2016 Demi Esprit Triathlon (70.3) Race Report

2016 Demi Esprit Triathlon (70.3) 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.

Pre Race

  • 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

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

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.

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.

STRAVA bike

I wasn't sure if I'd like riding 21 laps. I loved it!

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!

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)

STRAVA run

Oh so happy to be done!

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

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

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

The Grands Prix Cyclistes happened to be rolling through Montreal on Sunday

 

Up next is the big one, Ironman Maryland, in 3 weeks time.

Toronto Tri Fest 2016 Race Report

Toronto Tri Fest 2016 Race Report

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.

Pre Race

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.

Race Morning

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.

Swim

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

T1

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

Bike

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

T2 was without incident.  I was able to rack my bike, slip on my shoes (no socks), and go.

T2 – 0:58

Run

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.

10k Run – 36:27, 3:39/km  GARMIN FILE

TTF Award 2nd place

Race – 1:55:56, 1st AG 25-29, 1st Amateur, 2nd Overall

Post Race

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).

Tremblant 70.3 Race Report

Tremblant 70.3 Race Report

Tremblant had some highs, some lows, and some tough lessons that highlighted a lack of preparation in my training for the race.

Pre Race

  • Lisa and I arrived in Tremblant Friday around noon. We wanted to make sure we got there in good time to pre-ride the final climb.
  • I still only have 1 chainring gear, and I had switched it to a 50T from 46T. The 50T meant I would have more top end speed, but it would be tougher to climb. I wanted to ensure I’d be able to make it up the climb. The ride went well.
  • That afternoon we got in a little swim as well. I was feeling good and ready.

  • On Saturday I got up early and watched some of the 5150 race.
  • Next was an early lunch of pasta and garlic bread, and then bike check-in.
  • My rear derailleur wasn’t shifting the greatest, so a big thanks to Todd for getting me sorted.
  • Bikes were checked, we listened to the athlete briefing, and were having another meal of pasta (this time with some lean ground beef) and garlic bread, and in bed around 9:30.
  • Saturday afternoon and evening I made sure to drink lots of water and Gatorade.

  • Saturday night I got a pretty good night’s sleep and got up around 5:15AM.
  • I had a bagel with almond butter and honey for breakfast, and started on some water and Gatorade.
  • At about 6:00AM Lisa and I headed down to transition. I pumped up our tires and looked over the bikes before returning to the condo to drop off the pump and tools. The chairlift was running so it was nice to be able to take that up and down the village.
Bike in Transition

Bike in Transition

  • Transition closed at 7:15AM but my start wasn’t until 9:12AM (Pros went off at 8:00). This meant I had a lot of time to relax before the race start.
  • I worked my way through a bottle of Gatorade and ate a honey cruller donut (tradition) as I waited.
  • I did a short warmup just before 9:00AM and then got into my coral.
Tremblant race morning

Race morning waiting at the swim start

Swim

  • I lined up in the front row of the swim about 1/3 of the beach over from the buoy line. I had done a lot of work on my swimming and I was excited to see improvements.
  • There were no nerves at the start, this could have been because I was waiting so long to start, I was just anxious to finally get started.
  • The horn went and I ran into the water. I clearly lack some open water skills because I didn’t have a great start. I seemed to get caught up in the water and the people around me over the first 100m before I was able to really swim.
  • My wave was wearing red swim caps and as I progressed towards the turn I noticed that I was beginning to pass red caps.
  • When I got to the first turn it was a little congested because there were a couple swimmers from an earlier wave holding onto the buoy.
  • I felt like I was swimming relatively straight and was doing a good job navigating around slower swimmers.
  • After the turn towards the swim finish I had a little more trouble sighting. I was trying to spot the swim finish, but was never able to see it.
  • I exited the water happy with my swim, but not sure of my time.

1.9k Swim – 28:01, 1:28/100m, 5th AG, 63rd OA

T1

  • Coming out of the water I made immediate eye contact with a wetsuit stripper and was able to get out of my wetsuit fast.
  • As I made the run towards transition I was able to pass a number of people.
  • I had decided I wasn’t going to leave my shoes clipped into my bike after doing some practice and having trouble getting my feet into my shoes comfortably. Instead I put on my helmet, grabbed my bike and shoes and ran towards the exit.
  • Just after the mount line I leaned my bike against the fence, put on my shoes, and then took off.

