Sunday was the Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5k. It was my second time doing this race. I really like doing 5k’s as a test of fitness. Anyone who say’s a 5k is easy isn’t running it fast enough! It’s a different pain than a marathon, but hurt’s in it’s own way. I was a little slower than last year, but happy with the result.
This weeks vlog is about the Surf City Marathon. I recorded my thoughts before, and then immediately after the race. My goal was to run 2:48 or better. This was my goal the last time I went after a marathon in Chicago in 2014. When I ran my first marathon in 2012 in 4:47 I couldn’t imagine running a single kilometer in 4-minutes, so it’s been a goal of mine to run a marathon at that pace. I didn’t have big mileage leading into the race, but I was getting in good speed workouts and long runs, and my tempo runs were going pretty well. I felt confident about my chances, but ultimately fell short.
A lot has been said about IM Maryland, and their decision to cancel the swim and shorten the bike. I wont get into that. I’ve written a long and wordy race report which you can find HERE. I’ve condensed the report into a shortened version, which you can find below.
My main goal for the race was to try to break 9-hours. My plan to get there was S – 57 B – 4:40 R – 3:05
Got to the race site Thursday. After checking in I did a quick swim and learned very quick why it was called the Choptank.
After the swim I drove the bike course. In the Blackwater Refuge area there were multiple stretches of 200m under 6-inches of water.
Race morning I got to transition around 5:30AM. The water seemed a little calmer than the previous days. I assumed we were swimming, put nutrition on my bike and got ready to race.
Was first delayed 30 minutes, and then cancelled. Race was going to be a bike-run with a TT start by bib number. Suddenly the AWA program seemed to have a real benefit, I had a low bib number and would only have to wait about 10 minutes to start. Some people would wait 2-hours.
I grabbed my T1 bag and changed into run stuff. I was getting cold so I took time to really dry off.
This was the start of the race.
I took the first 10 minutes easy. There are some 90* turns and I didn’t want to risk my race going around an early corner.
The first loop of the bike was pretty spread out. I was able to make my way through the field relatively easy. I only saw blatant drafting once, when 6 guys were team TTing. I also only saw one drafting official the entire time.
The second loop was far more congested. Riders were spread out across the road so I had to be careful working my way through. There were a couple cars that got onto the course that I also got stuck behind.
Nutrition was 1/2 a waffel or a gel every 20min. I meant to drink at least 5 bottles of Gatorade but only drank 4.
160k bike – 4:01:42, 243AP, 247NP
I switched into full run gear – split shorts and singlet. I did this in Whistler last year, it only takes a couple seconds, and found it a lot more comfortable. Also, it makes you stand out so you get a lot more cheers.
I was told I was 6-7 minutes down to the first person on the course. I’m not really interested in Kona right now, and my sub-9 hopes went out the window when the course was shortened, so I decided I’d go for broke and try to catch the leader on the course (again, not necessarily the actual leader because of the TT start). I was going to shoot for a 3-hour marathon instead of my planned 3:05.
My first loop went well, I was running well and on pace, though I didn’t seem to make any inroads on the leader
My second loop I began to struggle. The course was a lot busier, and I found someone to run with to try to pace off of.
I crossed half way in 1:30, but things were trending down.
The third loop I was in survival mode. In the final mile of the race someone came absolutely flying by me.
Nutrition was Coke the first loop, a gel, Coke and a little water on the second loop, and whatever I could grab on the third.
I ran 3:09:36
Post Race Thoughts
Lots of fast runs out there. I usually have one of the best run splits, and my doors were blown off by a number of guys. 12 people ran faster, 4 guys ran sub 3:00, and the winner ran 2:50!!!
The water on the run was like nothing I’ve seen before. I only had to deal with it once, but some people had to run through it 12+ times.
Even though things got pretty dark for me in the second half of the run I’m glad I went for it.
Also a shout out to my girlfriend, Lisa Goetz, who ran down 1st and 2nd females on the course in the final mile to take the OA female win!
Ironman Maryland is a race that I don’t think I’ll forget anytime soon. The course, and the competition, wasn’t what I expected. The race presented logistical challenges I hadn’t had to deal with in previous races, and it didn’t help that mother nature wasn’t playing along.
Lisa and I hit the road after work on Tuesday. Our plan was to drive as far as we could before finding somewhere to sleep.
