stage our sport has to offer.
Claudia and I enjoying breakfast at Bongo Ben's.
 Anyway, we arrived in Kona this morning, hit up our usual first morning breakfast spot, Bongo Ben's, for brunch and then did a Costco run, checked into our house, and finished off the afternoon with a grocery run to Walmart and Safeway.

Dinner tonight was salad with a little steak!
Tomorrow I'll look forward to picking up Alex Boulé and later on in the morning, John & Chantal.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

CISM - World Military Marathon Championships – May 2017

All setup and ready to race!

It’s not every day that you get to race a Military World Championships on your home soil, but this past weekend that is precisely what I got to do. I was selected to the Canadian CISM Running Team this past fall in preparation for the Championships as part of the Ottawa Race Weekend. I was pretty stoked to be part of the team and excited to be taking another crack at a sub 2:40 marathon. I had finally broken that mark in February this year at the Mesa-Phoenix Marathon (2:39:32) – in my laziness I never got around to writing that race report.

Anyways as the weeks trickled by after February, I wasn’t really sure how my fitness was coming along. I wasn’t as consistent as I would have like to be and honestly, I was a little depressed. CISM Triathlon Training Camp in Clermont in March was fun, but I left that camp wondering if I really wanted to race triathlon this year. Things didn’t go as I would have liked during Camp and instead of leaving camp encouraged to pursue excellence, I left camp wondering if I should give up triathlon, do some bike racing, and do what I enjoy most, run! 

Team Canada ready to race!
March and April in the military are always busy as we scramble to complete everyone’s Personnel Evaluation Reports (PERs). As an Officer Commanding a Flight (equivalent of a Company in the Army) the responsibility for everyone’s PERs rests completely on my shoulders. It often feels like you have no life as you frantically try to do your “normal” job while trying to push a final product out that meets the detailed requirements of higher headquarters. Least to say we are finally through that hump for this year.

Team Canada at the Awards Ceremony

Searching for a will to train coupled with an enormous burden of trying to represent your folks in the best manner possible weighed on me heavily. I was constantly tired and torn between going in early or staying late or taking the time to train. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, I felt my allegiance being pulled to work. I hate not being able to train…if you don’t believe me ask my wife. 

Anyways, enough of my ranting; this is supposed to be about running. I knew I had the fitness and the base to run another good marathon so in late April and early May I hunkered down a little and put a few good weeks of training in. I knew I was still lacking a little speed but I knew I had enough tempo work to be fine. As the race approached I felt more and more like bailing. I didn’t feel like I was in the shape I should be for a championship and I honestly didn’t want to let my team down.
Anyways, race week finally arrived and on Friday I found myself on a plane heading to Ottawa. Upon arrival at the airport we were greeted by our amazing guide Ron. Each of the teams was assigned a guide (probably less important for the Canadian Team but for some of the countries that didn’t speak English having a guide who could translate was paramount). I met the remainder of the team in the Team Canada HQ (ie. Mike Mueller & Denis Cloutier’s Suite) and then we proceeded to do our check-in. 

The gentleman himself, Ron our guide.
I elected to stay at my parents and so after our Friday evening activities were over, my brother Samuel and dad picked me up from Ottawa U. I got up Saturday morning, did a quick shake-out run and then headed back to Ottawa U for the Canadian Armed Forces Nationals Brief (the Canadian Armed Forces Running Nationals are always held as part of the Ottawa Race Weekend). Hosting the Championship in Canada meant the Canadian Athletes could compete in Running Nationals and the World Military Championships. The rest of Saturday almost seems like a blur. After the Nationals brief I had a quick tour of the Expo with Phil, then a bite to eat at Ottawa U Cafeteria and then we got ready for the CISM Opening Ceremonies. Thankfully the ceremonies we efficient (ie. Professional, but short and to the point).