T1 – 3:19

Running to the mount line

Running to the mount line

Bike

  • I was in the 20th swim wave of 21 in a race with 2600 people. This meant that there were A LOT of people on the course in front of me. There were going to be a lot of people for me to pass!
  • Almost immediately I began to have to caution people “On your left”.
  • My goal was to hold 270-280W but very early I knew this was going to be very difficult to do. The course was really congested, riders were all over the road, and the speed discrepancies meant that I was going to have to be careful when making passes.
  • For a long stretch on Monte Ryan on the way out to the 117 the road is quite narrow. Once we got out onto the 117 things opened up a bit, but there were still lots of riders across the road. I had to sit up and use my brakes a lot more than I would have liked. To be fair, just because I was travelling faster than them doesn’t mean they didn’t have the right to be on the left, they too could have moved to left to pass a slower cyclist.
  • After initially feeling some frustration about this I let it go because getting worked up about it wasn’t going to help, and it was something everyone moving through the field was going to have to deal with.
  • My plan for nutrition was to eat ½ (70cal) of a waffle every 15 minutes. I would eat 6 halves, beginning at 0:15 into the bike. Then I’d take a gel (100cal) at 1:45, and that would be the last thing I’d take until I’d get to the run. I also planned on drinking 3 bottles of Gatorade (180cal each). Though I hadn’t really practiced this plan this year it’s what I did last year so I figured it would be good. It wasn’t.
  • About 1:00 into the ride my stomach began feeling full. After I ate my last half waffle 1:30 into the bike my stomach was really tight. From that point on I finished the Gatorade I had on my bike but I wasn’t able to even think about stomaching the gel I planned on taking.
  • Despite my stomach not feeling great for the final 45 minutes of the ride, my legs still had good energy. I felt like I still had a lot of power in my legs along Monte Ryan as I headed towards the village, and continued to have good power through the toughest part of the course, up Chemin Duplessis. Because of my limited gear range I was forced out of the saddle in this section.
  • Throughout the ride I wasn’t watching my power nearly as closely as I normally would. This was mostly due to the amount of passing I was doing, I felt like I needed to be alert and ensure another rider wasn’t moving left as I moved passed them.

87.6k Bike – 2:16:34, 38.7km/h, 1st AG, 17th OA, 256W AP, 270W NP, VI 1.055, Max 20 minute AP 276W.  GARMIN FILE

T2

  • T2 was uneventful.  I was able to smoothly dismount my bike and found my spot on the race.  Helmet off, shoes on, and I put on my race belt and watch as I ran out.

T2 – 1:12

Run 

  • Starting my run I could feel I might be in trouble. The top of my stomach felt like it was in a tight knot. Despite this I did my best to leave transition running hard.
  • Last year on a couple of big workout days my stomach wasn’t feeling great for the first 5k, but got better after that. My goal was just to do my best to push through the first 5k and hope I felt better.
  • That didn’t turn out to be the case. My stomach only continued to tighten, and it was really hot. At aid stations I would pour water and ice over my head and down my shorts to try to stay cool. I’d also run with ice in my hands. I tried to take in Coke at one aid station, but I quickly realized that was a bad idea and gave up on the idea of take in any more calories for the rest of the race. I tried water at a couple aid stations, but even that didn’t sit well.
  • As I continued to run my mindset changed from racing to just making it to the finish. My pace quickly deteriorated, and I wasn’t even looking at my watch anymore.
  • Around 11k someone ran past me, who I later learned was in my AG, and ultimately won it. He tried to urge me on to make a race of it, but I had nothing.
  • Two more athletes ran past me before I made it to the finish. This was a bit of a blow to my ego. Last year I took pride in solid run splits and always moving up on the run. Perhaps I was a little too confident in my run, overlooking how important nutrition, and specifically proper nutrition testing/preparation is to a good run.