On Wednesday we arrived in Washington, DC just after noon. Neither of us had been to Washington so we wanted to take in some of the sights before continuing along to Maryland.
Sorry Barack, we didn’t have time to stop in and say hi
Thursday morning we got to the race site. We checked in and did a short swim. The swim course was in river called the Choptank River, and during our practice swim we learned why.
Choptank on Thursday
Flooding was becoming an issue around the race, and with the rain continuing it didn’t look like it would improve. The race organizers were forced to move transition on Thursday because the field it was on had turned into a swamp.
Lisa and I decided to drive the bike course. All was good until we got into the Black Water National Wildlife Refuge. In multiple areas the road had disappeared until 8-10 inches of water for 100-200m stretches. We weren’t sure what this would mean for the race.
Friday morning I woke up and did a little run to shake out my legs. Usually before an Ironman I’ll so a bit of running and cycling on the course but with the weather and logistical challenges of where the race is I hadn’t done anything. Where out hotel was we were surrounded by highway, so to get in a little 2k run I had to run 6 laps around the hotel.
We waited to check in our bikes until as late as possible because of the issues with rain and flooding. We got our bikes racked, and then went for another quick swim. It was still choppy.
It was wet and windy the whole time we were in Maryland
Friday night was spaghetti and then relaxing.
Just before we called it a night around 8:00PM we got an alert from race organizers that due to flooding they bike course was going to be re-routed, and it would be 8-miles short (it was actually 12-miles short). This was really disappointing. My main goal for the race was to go sub-9 hours, and to really do that I needed a full course.
We were up at 3:30AM on Saturday morning. Neither of us got a lot of sleep, but both Lisa and I felt rested. One of the first things Lisa said to me in the morning was that she thought she was going to have a good day. I had a bagel with almond butter and honey and some Gatorade and we were out the door just after 4:30AM. We couldn’t park right at the race site, we had to park a few kilometers away and take a shuttle. We arrived in transition by 5:30AM.
At check-in everyone got a note from a local student. Mine said “I hope you win”. I was going to try!
In transition I got our tires pumped up, checked brakes and skewers, loaded up nutrition and was ready to go. Lisa and I went into the water just after 6:00AM for a swim warm up. The water seemed to have calmed down since yesterday and I felt confident we would be having a swim. At 6:30AM we headed towards the swim start.
The swim was to be a self-seeded start. I was confident that I’d be able to swim under and hour, so I got in front of the sub-60:00 sign. At 6:45 instead of hearing the gun an announcer came on and said the swim was going to be delayed by 30-minutes. 30-minutes later, while about 2500 athletes were all clad in wetsuits ready to go it was announced that the swim was going to be cancelled. They told us it was because the safety kayaks couldn’t hold their position in the water, so in the event of an emergency they would have a difficult time responding. The race was going to be a TT start bike-run by bib numbers. Everyone was to change into their bike gear and wait at their bike racks.
I’ve never put any real thought into the Ironman AWA program, but boy did it pay off big time here. It was going to take approximately 2 hours to start everyone. Since I was bib # 185 I was only going to have to wait about 10 minutes to go.
T1 was very interesting because suddenly there were 2500 athletes all looking for their bike bags and trying to find space to change. By this point I was quite cold, so I took a lot of time to try to dry myself off as best as I could. I hadn’t planned on wearing arm warmers, but I decided I would because of how cool I was feeling. I went to my spot on the rack and waited for my turn to start.
Bike (the start of the race)
Finally, the race was going to start. The way it worked was you had about 5m to run with your bike to a mount line. When you started to run you time for the day began. Racing this way meant you had no idea where you were in the race throughout the day. You could be physically in front of someone on the course, but actually be 90-minutes behind them because they started well after you.
I didn’t have the adrenaline rush I would usually have in the moments before the race. I moved up the line until it was my turn, the volunteer counted down from 5 and then GO. I ran to the line, mounted my bike, and was finally off.
In the early miles of the course there are a few 90* turns. With a range of speeds and abilities from the athletes in front of me I was pretty cautious – there was some mud and wet leaves on the road so no point in risking it in the first 10 minutes. After the first 10 minutes or so I settled into my pace of 240-245W. The lack of swim didn’t impact my planned power for the bike, and I didn’t think the bike course was shortened enough to really make a difference (we were told the course would be 167k, but it ended up being 160k). As the miles ticked away I picked off the athletes in front of me.
