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It has been a week since IRONMAN 70.3 Calgary and a busy one for me. I've moved, I'm starting a new job Tuesday and I've been recovering from a couple injuries that have left this week pretty lacklustre in terms of training, and well, blogging as well. Nonetheless, here I stand and below is my race report. Overvall

This is a great course. The Calgary team did a fantastic job and should be proud of this event.  It is well thought out, beautiful, and fast. A race I will definitely consider doing again. Huge cudos to the race organizers and all the volunteers.

This is also the first race that my mom got to see. I have often droned on and on about the importance of a cheering section and this event is no different. I was extremely happy to have my mom and large group of friends cheering me on. You learn to respect and cherish their presence and support when you're struggling yourself. Thank you everyone!

Now, the race. I have mixed emotions about my performance this last race.

On the one hand I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed in my overall time. I'm disappointed particularly in my run time. I'm disappointed in my body letting me down.

On the other hand, I'm extremely proud of my efforts. I overcame some serious pain in my run and finished with a still very respectable time. My mental stamina and strength was tested consistently during the race and I overcame it. I put in one of the best swim times I've ever done and my bike time improved, also clocking one of my best times.

Overall, I'm happy with the race. I think it was an important step in my continued grind. I put some mixed numbers up and am proud of my output and perseverance. I finished in the Top 25 of my Division, something I'm pretty happy with.

Stage

Victoria 70.3 2016

Calgary 70.3 2016

Swim

 31:55 (2:15 min/100m)

38:54 (2:00 min/100m)

Transition 1

5:58

4:55

Bike

2:32:26 (34.6 km/hr)

2:27:31 (36.66 km/hr)

Transition 2

 3:15

4:03

Run

 2:00:32 (5:42 min/km)

2:16:39 (6:31 min/km)

Finish

 5:14:06

5:32:02

Race Morning

Race morning did not start off strong. At 2 AM I woke up with some severe pain in my shoulders, particularly the right one. It was a feeling I've never had before. It came out of no where and it hurt like hell. It is the tightest I've ever felt in any part of body and it sucked. I reluctantly put some heat on them in an attempt to ease the pain and tried to go back to sleep.

The next 2.5 hours provided little sleep and I stumbled out of bed at 4:15 in serious pain to stuff my scheduled food in my mouth. I packed my bag, had a steaming hot shower, and stretched myself out as much as I could. It got to a point where I was feeling loose enough to power through.

I arrived at the course at 6:00 AM. Plenty of time to set up my bike and get a warm-up swim in. I struggled to put on my wet suit, got my transition ready and went for a quick warm up. This is the first race where I got a true warm up in the water before and let me tell you, it made things so much better. I was able to get my swimming nerves out of the way (something typically done after race start) and test out the tight arms and shoulder. It didn't feel good, but I told myself I could do this.

After a quick little chat with my cheering section, I was ready to hit the water and go.

The Swim

Screenshot (58)
Screenshot (58)

The swim went really well. I felt strong the whole time and I found the course quite easy to navigate, despite some turns and navigating around the lake walls. The water was cool, clean, and didn't feel crowded thanks to some wide "lanes".

At the start of the race I took my chosen approach and stayed to the outside of the course. This turned into a little challenge when the water became very shallow that my hands started scrapping the bottom of the lake. A group of swimmers even got up and started walking until the shore dropped off enough. Once I passed this little shallow section it was clear swimming.

It took about 750 meters before the adrenaline settled down and I started to feel the pain in my should. It wasn't debilitating but it was noticeable and led me to do a little more breast stroke, which seemed to reduce the discomfort, then I would have liked.

I got out of the water to my cheering section feeling extremely good. I looked at my watch and was happy with my time. I strolled off to the transition and got onto my bike. YAY!!!! MY BIKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Bike

We all know I love the bike. To boot, I love the bike course in Calgary. Rolling hills, mountains, speedy downhill to close end the course. FANTASTIC!!!!!

The bike started out great. I was clicking along at a good pace, pulling away from a few clumps of riders and settling into a good pace and cadence.

The hills on the way to Bragg Creek took a little out of my me and I found it a little hard to really push it. I attribute it to the restless night, but who knows. I was a little slower on the front half of the course, but I turned the corner to Bragg Creek and put the pedal down. I knew the Bragg Creek section well and knew I could close out strong on Highway 8 back to Calgary.