21.1k Run – 1:30:26, 4:17/km, 2nd AG, 20th OA.  GARMIN FILE

Running with about a mile to go. This point it was just survival. (Thanks for the photo Glenn)

Running with about a mile to go. This point it was just survival. (Thanks for the photo Glenn)

Post Race

  • After the race the thought of eating or drinking anything still didn’t sound appealing. I found a shaded patch of grass to lay on and poured cold water over myself.
  • Eventually I made my way to the massage area. The friendly French-Canadian masseuse let me know “Your calves have very little tension, like you barely ran.” Thanks!
  • After my massage I got a plate of food from the tent, but still nothing was appealing to me and I barely picked at it. It wasn’t until a stop at Harvey’s around 7:00PM that evening that I ate (angus burger and frings).
Finally eating on our drive home

Finally eating on our drive home

Reflection

  • Overall I’m neutral about my result. I definitely feel I could have done better, but it also could have gone much worse.
  • I have some positives to take away. Namely, a 28:01 swim! This is by far my best swim in a triathlon. I’ve been putting a lot of work into my swim this year and it’s great to see it pay off.
  • I also rode my fastest 70.3 bike split to date, but with the congestion my power was much lower than I’d hoped for, and I don’t think a good bike split really counts if you don’t back it up with a run.
  • Moving forward I know I need to sort out my nutrition. The heat could have played a factor in my nutrition issue, but even at that I need to learn what I need to do to adjust in hot conditions.
  • In the next couple weeks I’m thinking of doing either Muskoka 70.3 or a simulation day. Whatever I choose to do I think my first nutrition experiment will involve taking in less calories per hour on the bike. (I expect I am on the high end of calories for triathletes. I always saw this as a positive, because it meant I had more fuel, but if I’ve got too much I’m not able to digest all of it)

 

American Triple T Race Report

American Triple T Race Report

This past weekend was the American Triple T in Shawnee State Park, Ohio.  There are 4 races in 3 days; Friday evening is a Super Sprint, Saturday morning is an Olympic, Saturday afternoon is a bike first Olympic (Bike – Swim – Run), and Sunday morning is a Half Iron.  I’ve never competed in any type of stage race before so this would be a new experience for me.  All-in-all the weekend was a lot of fun, and a great learning experience.  Since it was 4 races I don’t know how to make this report short, so I’ll break it up into different sections.

Super Sprint (350m swim, 5.5k bike, 1600m run) – Friday PM

  • The first race of the weekend, and my first triathlon of the season.
  • I pre-swam the swim before the race to get a feel for swimming in a wetsuit again
  • The swim was a time-trial start, I went off around 10th.  I feel like I swam pretty straight and went as hard as I could
  • In T1 the other guys that exited around me all passed me as they did a flying mount on their bikes.  I put on my shoes and then clipped in.
  • The bike consisted of a short and flat out-and-back, followed by a longer climb out, and downhill back.  It was too short to really look at my power meter, I just tried to ride comfortably hard.  I had just enough gears on my bike to make it up the climb at the effort I wanted.  On the way back down to transition I got stuck behind a cyclist I couldn’t pass on the descent.
  • T2 was quicker than T1 and uneventful.
  • I ran the 1mi run as though it was an interval and ran as hard as I could without risking hurting myself
  • Swim – 4:55, T1 – 0:58, Bike – 9:54 (274AP, 325NP), T2 – 0:35, Run – 5:44 (3:35/km), Total – 22:06 (2nd overall)


Olympic Tri #1 (1300m swim, 38k bike, 10.5k run) – Saturday AM

  • I felt good and ready to race Saturday morning.  The roads were a little wet and it was overcast.
  • I felt really good in the swim.  It was 2 loops, and on my second loop I think I navigated traffic well.
  • On the bike I left transition with the plan of holding about 280W.  The first big climb I realized I was a little short on gearing.  After the peak of the climb I almost missed a switchback turn, and was a little spooked after that so I took the downhills very carefully.  At the bottom of one of the descents I hit a pothole.  I hit it square, and the impact was so hard that it broke off my behind the seat water bottle holder, that had my GoPro attached (unfortunately the battery had died by that point so I don’t have the footage).  In the closing kilometers of the bike I drank most of the bottle of Gatorade I had with me on the bike.
  • Coming into T2 I stopped at the officials tent to let them know about my broken bottle (and thankfully they had my bottle and GoPro waiting for me at the finish).
  • On the run I didn’t feel very good, my stomach was very full.  The run is a tough climb to the turnaround, and then much faster coming back.  I struggled up the hills, both because I wasn’t feeling great, and my shoes weren’t always gripping the mud.  At around 7k my stomach came around and I was able to open up my stride back to the finish.
  • Swim – 18:36, T1 – 1:07, Bike – 1:10:13 (237AP, 265NP), T2 – 0:51, Run – 42:24 (4:02/km), Total – 2:13:11(6th overall)
Starting the swim