The course is a 20k ride to the loop, 2 loops, and then 15k back to transition (you take a different route back). The course is very flat, and it’s not technical, so it’s only weather conditions that you have to deal with.
By the time I was out on my first loop the field was spread out and I wasn’t passing people as frequently. Early on in my first loop was the only time I saw a drafting official for the entire ride. This was a little disappointing as drafting can historically be a problem on this course. At around 45k I could see a group in the distance that was 6-7 strong. It looked like they were doing a team time-trial. As I rode past the group I asked the guy on the front if he knew he was towing all these guys around, and he said he had surged earlier to try to drop them, but couldn’t, and he wasn’t going to continue to risk his race just to shake off a few cheaters. I get that Maryland is a flat course, so cheating is more common, but I was surprised by how blatant these guys were being. It’s not like the course was overcrowded, there was lots of space for them to drop back. This is the first time I’ve actually witness this type of cheating and I did really wonder how those guys riding on wheels could feel proud of their race. I rode at around 300W for 2 minutes to make sure nobody even considered trying to grab my wheel and never saw the group again.
After that I didn’t see anyone again for the rest of my first loop. I knew at least 1 person was still up the road, but he was too far in front for me to ever see. Since the course is so flat I didn’t have to focus on my power meter like I usually do. The final 15k of the first loop had a head wind. After I had been cruising along at about 42km/h riding at 36km/h felt slow. I just tried to stay in a low and lead position. A couple times I switched into a harder gear for a minute and slowed my cadence to give me legs different stimulation.
As I began my second loop the clear roads I had been enjoying disappeared. I was about 2:04 into my ride when I hit the 82k mark where the second loop began and suddenly the road was congested with bikes. People were riding 2-3 wide which made passing difficult. Most people were good at moving to the right when they heard me yell ‘on your left!’ but there were at least a dozen times in the early stages of my second loop that I had to use my brakes because people were blocking the lane and I was unwilling to cross the centre line.
All the extra traffic did help the time pass. I was constantly passing so I had to be aware of of my surroundings and be ready in case anyone veered left. I got caught behind 4 cars that had worked their way onto the course. The I couldn’t pass the cars, so I just had to wait for them to get around all the cyclists. This was more of a frustration then something that I think had a major impact on my time. Before long I was nearing the end of my second loop and ready to head back to transition.
I was surprised when I was ready to turn left across vehicle traffic to exit my second loop and the office that was supposed to be directing traffic was sitting in his car. The lead vehicle and a cyclist had already been through there, so I wasn’t the first, and this was something that could have been a bad situation.
As I rode back to transition I began to think about what I needed to do in T2. Race bike, grab back, singles, shorts, vaseline, socks, shoes, watch, go.
Coming into T2, which I guess was more like T1 here, I was able to quickly rack my bike, grab my bags and get into the change tent. I decided to switch into full run gear – singlet and split shorts. It only takes seconds to change, and I find it considerably more comfortable. Also, in Whistler I noticed it was a lot easier for spectators to identify me, which gave me extra cheers.
T2 – 3:20
It was time to burn the boats. In transition I heard I was the second athlete off the bike and about 6-7 minutes down from the leader on the course. Because of the TT start this didn’t mean we were actually 1-2, but I figured we have to of been up there. My main goal for the race was to break 9-hours. With the modified course that was no longer on the table so I wanted to go for the win. At 6-7 minutes down I couldn’t run my pace for the first half and then pick it up in the second half if I wasn’t making up ground, I needed to go right away. My plan before the race was to run 3:05, but I decided to go out at sub-3:00 pace. I figured I had just run under 1:23 in the heat for a half in Montreal, and last year I ran 3:11 in Whistler after being on the bike for a lot longer, so it seemed like it could be possible.
In the early stages of the run it felt easy, like you would expect it to. I was running a touch faster than I needed to, crossing 3k in 4:07/km pace, but still feeling good. I was taking in Coke at every aid station. My nutrition plan was to rely on Coke. If I felt like I was getting dehydrated I would grab a cup of something else, and if I felt like I was in need of calories I’d grab a gel.