Phil and I made sure to stop in and say hi to our friends at the Compressport Booth
After the opening ceremonies I quickly changed and then headed back to my parents. The house across the street from my parents had gone up for sale (or at least the for sale sign had gone up on Thursday – the property wasn’t officially going to be listed until this Wednesday). Michelle Kupe, our Real Estate agent, had coordinated a showing for 1600hrs on Saturday afternoon. The house was in pretty good condition and well we certainly couldn’t complain about the location: across the street from my parents and brother/sister in-law and backing onto a Park. Well so much for an early bedtime. After a few calls, text messages, back and forth between Claudia and me and me and Michelle, we were submitting an offer. By the time that was all done it was almost 2300hrs. Least to say I was in bed shortly after 2330hrs, but I didn’t fall asleep till well after mid-night. At 0400hrs I was up, had my standard pre-race breakfast (a couple eggs, a couple pieces of toast with jam, a cup of coffee, and a glass of orange juice) and then headed downtown to Ottawa U.

The Race itself was awesome. The National Sports Office did an amazing job coordinating the CISM - World Military Marathon Championships and along with the Race Director and his team pulled off an amazing event. The CISM athletes were included as part of the Elite field. This meant that besides the normal aid station we had our own bottles every 5kms. This meant I got to use F2C Glyco-Durance and Electro-Durance as my on course nutrition). We were lined up in the front of the field and at 0700hrs we were off. I so enjoy racing in Ottawa wearing a CAF singlet and wearing a CAF CISM singlet this year was even more special. The cheers from the crowd for being a Canadian and a member of the Forces was unreal.

Phil and I knew we would be running a fairly equivalent Marathon and so we had agreed prior to the race that we would try and stay together and pace off each other. Having such a talented field meant packs would surely form. In the first 5kms of the race I settled in, found a good draft, and avoided the urge to go hard. After about 5kms, the pack that Phil and I were with started to thin out. I realized that we could either surge a little and bridge up or we might end up in no man’s land. So Phil and I slowly surged and bridged up. A few kms later we had added James MacLellan our team mate to our pack and set about pulling in the next pack which included the speedster Alex Boulé. Shortly after entering the Parkway, we slowly closed the gap on that pack and as we headed towards the Gatineau portion of the course Alex, James, Phil, and I were all running together in the same pack. However, that was short lived and as we entered the first few rolling hills in Gatineau, Alex and James pulled away.
I felt great the opening half of the marathon - much, much better than I had felt in Mesa-Phoenix earlier this year. However, the small hills in Gatineau, the infamous bridge, and the rollers along Sussex and into Rockcliffe quicky took their toll. By 30kms I was starting to slow and as I hit 32 I remember thinking to myself that as long as I ran 4 min kms for the remainder I would be sub 2:40 again. Thankfully a small pack including a Lebanese Army Gentleman and one of the Polish girls passed me and I realized my best option was to jump in with them. I was able to enjoy their draft for between 4-5 kms however once we hit a few small hills they pulled away. With 5kms to go, I was struggling, but I knew the end was in site. 

The last kick to the finish!
Finally the finish arrived and I was relieved to see 2:39 on the clock knowing that I was going to break 2:40 for the second time this year. Final time 2:39:39 (7s slower than Mesa-Phoenix). I was 64th overall, 21st in my age category, and 41st in the Military (yes, I did get chicked by two of the Polish girls – but at least one of them is an Olympian.). The effort was good enough for third overall in the Canadian Armed Forces behind Alex and James and second in the open division (Alex races in the Master's division).

The guys may have gone home without any additional hardware, but the girls locked up 3rd place in the team competition. Well done ladies!
It was totally an awesome experience that I will not soon forget. I am already looking forward to next year hoping that I will be selected as one of the athletes sent to race the 50th CISM World Military Championships in Beirut, Lebanon in the Fall of 2018.
Hanging out with the fast Polish Team. They swept both the Men's and Women's podiums!

A special word of thanks to Active Physio Works, F2C Nutrition, and Compressport Canada for supporting me on this amazing journey. 

Accepting the Silver Medal (Canadian Military Open Division) From MGen Pelletier, CAF Running Patron

Thanks also to Spencer at the Tech Shop in Edmonton for ensuring I had a new pair of kicks to race in.