Starting the swim

Coming in to T2

Coming in to T2

Olympic Tri #2 (43k bike, 1300m swim, 10.5k run) – Saturday PM

  • I was a little sore and anxious headed into this race.  The sky was overcast but the rain held off.  After this morning’s ride and a couple sketchy corners I wasn’t thrilled about a new course that had a more difficult descent.
  • On the bike I had a plan of riding hard to catch Matt Shanks, and then follow him until the bottom of the descent.  He’s done the race before, knows the course, and seemed like a good descender, so I would try to follow his lead.
  • We started on the bike with a TT start.  This course had a really tough climb that I definitely didn’t have the gears for.  I had to push over 350W standing to move up it.  I was able to catch up to Matt before the descent and followed his lead down until we got back to the main, much wider/smother, road.
  • T1 required putting on a wetsuit in a hurry.  I put plastic bags over my feet to help my legs slide in, but I don’t know if that was really necessary.  My wetsuit is big for me, and it took me longer than I would have liked to get the bags on and off (I didn’t practice).
  • The swim really hurt!  The water felt much colder than the morning and my feet went numb very quickly.  I hadn’t made my first turn before my shoulders were in pain.  It was a struggle to make it around the swim.
  • In T2 I was pulling off my wetsuit and putting on running shoes.  I left T2 with my feet still numb, and my vision was a little disorientated (I have no idea why), but ready to run hard.
  • After not being happy with my run this morning I left T2 with the intention of running well.  I could feel my right hip, but I continued to push the pace.  On the way back from the turnaround I had moved into 2nd place and I decided I was really going to open up my legs on the downhill to try to catch the leader.  I was able to make the pass just before 8k and pushed hard to the line to get my first ever overall win!  I was really happy with this run, and surprised to find out it was only 0:15 faster than the mornings run.
  • Bike – 1:14:35 (248AP, 270NP), T1 – 1:35, Swim – 20:46, T2 – 1:12, Run – 42:09 (4:02/km), Total – 2:20:27 (1st overall)
TT bike start

TT bike start

Running for the win with less than 1k to go

Running for the win with less than 1k to go

Half Iron (1600m swim, 91k bike, 20.6k run) – Sunday AM

  • Coming into the weekend it was my goal to try to win this race overall.  As of race morning I didn’t care to start it.  I hadn’t got a good nights sleep, my right hip and shoulders were really sore and I felt run down.  On the plus side it looked like the sun would finally come out.
  • The swim felt alright.  I didn’t feel as strong as yesterday morning, but I was moving pretty well.
  • On the bike I wanted to try to catch up to Matt Shanks again, because following him on the descents really helped yesterday.  About 8k in there’s a turnaround.  I saw Matt and a couple other riders ahead of me as I was headed out to the turnaround.  That was the last time I’d see them until the bike.  I did the entire ride alone, nobody in sight in front or behind me.  The first 57k of the bike was on rough roads, and this was a mental struggle.  I checkout out of the race on multiple occasions and just couldn’t wait to be done.  My power was in the low 200s, I’d hoped to be in the mid-200s.  At 57k we hit some smooth roads, and though I was still counting down the kilometers, it wasn’t as mentally challenging.  On a lot of the climbs I was out of the saddle because I just didn’t have the power in my legs, and I was short on gears.
  • When I was coming into T2 I saw Matt Shanks leaving.  There were also 2 other bikes, so I was in 4th.  I thought I might be able to have a good run and manage a top 3, so long as my right hip held up.
  • I left T2 running about as hard as I dared.  We were running 2 loops of the run we used for the Olympic races, so I was very familiar with it.  I was surprised at how good I felt.  I passed Matt on my way to the turnaround, and saw that I still had a lot of ground to cover to catch the top 2 guys.  I ran back from the turnaround hard my first lap to try to cover as much of the gap to the front 2 as I could.  At the end of the first lap I could tell I’d made up considerable time, and at that point I decided I’d push even harder to see if I could get the win.  The course was more crowded at this point and a lot of people were encouraging me.  I moved into 2nd around 12k and then ran as hard as I could in the 800m downhill to the turnaround to catch and pass the leader.  5.5k to go and I was in the lead.  When I made the turn I was surprised to see that Matt was less than 0:20 behind me.  I ran back up the 800m hill as hard as I could to try to break the elastic.  There’s a lot of turns and I was hoping to disappear.  Also, once I got to the top of this hill it was all downhill the final 4.5k to the finish.  I didn’t look back until I made it to the finish chute and I managed to get away and get the win.
  • Swim – 24:43, T1 – 1:18, Bike – 2:46:00 (216AP, 232NP), T2 – 1:07, Run – 1:27:41 (4:15/km), Total – 4:40:49 (1st overall)