I didn’t catch a glimpse of the leader until almost 6k when I was still running towards the turn around and he (Jacob Wissum) was running back. Jacob looked really strong and we acknowledged each other as we crossed paths. I tried to get a time to the turnaround after we crossed and I figured I was still over 6 minutes back. After the turnaround I began to see who was running behind me. There were lots of guys that looked strong, but I tried to keep my focus in front of me on catching Jacob, and not who was coming up behind.
As I got close to transition Lisa and I crossed paths as she was going out. Lisa looked really strong and we high-five’d as we went by each other. After you pass transition it’s about a mile through town to the turnaround. This is the best part of the route because it has the most crowd support. I was feeling good my first lap, so I tried to pump up the crowd as I made the turn.
The run course is 2 laps that are about 17k, and then a shorter 3rd lap. As I went out on my second lap the run course was getting really crowded. There was a runner in my age group, Austin, just ahead who was starting his first lap that was running well, so I tried to pace off of him. I was still running well, but my pace was creeping up into the 4:20’s. We chatted a bit as the kilometers continued to tick by.
I crossed 21k in 1:30:53. I was beginning to really feel those early kilometers where I went out a little hot, and I struggled to hold on. I wasn’t really looking at my watch, I was just running what I thought I could to get to the finish. At about 27k things started to get dark for me. Every step was accompanied by a sharp pain in my quads. By the 30k mark I was officially in damage control mode. I just had to finish up this lap and then do a little one and I’d be finished. Running up High St. to the turnaround did provide a small amount of reprieve from the pain because it was now lined with spectators. I was counting down the kilometers and couldn’t wait to be finished.
I don’t have a lot to say about the run out on the third lap, my legs were in a ton of pain, I had no regard for pace, I was just trying to continue to move forward. Looking back at my data I was hovering around 5:00/km pace. I was really happy to make it to the far turnaround on my 3rd lap – I just had to run home, but I knew I still wasn’t in the clear. If I had been more aware on this third lap I would have seen a number of runners rapidly closing the gap on me. Instead I was completely inside my own head trying to manage the pain, and it wasn’t like I could have done anything about it if I knew they were coming up on me.
On all 3 aid stations from the 3rd lap turnaround to the finish I tried to get Coke and Red Bull. I never drink Red Bull, but I hoped it would give me wings to help me get to the finish. As I ran across Water St. with about 2k the road was flooded. My entire shoe was submerged for a stretch about 150m long. This would have happened since I crossed over this area to go out on my 3rd lap with the tides coming in. I had to alter my run to go with high knees, and to my surprise this didn’t hurt as bad as I thought it would. I made the turn back up High Street, I just had a mile to go. As I ran up High Street a runner came flying by me. He didn’t just pass me, he blew my doors off. Even if I had something in the tank, I didn’t, he went by me so shockingly fast he was 30m up the road before I realized what happened.
The entire High St. is sort of like the finish chute, with loads of spectators cheering everyone on. It’s usually an area you savour on your way to the finish. I didn’t do that. I was still very much inside my own head trying to manage the pain in my legs. One foot in front of the other, keep moving forward. Even after the turn with less than 1km to go I was in a world of hurt. The finish stretch didn’t have that usual magical quality where it made all your pain go away. I didn’t look around and take it all in, I just tried to get myself to the finish as quickly as possible.
This face conveys just how much I was hurting!
Run – 3:09:36, 4:30/km, 2nd fast AG run, 13th fastest overall run STRAVA
Overall – 7:14:38, 1st AG, 5th Overall
That hurt! I crossed the line and 2 volunteers quickly rushed over to help me. I didn’t have to tell them that I needed to stop by medical. I have no concept of time after the race. I was dropped off in medical. Got some fluids. My legs were spasming. I got a massage. I passed out. I got another massage. I tried to eat something. I was in pretty rough shape.
The most disappointing thing about all of this was that Lisa was out on the course running down all the top females. I vaguely recall hearing a name that sounded like Lisa’s. I tried to make my way over to see Lisa finish, but she was already done by that point……AND SHE WON THE FEMALES RACE OVERALL!!!! Lisa was sitting just outside of medical chatting to the people who had just been helping me. She was a rock star getting picture requests, and getting lots of questions.