Screenshot (60)
Screenshot (60)

Highway 8 got a little dicey at times. The shoulder, while sizable, has a huge rumble strip that makes passing annoying and puts the rider into traffic. At times I found myself slowing down to avoid drafting penalties, but to be honest there was a good bit of drafting happening. It had to happen from a safety perspective, but did lead to some slower speeds than had the road been open. Regardless, I put down a respectable 44 km/hr on the second half.

The end of the bike was a bit of a shit show. The course was a straight shot to T2, down a hill. Riders were easily travelling in the 40-50 km/hr range. I entered into the final stretch in a group of about 5 other riders. For some unknown reason, the volunteer directed the 5 of us, and from what I understand just the 5 of us, to turn and make a loop around the block. This cost about 2-3 minutes of extra time and left us very confused. The volunteers got us back into the straight away but it led to some serious confusion getting off the bike - to the point where a volunteer made me carry my bike back across behind the line because I got off on the line. It was chaotic, confusing, frustrating and cost some serious time in both the bike and the transition.

Despite the mix up, I finished with a shocking Top 10 bike split in my division, something I'm very happy with and pleased with my performance. My effort on the bike is paying off with good dividends.

The Run

The moment had come to test my leg. I had not run in 17 days, as I was resting and rehabilitating an injured IT Band. I was nervous to say the least. After the confusion of the bike to run transition, it took me a little longer than I would have liked to collect myself and get on with the run. Luckily, I got a nice little boost from the cheering section and got on with my run.

The run started off alright. The legs didn't feel heavy from the bike and I was going along at a decent 5:00 min/km pace. I felt like maybe, just maybe I would only have to contend with the increasing heat of the late morning and early afternoon. Then I hit the 3km mark and things started to go wrong. I started to feel my IT Band rub on my knee. By the 5 km mark I was ready to call it quits. The next 16km would be the most painful I've ever experienced and would test my mental resolved to the fullest.

As I passed my cheering section all I could say was, "This is going to take awhile". I wasn't happy and they didn't look it either. At least the beer gardens would open for them soon.

Screenshot (59)
Screenshot (59)

With each km the pain increased in my knee. It was a constant struggle, with each step bringing more and more discomfort. Each KM more and more painful than the next. It is hard to describe what goes through ones mind at this point of the event. The mind games take over and the race becomes much more than a display of physical ability.

I wanted to quit so very very much. I tried everything:

  • I tried powering through and running at race pace; telling myself it was all in my mind. It wasn't. It was really.
  • I tried speed walking. Nope not my thing.
  • I tried walking. I didn't have that much time.
  • I told myself I could quit. After some internal debate, I was going to finish. No matter what.

So I ran. I walked. I ran. I walked. I took it kilometer by kilometer. I tried to think about anything and everything but the pain. About how satisfying crossing the finish line would be ................. Eventually. For all you data and graph wonks our there, ever wonder what the pace data looks like for that type of running strategy? Well it isn't pretty ......

Screenshot (62)
Screenshot (62)

I finally made it to the 20km flag and for the first time in the last 2 hrs, started to believe myself that I could make it. I crossed the finish line unhappy and in pain. I didn't hear or see my friends and family cheering me on. I was zoned out, overcome with pain, and just wanted to finish the damn race. I crossed the line to a huge sigh of relief.

I was done. In every sense of the word.

The wrap

Immediately after the race I was not happy. I was overcome with a rush of disappointment. I knew I was better than the time I posted. I knew it.

I've had some time to reflect on the race and those initial feelings of disappointment have subsided. I'm extremely proud of what I had to overcome to finish the race. I pushed through the pain and persevered. More importantly, I found something inside of me that has been buried deep for a long time. The power to push through. To not give up when things get tough. To persevere and get it done.

I felt both strong and weak at times during this race. I learnt a lot about myself and what I'm capable of.  I know I can break the 5 hour barrier. I will break the 5 hour barrier. I'm motivated more than ever and I know what and where I need to improve.

I've take some time to recoup this week and am ready to get back on the horse in preparation for IRONMAN Cozumel.

The grind continues.

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