 

What went well

  • I won 2 races!  I’ve never won a race before, and I was able to win both the Saturday PM race, and the Sunday Half Iron.  In both races I left T2 with work to do and was able to run my way into the lead and the win.  Having the run as a weapon is a big confidence boost for me because I feel like I always have a chance.  In Saturday’s race I was down about 1:00 headed into the run, and in Sunday’s race I had about 8:00 to run down.
  • The swim.  This was my first open water swimming of thr year, and I felt like I was moving really well.  It was a time-trial start based on your fastest Half Iron time, so I was around strong athletes, and I felt like I could hold my own and limit my deficit.
  • The run.  Across the entire weekend I felt my running was strong.  Obviously the two races that I ran my way to the win were highlights, but I was even happy with my performance in the Saturday AM Olympic when my stomach was bothering me on the run.  I was still able to hold a decent pace when I wasn’t feeling great and I closed well in the final km’s when my stomach was finally coming around.

What didn’t go well

  • I need to get faster in transition.  I lost race 1 in transition; my swim, bike and run were faster than the winner, but I was slower in transition.  There’s a bunch of things I can do to improve.  The first is clipping my shoes in.
  • My bike was below expectations.  This may be from setting unrealistic expectations, but my power was really low for Sunday’s Half Iron.  When I tried to work on the bike my legs were just flat.  Across the entire weekend my bike output was lower than anticipated, but in Saturday’s races the course profile was a big reason for this – lots of descents more technical that I’m used to, and not knowing the course meant a lot of breaks pedalling.
  • I need to make smarter nutrition choices.  In the Saturday AM Olympic I came off the bike with a very full stomach.  I drank a lot of Gatorade in the closing km’s.  In the middle of the ride I wasn’t drinking because I was so focused on the technical challenges of the course.
  • I need to remain mentally strong.  Before the final race Sunday morning I didn’t feel like doing the race.  I hadn’t got a good nights sleep, and my hip was really sore.  When the race started I got into the race, but again by 20k of the bike my focus was waining.  I was riding completely solo, I couldn’t see anyone in front or behind me.  The roads were rough and I just wasn’t happy being out there.  My power dropped off considerably and I didn’t get back into the race until I was closing in on T2.

Thoughts on the Race

  • I think this is a great event, and worth it even if you just use it as a training weekend.  The entire weekend of racing was $200 and included 4 races, food after each race, and a finishers jacket.
  • My favourite part of the weekend was getting to meet all the other athletes.  Your transition spot remains the same all weekend, so you get to know the people around you.  You also get to know the people you’re racing against, and their strengths and weaknesses.
  • I found racing the same people really helped me realize areas I need to improve, such as my shockingly slow T1
  • I definitely underestimated the challenge of this race.  It wasn’t just the distance covered, but the difficulty of the bike and run, the rough roads, and the limited rest.  I expected I would have a lot more downtime between races, but I didn’t get close to my normal 8 hours of sleep per night
The food tent, a popular spot after every race

The food tent, a popular spot after every race

 

 

Lifetime Indoor Tri 2 – The Third Leg of the Triple Crown

Lifetime Indoor Tri 2 – The Third Leg of the Triple Crown

Sunday was the second Lifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlon of the year at Lifetime Ajax.  My first Indoor Tri was their first race in January.  Unbeknownst to my competitors, it was also the third legs in the GTA Indoor Triathlon Triple Crown!  I had captured the first two legs (Lifetime Indoor Tri 1, and TTC Indoor Tri), but the third and final legs could be the most difficult with local stud Matt Leduc throwing his hat into the ring.

