I know I'm a little late to the game on this race report, but I've finally found some time to sit down and reflect on my last race, so sit back and enjoy. Overview
Overall, I'm extremely pleased with my second half-IRONMAN outing and second triathlon ever. I made some serious improvements over last year and am excited to see the gains of my training pay dividends. It has left me feeling motivated and encouraged that I am on my way to (a) breaking the 5 hour 70.3 barrier and (b) completing a 140.6 by the end of 2016.
So how do my two 70.3 finishes compare? I had a better swim time in total and per 100m. I crushed the bike, finishing almost 31 mins sooner and almost 6km/hr faster. The run ... was a tad slower (it shows a quicker per/km time because for some reason in 2016 I ran 21.8 km ...). Transitions were overall faster.
|Stage||Victoria 2015||Victoria 2016|
|Swim||42:32 (2:41 min/100m)||31:55 (2:15 min/100m)|
|Bike||3:03:10 (29 km/hr)||2:32:26 (34.6 km/hr)|
|Run||1:49:52 (5:48 min/km)||2:00:32 (5:42 min/km)|
As a neat note, we even made the program this year! If you look closely you can see me starring aimlessly to the left of the shot. I look nervous. Very nervous. Well, I was. This year was different and my times reflect that.
Race morning was awesome. Up at the crack of dawn (maybe before it even!). 4 am, I hopped out of bed yelling "race day, it's finally race day!!". I'm not going to say my roommates and support team were super stoked about my excitement but I felt fresh. I started off right with my nutrition plan as I crushed a bagel with peanut butter and honey, a banana, and some Gatorade. In my trisuit and out the door as made our way to the car and blasted some heart pounding, motivating "gangsta rap" on the ride.
We arrived to the course way ahead of plan, thanks to some quick thinking from Trevor's mom - whose awesome post can be read here. I set up my transition area, affixed my bike with cadence and speed sensors that I had forgot to put on the day before, slipped into my wetsuit and was ready to go with 25 mins till start.
It is always at this moment of course that one gets the "call of nature". No sooner than I had put my wetsuit on, I was in the bathroom undressing awkwardly in those tight spaces. After that was over, I still had a comfortable 15-20 mins until the start. Things were looking good.
The swim was a disaster. I'm no expert, this being only my second IRONMAN 70.3, but I think it is fair to say something went amok in the planning. For starters, Trevor and I walked about 800m in bare feet over rock covered paths as we tried to make our way to the starting area. Not the best way to get warmed up. As we followed the herd, the luxury of time quickly diminished and we were left with no warm up time at all. As the announcer made the call to get out of the water so the pros could get off shortly, I quickly jumped into the water for some last minute acclimatization and to put a little water in my suit.
At this point, we were thrown into the starting shoot, in a vain attempt to self seat everyone according to their abilities. This was a failure. A complete failure. Regardless, we were where we needed to be.
It was at this point as I where I realized how good I felt compared to last year. I actually felt comfortable. In this sea of insanely fit, motivated, and dedicated people, I felt like I belonged this year. I had done the training in a systematic way, I put in the time. I felt prepared. Ready to be let loose on this course.
After the pros had been let go, we were sent off to hit the water at our leisure. I held back a little bit because as readers of this blog know, my swimming is not strong and I was a-ok to let other people go ahead. When I finally decided to go, Trevor and I crossed the timing mat and we were off.
I waded into the water, but paused for a second to look at the scene. A flurry of swimmers splashing their way towards the 100, 200 and 300 meter buoys. It was awesome. A very cool visual. I snapped out of it hit the water and started swimming.
The best thing about this swim was that they shortened it to 1500m. Why? Because this swim sucked. I cannot express how many weeds were in the water. Even after hanging back, I was constantly grabbing weeds, pulling them off myself as they wrapped around my neck. Not the best way to find one's swimming rhythm. The course was also weirdly set up. At time the buoys were on your left, at times they were on your right. People looked confused. I was confused.
All that aside, exiting the water was the cherry on the top of this poorly thought out, laid out, and executed swim. The exit shoreline must have been too high to simply walk out of. To accommodate this they built a tight, plastic, LEGO type ramp for people to use to get out of the water. I'm not sure if you realize this, but plastic and water don't go well together and create quite a slippery surface. I was excited to get out of the water, however, I was quickly forced to hold back and fight as people struggled to get out alongside - grabbing whatever they could, whoever they could, to get out. I think my broad shoulders helped a few lovely competitors get out with my unexpected help.
