It’s finally Ironman Maryland Race Week! 42 weeks in the making. Here are some numbers to summarize those 294 days:
- 608 hours of exercise
- Averaged approximately 14.5 hours of exercise a week, 2 hours of exercise a day
- I worked out on 277 of 294 days
- Swam 115:14:24 for a total of 352,567m (I think it’s pretty cool I averaged over 1km of swimming per day)
- Cycled 330:14:25 (most of which was inside so I don’t have an approximate distance)
- Ran 154:26:49 for 2,010km (104k was my longest run week)
- 22-hours 16-minutes was my biggest week (long weekend in Lake Placid)
- 4-hours 14-minutes was my shortest week (week after Tremblant 70.3 when I was drained)
- Longest swim was 4,122m (OWS in Lake Placid)
- Longest ride was 214.4km (Goodwood)
- Longest run was 30.3km (Leslie Spit)
- FTP increased to 330W from 310W (I was aiming for 350W, so I only got halfway there)
- 3 races in 2016 I was really happy with (Esprit, Toronto Triathlon Festival, Achilles 5k)
- 1 race in 2016 I was really disappointed by (Tremblant 70.3)
The work is done, I’m ready to race.
About a month ago I did my first, and only, SIM day in my prep for IM Maryland. Local triathlon legend Frank Webster set it up for a group of us. The SIM day included:
- 3100y swim w/ 5x400y main set
- 4 hour ride w/6x20min and 1x30min @ race power
- 18mi run broken up as 3 x (4x1mi, 2mi) on 90 second rest
On paper this was an easier SIM day then the 2 I had completed last year, but these days are never easy. Up to this point it’s been challenging for me to hold my watts over 3.5 hours. It’s been my back, and not my legs that’s held me back on my long rides. Also, the run on SIM days is always a challenge because you’re trying to run relatively quick after you’ve already been at it for hours.
Here’s a rundown of how the day went:
Swim – 400y WU, 100y build. 5x400y main set. 600y CD
- Swim was out in Durham. I usually swim on my own so it was nice to have some other people around, even if that meant I had to stay on one side of the lane. I also appreciated that the pool wasn’t nearly as warm as the one at my condo.
- I was in a lane with Colin, who was a little faster than me, so I had to work hard to keep up.
- 400s were 5:20-5:30. I was happy with this swim, but much like in a triathlon, this was only a small component of our day.
Bike – 30min WU. 6x (20min @IM pace, 10min recovery). 30min @IM pace.
- We took our time getting from the pool to starting the bike. We were going to be riding loops of a route Frank uses.
- I was about 250W AP for all my IM pace intervals. I didn’t feel like I was killing myself, but it was work.
- It was really warm, and I was trying to keep on top of my nutrition. I ate every 20 minutes so that every hours I ate a half waffle, half waffle, and a gel. I was aiming to drink about a bottle of Gatorade every 45-50 minutes.
Run – 3 x (4x1mi, 2mi @ Race pace)
- We had a quick transition to the run. For our 1mi runs we would run 800m out, and 800m back. For the 2mi it was 1mi out, and 1mi back. We had 90 seconds recovery after every interval.
- My first time through the intervals I felt great and my mi pace ranged from 6:38 – 6:51 (4:07 – 4:16/km)
- My second time through I started hurting a little more. I was feeling the heat, but I still managed to keep all my miles between 6:46 and 6:53 (4:13 – 4:17/km)
- My third time through is when the wheels fell off. The last interval of the previous set is 2mi, and I was still feeling it when I was running the first mi of this set. I ran 6:49 for my first mi, and my heart rate was up at 165. My next mi I was still holding onto sub 7min pace in 6:52, but my HR was now 168. My third mi was hell. My stomach hurt every step, I was over heating, and I was in a world of pain. I told myself if I can run this sub 7:00 I’d give myself an extra long rest. I ran 6:56, and my HR was 172. I tried to cool myself down with ice, and I took 3:00 of recovery. My last 1mi I tried to push but I was broken. I ran 7:31 and my HR was still up at 165. With only 2mi left I wasn’t going to quit my workout, but I was forced to walk for parts of it. My mi paces were 7:52 and 7:59.