Swim

My swim has seemed to have plateaued, and even regressed in the last few weeks.  I don’t know if it’s something I’m doing with my technique, fatigue, or that fact that they’ve cranked the heat in my condo pool so that is resembles a hot tub.  I swam 28 lengths at the first Lifetime race, and I wanted to better that number this time.

The whistle sounded and we were off.  I usually do my first lap a little rich before settling into my pace.  There was a big digital clock on the far wall, so it was easy to see how I was doing when I would turn (I did open turns).  My first lap was 0:35.  After that I held a pretty steady 0:40 per lap.  I felt good in the water and tried to focus on being long and lean.  I was on pace to swim 30 lengths.  At one point I tried to pick it up to see if I could squeeze out another length, but I didn’t end up going any faster.  I tried not to pay attention to any of the other swimmers in the water.  I felt very aware of what my body was doing in the water, and although I was working, I felt very calm.  I was so sure of my pace that when I completed my 30th lap I began to get out of the water without looking at the clock.  The whistle blew just as I was getting out.

10:00 Swim – 30 lengths (25 yards) – 1:29/100m pace

I wouldn’t say the swim was as well organized as last time.  I didn’t hear any of the Lifetime people go over the rules, it seemed like it was assumed we did the race in January and knew everything.  I did do that race, so it didn’t cause any problems for me, but I was surprised by that.

T1

I learned from last time that 10:00 to get to the bikes can fly by.  I quickly showered off with a little soap and cold water, and then was putting on tri shorts and a t shirt, and on my way up to the bikes.  I knew I had to adjust the seat height to 9.5.  I didn’t have to rush, I could organize everything and get settled in before it was time to go.

Bike

I wanted to hold at least 350W on the bike (I recalled that the bikes seemed to read a little higher than my PM).  I set that target right from the beginning, and stayed close to it for the entire 30:00.  Mentally I tried to break the ride up in to 5:00 segments.  The room was hot and it wasn’t long before I began getting uncomfortable.  Fortunately I was in a good rhythm, and I didn’t have to adjust the resistance.  Last time I was biking right next to Ryan.  We could see each others screens, and I can’t speak for Ryan, but it made me push harder on the bike.  I didn’t have that this time, and mentally it was more difficult to dig deep.  I was happy to make it to 15:00 at just over 350W, knowing I was half way and just needed to bring it back home.  In the second half I was getting really hot and started squirting some cold water down my back, which helped.  The last few minutes I increased the resistance ever so slightly and pushed that all the way to the finish.

Working on the bike

Working on the bike

30:00 bike – 356W (I think), 13.7mi, 44km/h pace

T2

I remembered from last time that T2 also flies by.  Switching from bike shoes to run shoes and getting downstairs doesn’t seem like much, but last time I was at my treadmill only about 0:30 before the run started.  I tried to be quick.  When I got down to the treadmills it didn’t seem very well organized.  At the last race everyone from one wave ran in a row.  This time everyone was scattered.  I ended up off on my own separated from the main group.  I’m not sure if they gave any instructions because I couldn’t hear anything until they yelled GO.

Run

My goal was to maintain 10.0 on the treadmill.  I didn’t manage to do it last time, but I hoped I was a little fitter now.  About 6:00 in I realized that I was really working to maintain the pace.  I tried to relax and just take it a minute at a time.  I tried to zone out and run, and the minutes kept ticking off.  With 2:00 to go I bumped up my speed to 10.5 and just held on until the finish.  In the end I was exhausted!

Hanging on

Hanging on

20:00 run – 5.35km – 3:44/km

Overall

I was happy with how I did.  I managed to improve on my results from January in all 3 sports.  I was most pleased with my run.  I was able to maintain my goal pace throughout, and then push it in the end.  I was surprised at just how fast Matt ran.  In 20:00 he put about 800m into me.  It’s an understatement to say that he is a much faster runner than I am, but 800m is massive, especially after a swim and bike.  At the speed I was running 800m is about 3:00.  In a heads up race I’d need 3:00 off the bike to hope to hold on for the win.

