Jul 18, 2015

Race Report: Ingonish Triathlon (sprint) – July 5th

Being that this race was only 7 days after the half iron and the fact that I had planned on competing at the Port Hood Triathlon the following weekend, I had no intentions of racing in Ingonish. I was going anyway because Lisa was participating, but I had decided I wasn’t racing. That all changed when Port Hood was cancelled due to lack of registrations. I then had a decision to make. Would I go into Ironman with my only warm up race being Epic Dartmouth– a race that couldn’t have gone much worse? I had until midnight on July 3rd to decide, and at 10pm I decided to register for the sprint distance. I chose the sprint because I thought a 5k run would be easier on my hamstring than 10k. 

Swim: 12:00 (750m)

This was probably the best triathlon swim I’ve had to date. The time was good, but that’s not why I was so happy. For the first time ever, I was able to successfully draft during a triathlon swim. For those that are not aware, you can swim significantly faster and save energy if you swim very close to another swimmers feet. I had been practicing this and was thrilled to be able to get the job done. I exited the water faster than I ever have at the sprint distance, and because I drafted the entire 750 meters, I was a lot fresher than I normally would be.

T1: 2:36

Swim to bike went a lot more smoothly than it did 7 days previous. The length of transition was at least twice as long as the week before, but I was able to get out of T1 13 seconds faster. I got to my bike, whipped off my wetsuit in no time, grabbed my bike, and didn’t look back. Considering I exited the water in 4th place, I was very happy to be starting the bike in the lead.

Bike: 38:58 (23k)

Because I was hoping to take it easy on the run, I had full intentions of going hard on the bike. I was able to average 290 watts on the bike, which is in the range of what I was expecting.

T2: 0:36

Determined to not make the same mistake again, I made sure to have my feet out of my bike shoes well in advance of the dismount line. I then ran in my bare feet (a lot faster than with bike shoes) to mount my bike., grabbed my running shoes, and proceeded onto the run. This was the first time in a few years that I didn’t wear socks in a triathlon. It saved some time in this race, but I would never go without socks in any race longer than a sprint.

Run: 19:26 (5k)

By the time I got to the run I had built quite to lead on the closest competitor. This allowed me to run a bit slower than I normally would and ideally, prevent any flare-ups with my hamstring. I average 6:19/mile, which felt hard, but comfortable.

At the end of the day I was very happy with my decision to race. It left me in a much better frame of mind with only three weeks to race day. I not only felt great about my swim, bike, and run, I felt great about my transitions as well. Many athletes underestimate the effects of the mental side of sport. This race left me feeling strong both physically and mentally.

Total time: 1:13:34 (1st)

Race Report: Epic Dartmouth (half iron) – June 28th

The first triathlon of the year and first real test leading up to Lake Placid was a half iron distance race in Dartmouth. My coach recommended I find a half distance race 4-6 weeks out from ironman – and I chose Epic Dartmouth. I learned a lot from the race, but overall it was a very frustrating day (I’ll explain below).

Swim: 33:47 (1900m)

I wasn’t particularly pleased about my swim time, but I sighted well and I suspect the course was a bit long – so overall I was content coming out of the water in second place. I felt as if I gauged my effort well and kept a fairly even pace throughout the swim. Unfortunately, I ended up swimming most of the distance alone because the leader (Corey) was about two minutes ahead.

T1: 2:49

This portion of the race could have been a lot faster. There were wetsuit strippers set up as we entered T1, but I was so disoriented that I didn’t notice they were there, and no one said anything to me, so I lost about a minute when I got to my bike taking off my wetsuit. Other than that, I kept it simple and got on my bike relatively quickly.

Bike: 2:43:23 (95k)

The bike started out great! I was able to settle into a good comfortable pace. However, things went south very quickly. I grabbed a bottle of Gatorade at the first aid station as I was entered the roughest section of the course. While trying to refill my aero drink bottle and dodge potholes at the same time, I hit the middle of huge pothole, which caused me to almost fall off the bike. I got back into the aero position and felt relieved that I had dodged a bullet. However, what I soon realized is that I now had a flat front tire. I got off my bike, tried to stay calm and get the tire changed as quick as possible. I was very pleased to get the new tube in placed within about 2 minutes. I then used a CO2 tank to try to inflate the tire. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the adaptor at the right angle so I had to try again with my second of two CO2 tanks. Essentially the same thing happened again Now I had no CO2 tanks and a front tire at about 50psi. Luckily, an older couple that was out on the course offered me a third C02 tanks and they had an adaptor that I was more comfortable with. The third C02 tank worked well and I was back on my bike. Needless to say, I won’t be using my CO2 adaptor ever again J. All joking aside, this was very frustrating. I had now lost 6:33 and was passed by 6 athletes, which moved me from 2nd down to 7th. I tried to forget about it as I settled back into race mode. I was hoping to average 260 watts on the bike and I was right on target. I continued along at this pace until I entered a roundabout at about 60km. At this point I had clawed my way back into 2nd place. To my surprise, there were no course marshals and no signage anywhere. I was forced to make a quick decision and decided to take the first turn inside the round about. Within a few hundred meters I realized that I had taken a wrong turn so I turned around and went back down the exit ramp. This only added to my sense of frustration, but it was only a short distance and I wasn’t passed by anyone. The only problem was, when I reentered the roundabout, I still didn’t know what direction to go. The race was called “Epic Dartmouth” so I chose the exit to Dartmouth – which was a safe choice I thought. 1.6km up a gradual incline a guy driving past flagged me down and told me that I had gone the wrong way. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I had gone the wrong way twice at the same spot? All I could think was “why on earth was there no marshal/signage?” At this point I felt completely defeated, but I turned my bike around and raced back to the roundabout. I knew exactly where to go at that point because there was only one option left. I found out later that these two detours cost me over seven minutes and that I had dropped into 6th place overall. Nonetheless, with 30k left on the bike, I focused on maintaining my goal power of 260 watts and contemplated whether or not I would even bother running. Ordinarily I would never let a thought like that enter my mind, but I had been nursing a hamstring injury and hadn’t been able to do any speed work or long runs in a few weeks, so I was already reluctant to run 13 miles. That said, by the time I finished the bike all doubts left my mind and I decided to run. After all, it would be a good test for my hamstring. My average power for the entire bike was 261 – which I was very pleased with.

T2: 1:53

I was not particularly happy with T2 either, but I can place most of the blame on myself. The dismount line was at the bottom of a steep hill and for some reason, I didn’t think to remove my feet from my shoes in time. As a result, I had to run a considerable distance in my bike shoes – which was very slow and surprisingly painful. I also forgot my watch, which was mounted to my aero bars, so I had to go back to my bike (which was taken by a volunteer at the dismount line). Needless to say, I was happy to get out of T2 and onto the run. 

Run: 1:29:28 (21.1k)

I was very pleased with my run – mostly due to the fact that had very little pain in my hamstring. My coach wanted me to try for 6:30/mile, but I knew deep down that that wasn’t possible with the lack of speed work I had done in the weeks leading up to the race. I settled into a pace I thought I could maintain for 13 miles (6:45/mile). I was able to maintain this until the last few miles when pain in my hamstring left me with my choice but to slow down. All and all, I was happy with an overall pace of 6:53/mile. This left me feeling fairly confident I could run a solid marathon at Ironman.

Total time: 4:51:13 (4th place)