- I usually wear a HR monitor, but I’ve never really paid attention to it. It was eye-opening to see when you’re HR runs too high just how difficult it is to get it back under control. Sitting in the shade with water and ice for 3-minutes my HR only came back down to 137. This is something I’m going to have to be more aware of, especially in the heat.
- I feel like my nutrition worked really well. At Tremblant I decided I was trying to force too much in. I wasn’t full, but I also didn’t feel like I needed calories. I also feel like I’ve got a better handle on signs that I need more/less.
- I should make more of an effort to train with others. In the swim I think I swam faster because I was trying to keep up. On the bike I started last and would try to catch everyone. On the run it was nice to see other people out there hurting alongside me.
October 1 is race day. This SIM day was about 7.5 hours of exercise. I’m hoping race day will be less than 9. At the time of writing I’m 11 days out from the race. I had planned on doing my last couple hard workouts today and tomorrow, but my muscles have been a little sore so I’ll likely skip them. I’d rather be underdone than overdone headed into the race. That means it’s taper time!
Seems like everybody is doing Barrelman this year, and a lot of people are doing it for the first time. I’ve had a number of people ask me if there’s anything they should know about the race, so below are 7 things I learned doing the race last year.
- There swim venue is almost like a massive pool, complete with lane lines (rowing cables). The cables can be great to aid in your signting, but be aware for a portion of the out, and a portion of the back they seem to disappear. I wasn’t the only one who lost them for a couple hundred meters, so I’m pretty sure they aren’t there the entire way. Also, the water is dark, so you need to be just about right on top of them to see them. That makes this area prime real estate, so if you’re shy about contact you might want to think about sighting the good old fashion way until the swim thins out. If you breath to the left you can see shore the entire way, which can also help with sighting.
- The sun can be low at the start. If you have tinted goggles they can be a good idea.
3. It’s a fast bike. It has the potential to be a very fast bike if you have an west to east wind. This will mean that the first 21k is a little slower, as you head into the wind before you turn to head east. Alternatively it can be a little slower (though still fast) if you have a east to west wind. The first 21k will be hot and then things will slow down after that. If you don’t have a power meter, don’t be surprised if you effort changes after the 21k mark to hold the same speed.
4. Be mindful of cars. The course travels along a lot of very quiet roads. The intersections all seemed to be controlled, but there are still lots of driveways and small side streets where cars can come out of.
5. Just past 3k (and 13.5k) there’s a short but steep hill. You’ll run past it as you run to the first turnaround and then come back to it. Don’t trash your legs to get up it as fast as you can, but try to keep your rhythm.
6. Just past 6k (and 16.5k) there’s a really steep downhill. It’s one of those hills that’s so steep that you can’t even fully use it to your advantage because you need to keep your legs under control. Don’t thrash your quads here, especially the first lap. Try to keep your turnover high instead of taking big bounding steps.
7. Don’t forget to look at the Falls! Not many races that have such a cool run course, make sure you take it in.
I’m not doing the race this year, but I’ll be out on the run course cheering everyone on. Good luck to everyone racing!
2015 Barrelman Race Report
Over the weekend Lisa and I headed to Montreal to race the Demi Esprit Triathlon. The race consisted of a 1.9k swim in a rowing basin (almost like swimming in a huge pool), 21 laps riding on the Grand Prix track (90k), and 4.5 laps of running around the rowing basin. This race has the potential to be very fast.