Toronto Triathlon Club Indoor Tri Race Report

Toronto Triathlon Club Indoor Tri Race Report

March 20 Toronto Triathlon Club (TTC) held it’s first Indoor Triathlon at Ryerson.  The 15min swim was in a 25-yard pool, the 20min bike was using your own bike on Wahoo Kickr’s, and the 15min run was on an indoor 140m track.

I was in the last wave at 11:30AM, this meant sleeping in.  Check-in was relatively easy, our bikes were tagged with our numbers, a volunteer would set it up when it was time, and then we headed down to the pool.  There was some miss communication on TTC’s end which meant that Lisa and I wouldn’t be competing together, she ended up in the wave just before me at 11:00AM.

10 minutes before my wave started we could get into the pool to warm up.  I had never swam at the Ryerson pool before, and it felt a bit off.  I’m not sure if it was the lighting, but the wall seemed to sneak up on you.  As I swam I felt like there was still room for another stroke, but then there wasn’t.  I was warned about this by someone in an earlier wave, which likely saved my head from hitting the wall.  In my warmup I did a couple quick 100’s to try to figure out what I thought I could do in 15minutes.  In the 25-yard pool a hard 100 was about 1:15, so I decided I’d try to hold 1:20, which would give me 45 lengths.  There was a clock at the end that I’d try to glance at it after each 100 while I was turning.

Swim

After adjusting to the pool in my warmup it was a straight forward swim.  I was against the wall on the left side of the pool.  Off the start I went hard to try to get into a fast tempo.  I felt like I was swimming good, but not great.  I just wasn’t focused on my stroke like I should have been.  There was a ladder at the end of the pool that made it difficult for me to see the clock as I was trying to quickly turn.  This really didn’t make a difference, it just meant I wasn’t able to keep track of how far through the swim I was.  I ended up swimming 43.5 lengths for 1,087.5yards, or 980m.

T1

Unlike the Lifetime Indoor Tri this race didn’t have defined transition times.  I liked that at Lifetime the next sport started at a specific time whether you were there or not.  I quickly washed my hair and rinsed off to try to get the smell of chlorine off of me.

Bike

I hadn’t ridden on a Wahoo Kickr previously.  Everyone was riding a course that had some ups and downs, so you’d have to switch gears.  My trainer at home doesn’t adjust resistance, so it took me a minute or two to realize that I would need to switch gears.  I started at about 330W and I worked my way up from there.  I told myself that this was a FTP test, and I’d just try to slowly turn the screws and crank up the power for 20 minutes.  I had a bottle on my bike and drank almost the whole thing in 20 minutes.  I finished with a NP of 351 and AP of 350, completing 12.24km of the course.

T2

I towelled myself off, switched into running shoes, and then went next door to the track.

Run

The track at Ryerson is a rectangle with sharp, banked corners.  We had 15 minutes, and someone would be counting our laps.  On the gun I took off and quickly realized that trying to hug the inside was just an injury waiting to happen.  Instead I approached the corner wide, cut it, and then finished wide.  It also was very difficult to pace, between running around people, and 4 corners per 30 seconds I never really got into a rhythm.  When they announced 5min to go I picked it up as much as I could.  By the end of the run the outside of my left foot was really sore, I expect from all the turns.  In the end I was told I ran 30 laps.  I lost count of my laps after 5 or so, and there seemed to be some confusion when I finished, so I’m not positive this number is accurate.

On the track

On the track

Thoughts

I really enjoy indoor tri’s, I think they’re a great way to get in a really tough workout in the winter.  It also helps break up the normal winter training and help stoke those competitive fires.  I was happy with my bike, I thought my swim was alright, and I don’t really have thoughts on my run.  I definitely enjoyed myself, and was surprised at the number of volunteers to help things run well.  I only have the Lifetime Indoor Tri to compare this event to, and it really isn’t a fair comparison because Lifetime holds hundreds of indoor tris every year.  The only thing that would really hold me back from doing this race again is the indoor running track.  The turns are too tight, and the track is too narrow to do a 15min run.  If it was an 8min run, or they used treadmills I think it would work a lot better.