I made it out of the water. A little disoriented but out. And what's the first thing I hear? Our amazing cheering section screaming my name and cheering me on! I snapped out of it and was running to my bike! YAY! MY BIKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I made it through transition pretty easily. I had set my station up much better than last year and was out in 5ish minutes. Definitely happy with that. But lots of room for improvement.
It is during T1 where I got a huge jump in my motivation. I will dedicate a separate post to this, but I cannot explain the power of having a cheering section. It is like a jolt of adrenaline every single time you see them or hear them cheering your name. As I transitioned out to the bike course, I glanced over to my left and much to my utter surprise, there were a group of great friends cheering to their hearts content! I was floored. I was not expecting them to be there yet (6:31 am is pretty early for anyone). I took this jolt of adrenaline and got onto my bike!
I nailed my bike. I knew I could hit the course hard and that is exactly what I did. I felt so good. Cadence was smooth, heart-rate consistent, and I was just plain comfortable. I hit a rhythm early. I dropped into my aero bars and just kept going. There really isn't much to talk about on the ride. I made up a lot of ground from my swim; passing group after group of bikers. I was passed by very few riders and that made me feel like I was really "on". I was going to hit my 2:30:00 target.
I loved the single loop course. There was a section where the riders were corralled onto the shoulder of a road with very little if any room to pass. I lost some time here for sure and was also almost taken out by a rider who thought he was the only one of the course despite some very vocal "passing on your left" yells from me. I made it however and all was well.
As I neared the 75 km mark, I started to slow the pace. My body felt fantastic, but I knew I had the run coming up and didn't want to over cook myself. So I slowed.
I hit transition feeling great. Got off my bike. Threw on my runners and hit the run course. Sub-5 hours was in my reach. I knew it.
As I exited transition, I once again received my adrenaline jolt from my surprisingly dedicated cheering section following my every move. As I turned to hit the run course I caught one of those fans running up to the fence to get a "Go B!!!" in before I started out on the run. Amazing! Like clockwork, exactly what I needed. I would later learn that they almost missed the transition to get a poutine because I was too fast on the bike course and they weren't expecting me back. Had I missed them, I would have been ok with this rationale. Thanks guys!
The run started out great. Everything felt good. I got into a decent cadence and speed and ran along, knocking off kilometers in my 5:00 min/km target.
At about the 7km mark I realized that I was not the "pee yourself" type of triathlete. I took a pee break and struggled every minute to get my sweat soaked tri-suit off myself. It took about 3 mins. I was still on pace and felt like I made the right decision. I picked it up a little, likely due to the reduced weight I was carrying.
It was a few kilometers later where the run turned for the worse. As I was descending one hill, I stepped on a small tree root and my knee buckled and twisted......F*&k. For the next 11 km, I would be tormented by significant knee pain and some eventual numbing sensation that would derail my sub-5 attempt.
Here's the thing about triathlons: they are complete mind-f*#ks. Excuse my language, but its true. It doesn't matter if you're swimming, biking or running, the challenges are so widely different that you have to constantly be on your game. Focused at all times. One moment of unfocused attention. Of your mind wandering off the task for one second. Getting just a little ahead of yourself and your race can change.
I was not happy about the knee. But it happens. I could have quit. Boy oh boy did I consider it. But instead I powered through in a strategic way. What do I mean by strategic? Well, this race is one of three races this year. I could have really pushed myself for a better time and risk further injury. This was my initial reaction. I convinced myself to consider the long game. Make this more serious and the reset of your year could be in jeopardy. I didn't want that. So I took deep breaths, slowed my pace and powered through. It didn't look good. I would run a kilometer. I would walk for a min. Run a kilometer. Walk for a min. I did this for 10 km. It sucked. It went against my desire and competitive nature. But, it got me across the finish line in one piece and that's what matters.
There is no better feeling then crossing the finish line. In this race I was so very very happy to see that line. It was a tough last 10km and I just wanted to see my friends and find some ice. I entered the chute and I could feel myself smile. I knew I beat last years time. I had friends waiting for me, thankfully they are loud and can be heard from a kilometer away.
I ran down the finishing chute, listening with glee as the announcer called out my name. I crossed the line, posed for the camera and breathed a huge sigh of relief.
It was a great race. I accomplished a lot over the months leading up to it and all the hard work and dedication had paid off.
The first thing that crossed my mind after taking that last step over the white line ... "I can do this. I'm ready to tackle IRONMAN 140.6"
The grind continues.