- The leadup to the race wasn’t exactly ideal. I’ve been dealing with some lower back pain for a couple months and Tuesday my back flared up really bad. I was able to get into a physio on Wednesday, and after lots of stretching and time with a heat pad it was feeling much better by Friday, but I hadn’t done any of my normal race week workouts. At least I knew I’d be well rested
- Lisa and I headed to Montreal Friday morning. We picked up our race kits Friday afternoon, I got in a quick 10min swin in the basin, and then it was time to put our feet up
- Saturday morning we were up just after 5:00. I had my normal breakfast of a bagel with almond butter and honey. We packed everything we needed for the race and left at about 6:15 to ride the 5k from where we were staying to the race site.
- Transition was easy to setup, and then it was just waiting until 7:50 for my race start (I had my typical honey cruller donut about an hour before the race).
Perfect weather the morning of the race
Swim – 28:40, 1:31/100m, 9th fastest
- The swim was a beach start. I’m typically poor at these and this race was no different.
- There was a surprising amount of contact over the first 400m. Likely because everyone wanted to be close to the rope you can see under the water that lines up the buoys. If you can follow it you don’t really need to sight.
- By the 400m point I had made up for my bad start and was in open water. I could see a group about 15m ahead and tried hard to bridge up, but I just didn’t have the speed.
- I made the turns hassle free, and headed back to shore.
- The swim back was uneventful.
Exiting the swim
T1 – 1:34
- I had a prime spot in T1 right next to the bike exit. You could pick your spot in transition, and I decided this would be a good one because it was easy to find, and I wasn’t leaving my shoes clipped into my bike (forgot elastics), so I wanted my run in bike shoes to be as short as possible.
- It was a relatively long run to my bike. Only excitement in T1 was I broke (technically re-broke because it was shoe goo-ed on) the finger loop on the back of my shoe, so it was a touch more difficult to put my shoe on.
Great spot right next to the bike exit.
Bike – 2:05:32, 43km/h, 259W AP, 264W NP, Fastest Bike
- Out on the bike course I was ready for some fun. Being in the first wave I figured I had at least a couple laps before it got congested.
- It took me a couple laps to learn the layout, but after that I got into a rhythm. The course got more and more congested as time went on, but passing (which is on the right here) wasn’t too much of a problem.
- About 5 laps in two cyclists came past me, these were the first two people to pass me. My power was easing down because I was more concentrated on passing safely, and less concerned about my actual power, so this was a good reminder to stay on top of it. I never let them get more than a couple hundred meters gap on me.
- Over the next 10 laps we seemed to stay in the same general area. I didn’t look back when I was in front of them, but they would come by me every 2-3 laps, and I would make sure to not let them get too far ahead.
- With 5 laps to go I upped my power to the 270-280W range. I wanted to see what sort of power I had in my legs now that I was a couple hours into the race. Again, I didn’t look back, but from chatting after the race I think I dropped both of the guys.
- I had no idea if I was leading the race, or if there was 1 or even a couple of guys going at about the same speed as me halfway around the track so that we never crossed paths.
I wasn’t sure if I’d like riding 21 laps. I loved it!
*I think the race organizers made a mistake on the bike. There was a big screen near the end of each bike lap that would show your name after lap 5, 10, 15, 20 and 21. In the pre-race briefing we were told to ignore any bike computer we had, and when the board showed 21 we exit the course. When I was finishing lap 4 it showed my name. So really when it showed 21 you should do 1 more lap and then finish. This is what I did, but many others didn’t. To make matters worse, according to Lisa later on apparently they fixed the board to show what lap you’re on (the way the board should have been set up from the beginning), but at this point most people had figured out the mistake. As far as I know they didn’t display any message on the board to say what they were doing.
T2 – 1:23
- I came into T2 and learned I was the leader. I swapped my bike and helmet for socks, shoes, sun glasses and my bib, and I was out onto the run.
It was time to run!
Run – 1:23:47, 3:58/km, Av. HR 174bpm, Fastest Run
- Out onto the run I did some fast math in my head and realized a 1:22:50ish run would bring me in under 4:00. I hadn’t dreamed of breaking 4:00 at this race, but the conditions lined up perfectly to that point for me and I had a chance. I wasn’t going to run to try to protect my lead, I was going to go for it.