We both won our AG, but Lisa also took out the Female title
It’s easy to play the shoulda, woulda, coulda game after the race. I really wanted to break 9-hours in the race. The conditions meant we couldn’t have a full course. If we had a full course I am confident I would have been able to do that, and I will take that confidence with me into my next race.
I’m glad I tried to run to win. It make for a very painful second half of the run, but I’m really happy I went for it. The guys who beat me were just better. I usually have one of the fastest, if not the fastest amateur run. My 3:09 was only good for 13th quickest. 4 guys broke 3-hours and the winner was 2:50! That’s insane.
It sucked that they couldn’t put on a race over the full 140.6, but if they can’t get safety kayaks in the water, and part of the bike is flooded I don’t know what else you can do. I’m glad I’m not the one who had to make those calls.
The water on the run was insane. I only had to deal with it once, but some people had to run through long stretched of shin-high water 12+ times!
Lisa standing on the run course
Still haven’t decided if I’ll race an Ironman next year or focus on the half distance
For the next week or so I wont do any workouts, and for the next month I wont do any structured workouts
Instead of going to Kona, Lisa and I are headed to South Africa for 2.5 weeks later this month, so I’m pretty excited about that
When I get back into training one of my big focuses will be figuring out how I can run faster. I can’t give up 19-minutes on the run if I ever hope to compete. This will likely require a mix of getting stronger on the bike so I’m fresher to start the run, and strengthening the back half of the marathon
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)
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.
After a disappointing race in Tremblant a couple weeks ago I knew I wanted to do another race race before I dove head first into Ironman training for Maryland. The original plan was Muskoka 70.3, but opted to do Toronto Triathlon Festival instead.
TTF was my first triathlon back in 2012 when I did the Olympic. I finished the race 3rd last overall, last in my AG, and almost double the winners time in 3:46:42. I’ve come a long way since then, and I was keen to see what I could do on that same course.
The day before the race there was a swim course familiarization. It was a 300m loop in the lake near Ontario Place where the race would take place on Sunday. I had heard rumblings that the water had turned and become frigid, so I wanted to get into the water to see if this was the case. It wasn’t, the water was fine. I did 3 loops of the course and felt pretty good and ready to go for tomorrow.
After the swim Lisa and I headed out for a late lunch/early dinner of pasta. After that it was back home to relax. I was hungry in the evening and ended up eating a bagel and a half. I had planned on getting to bed around 9:00PM, but I wasn’t tired at all, so I did some work and didn’t get to bed until 10:30PM. Friday night I had got a really good sleep, so I wasn’t too concerned about only having a few hours the night before the race.
4:00AM came early, I didn’t climb out of bed until after 4:30AM. I had a bagel with almond butter and honey, and some water. We just had to bike 2k to the race start, so we pumped tires at home, packed what we needed to bring, and rode to transition.
After racing 4 times at Triple T I find transition a lot easier to set up. First the first time in a long time I planned to leave my shoes clipped into my bike. Lisa and I had got to a parking lot to practice the previous week and I felt comfortable doing it. I almost forgot to put vasoline in the backs of my bike shoes, but remembered just before transition closed.
As per usual I didn’t do much of a swim warmup, and there really wasn’t much space to do one. I likely swam 40m to make sure my wetsuit was on right and my goggles weren’t leaking. All was good, I was ready to race.
There were only 3 athletes in the elite wave, then a minute before a paratriathlete went, and then 3 minutes later it was my wave. I positioned myself on the front line towards the left side. I waited for the gun and we were off.
My goal was to swim my first 40 strokes as hard as I could and then evaluate where I was and settle into a pace. In Tremblant I feel like I got off to a poor start, and I didn’t want that to happen again this time (Tremblant was a beach start compared to a deep water start here). After my 40 strokes as I settled into a rhythm I was surprised to find I was in 3rd in my wave. I’ve never known where I was in the swim because there were so many bodies all around and in front of me.
During the start water had got into my goggles, so I quickly flipped onto my back, emptied them, and then kept on swimming. This slowed me down just enough to move from the hip to the feet of the 2nd place swimmer. I focused on staying on his feet.
The swim first heads west, and then two left turns have you heading east with the sun in your eyes. Spotting buoys was pretty hopeless on the way back. I used the bridge over the lake, and the sea wall on my right as reference points as I swam. I was able to draft the 2nd place swimmer most of the way back (I don’t think I went faster because of him, but I was able to swim with less effort), but he ended up missing the last buoy, and turned towards the exit early. The last buoy was very difficult to see because of the sun, but I recalled it being there when I looked at the swim before the race. I rounded the final turn and was headed to the exit feeling good.
1500m Swim – 21:02, 1:24/100m
Fortunately T1 was uneventful. I got on my helmet, grabbed my bike, and made the run up the ramp to the mount line. I had a GoPro on my bike, and I was able to turn it on as I ran through T1. My mount wasn’t exactly ‘flying’, but it was without any drama and I was off on the bike.
T1 – 1:14
I hadn’t done any specific training for this race, so I didn’t have a wattage set in stone for my ride. Based on benchmarks I wanted to hold 290-300W. It’s a relatively flat ride, and I knew the lanes were wide so pacing and congestion should no be a problem.
The first bit of the ride winds through the Ex grounds, which can be a little slow and bumpy. I picked off 1 of the 2 people from my wave in front of me here. After that it opens up as you go east on the Gardiner, and then north up the DVP. When I first got onto the Gardiner I didn’t pay too much attention to my power, and instead just tried to ride strong and see where my power was at. Unfortunately it was a little lower than planned, in the high 270s.
Besides my power being a little lower than I hoped my ride went well. I passed the other person from my wave as I headed up the DVP (2 people from the elite wave were still well up the road). From there it was completely clear roads. I focused on trying to stay low in a god aero position, and riding smooth. Around 25k I passed 1 of the 2 athletes from the elite wave who was at the side of the road with a mechanical. There was now only 1 more athlete up the road, but since I was in one of the earlier waves I had no idea how many athletes were ‘virtually’ hot on my heels.
The bike finished for me without incident. I had a gel as I climbed up the ramp from the DVP onto the Gardiner, and drank a bottle of Gatorade throughout the ride. I felt ready to run.
38k Bike – 56:17, 41.2km/h, 278W AP, 282W NP (The TTF bike course is notoriously 2k short) GARMIN FILE
T2 was without incident. I was able to rack my bike, slip on my shoes (no socks), and go.
T2 – 0:58
My goal for the run was to hold 3:45s. I was pulling this pace out of thin air. Realistically I was hoping 3:45s felt manageable, and then I could empty the tank from the turnaround to the finish. I liked that I was running on a familiar route. I’ve done many runs on the paths the TTF run course uses, and although I wasn’t quite sure where they put the turnaround, I had an idea where it would be.
I started the run feeling strong, but it wasn’t the effortlessly fast opening km I was hoping for. It was just over 3:45. I felt strong throughout the run. I was never super light on my feet and completely zoned in on my run like I’ve been on a few occasions (Mid-Summers Run and Harvest Half in 2013, Quassy Half and Barrelman in 2014), but felt way better than I did at any point on my run in Tremblant. I split the first 5k in 18:37.
As I approached the turnaround I saw Andrew coming towards me. I took note of the time, and I was about 5:00 behind him. I started 4 minutes later than he did, so I had about 1:00 to try to run down. I tried to tighten the screws and up my pace, even just a little bit. If he slipped at all I wanted to be able to take advantage. I continued to push right to the finish line. My final 2 km splits were 3:34 and 3:32. I didn’t catch Andrew, but I was really pleased with my run.
During the run I had a couple of sips of water, and thats it. The water was mostly because my mouth was getting dry. I didn’t feel like I needed anything.
Race – 1:55:56, 1st AG 25-29, 1st Amateur, 2nd Overall
After the race I learned I finished 0:37 behind Andrew. I was happy with my race, across all 3 splits. I don’t know if the swim was accurate, but I liked that I was towards the front of my wave. I didn’t light up the ride, but I had a good bike, and was able to run well off of it. And I really liked that I was able to finish the run strong.
The great thing about an Olympic is after a few minutes of resting at the finish line I wasn’t in a deep state of lingering fatigue that you can get in longer events. I walked out about 500m from the finish to cheer in other athletes and watch out for Lisa (she won her AG and was the 5th female).
Beginning Monday the focus moves to Ironman Maryland. We have 12 weeks to prepare. Over though 12 weeks I’ll plan to do 2 simulation workouts, and a half (potentially Esprit in Montreal in September).