- My first couple of km’s I was likely a little more excited then I should have been, laying down 3:42 and 3:48kms.
- The first aid station I ran by seemed to still be getting ready. It was getting warm and I was looking for water and Coke!
- A mistake I made on the run is I was relying on the aid stations for my fuel. The run consisted of 4.5 laps of the rowing basin. Only 1 of the aid stations on the course had Coke, and we only went past it 4 times. Early on I realized this could be a problem because I was going to be burning a lot of fuel trying to run low 3:50s, and I had 4 chances at Coke, and then water to keep me running (I didn’t even have a gel in my pocket)
- Through 14k (about 3 laps) I was 54:42, or 3:54/km. I was on pace to run what I needed to in order to break 4:00. But at that point I started to feel really hot, and my tank was almost running on empty. As I ran out to the end of the basin a 4th time I really tried to dig deep, running 4:01, 4:03, and 4:02 km’s, but I just couldn’t get my legs to run under 4:00km anymore.
- At that point I cracked, both mentally and physically. I just didn’t have the energy to pump out 3:50’s over my final 4k to come in just under 4:00. I ran 4:10, 4:09, 4:13, and 4:13. My average HR over those final 4k was 179bpm.
- The final loop I only had to go half the distance of the basin, and then I ran across a bridge on the water. At this point I was getting a little light headed and I felt like I might actually fall in.
- Every step in the final half lap was difficult, even when I saw a sign for 200m to the finish it felt like a long way. I didn’t savour the finish like I would have liked because I felt like I needed to get to the finish, get some cold water, food, and sit down.
- I broke the tape in a total time of 4:00:54, just 55 seconds too slow! (This was my 3rd overall win, but my first time there was finish tape, which made it a little more exciting)
Oh so happy to be done!
Total – 4:00:54, 1st Overall
Post Race Thoughts
- Overall happy with the race and all 3 splits
- I felt comfortable through the entire swim. In the first 400m there was a lot more contact then I usually have, but I didn’t have any anxiety, I was able to focus on continuing to push.
- On the bike I think I did a good job on the technical side of riding the course. I’ve never been in an environment where it’s so important to hold your line through a corner while trying to carry speed.
- This was the first time in a race when someone passed me and I consciously thought I don’t want them to get away. I was able to keep my power under control, but not let them get away, and it really helped from a pacing perspective.
- Overall it was a good run for me; my first sub1:24 half iron run split. The last third of the run REALLY hurt! But even after I cracked and just couldn’t run sub 4:00/km I was happy I was able to hold a decent pace.
Posing with out plaques, Lisa was the second female
Where I could have found 55 seconds
- Hindsight is great because it lets you scrutinize everything you did without any real accountability, so here are some mistakes I made, or areas I could have done things a little better:
- I expected to be faster on the swim. I swam 28:01 in Tremblant and I’ve done a lot of work on my OWS since then. Also, I had a line to follow so I didn’t really have to sight. I had a slow start, and maybe if I didn’t I could have bridged up to the group of 5 in front of me.
- In T1 I didn’t have my shoes clipped into my bike before I forgot elastics.
- On the bike I didn’t stay on top of my power the entire ride. I was happy with my ride, but I wasn’t watching my power like I usually would, and some laps it drifted down. I also feel like I could have added targeted a higher power target than 260W.
- T2 went well, so I don’t think I could have done much there.
- On the run I think I went out a little too hot. I should have settled into 4:00/km pace and then aim to negative split (I did this in Quassy and Barrelman). Instead I went out fast and then suffered at the end.
- I should have carried some fuel on the run. I expected Coke at every aid station, but most only had water. I was pushing the pace and burning a lot of fuel, if I carried a gel or two I may have been able to hold on a little longer.
Lisa has the QOM and I have the KOM for a couple of the Strava segments on the course
The Grands Prix Cyclistes happened to be rolling through Montreal on Sunday
Up next is the big one, Ironman Maryland, in 3 weeks time.