Monday, August 26, 2013

Peace River Sprint

What an incredible race! I forgot how much fun a sprint race can be and I had an amazing time. I basically strong-armed all my friends into doing this race and I'm glad I did, there were 8 guys that beat the time of last year's winner. There was such a stacked field that all the race organizers were blown away by the times and the competition there. I knew going into it that I wasn't going to be able to bike as fast as Joe and I was right he easily put 2 minutes on me which is impossible to make up in a sprint. It was great to have him there he kept me focused on the bike and pushing the entire race. I set a new PR for a sprint which is all I wanted to do, I beat 36 year old me which I thought was impossible after turning 40.

I don't think I've ever devoted so much time and energy into training for and racing a sprint but all my buddies were so excited for this race that it became contagious. We did two swim- bike- runs all at the sprint distance on the Saturdays leading up to the event and training seemed to be going really well. Unfortunately we woke up on race morning to spitting rain and wet roads... ugh. Well you can't control the weather so I just packed up and headed to the race start. I have taken a spill on a rainy race before so I was very cognizant of staying under control through all the turns on the bike.

The swim was really great, I led our heat and had an opportunity to keep the pace high and managed to lap the other 3 guys once or twice in the 750m. I was quite surprised to find out later I had the 2nd fastest swim of 11:27 behind a really fast young guy from Ft. St. John who swam a 10:03. I couldn't believe I beat the times of some incredible swimmers from GP, Steve, Joe, and Richard have always swam faster than me so it shocked me in a good way.

When I started riding I could tell something didn't feel right immediately. I was holding a 162-163 HR and my power seemed to be okay but I just wasn't getting the speed I should have been for that type of effort. I'm not sure if it was the cooler weather or not warming up the legs beforehand but I didn't have the ride I was hoping for. I took a look at my Garmin data afterwards and I was pushing hard the entire ride, there really was no where I could have gained any additional time so I know I gave it everything I had. I saw Joe pass me about 3/4 of the way through the first lap and I tried to keep him in sight for as long as possible. I could see him in the distance for most of the second bike loop which helped maintain my focus. My average power was 247W which is very high for me any higher and I wouldn't have been able to run after. I had the 2nd fastest bike time of 31:39 at an average of about 38km/hr.

I started the run and my legs were absolute concrete, I was running but felt like I was just shuffling. I could see Joe in the distance making the first turn so I was pushing as hard as I could to catch him but we were running at pretty much the same pace. When I thought I was gaining on him it was only a few meters and it was too late, my legs didn't start coming around until 2.5k and I knew that he had me. That being said my goal was to beat my 2009 time of 1:02.17 which I did by 1:20 giving me the fastest run time of 17:52 and a total time of 1:00.57. Fantastic race for me and I'm glad I had a group of great guys keeping me pushing hard for the full hour. The nice thing about a sprint is it's over by 10am and we had time for coffee and lunch before heading back home.

Well that wraps up my 2013 season, great to have completed an Ironman, 1/2 Ironman, and a Sprint race all in one year. I'm looking forward to spending more time with Amber and Ryder next year so I might just keep it short distance. The training isn't as time intensive and I can still feel like I'm active and healthy which is one of the things I love about this sport.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sprint Training

It's really strange having your season go from Ironman, to 1/2 Ironman, to Sprint training and I'm not sure my body knows what's going on. The tough part is that I was really beat up after IM CdA and I needed some down time but there is really not a lot of time to heal up before I needed to start again for Calgary 70.3. At Calgary I went really hard and again I needed some down time before I could do anything, fortunately a week off and a week easy seems to have done the trick. Now I just have a small Sprint Tri in Peace River and then the season is over and I can get some deep rest and recovery. It has been really nice not having the pressure of Ironman training over my head and being able to spend more time with Ryder and Amber. Last Saturday I told Amber I was doing a swim-bike-run with a couple guys on Saturday and I'd be finished everything by about 10am! That never happens prepping for most races, but we did a 750m swim, 20k bike and 5k run and had time for coffee and the rest of the day to hang out with family.

 So far last week I've done 3 days where I swam, biked and ran all on the same day and I feel really good. The body is not breaking down, I'm not dealing with a lot of injuries, I can have a lot of time with family and I feel like I've accomplished something that day. I'm really pleased with how my swim has developed this year, my biking is still fairly strong the only area I know I could improve has been my running but dealing with some of the calf issues I've had I think I'm still running strong. I expected to run a 1:20 or less in Calgary but I was only running one day a week leading up to it so I'm not surprised I ran a 1:24 and I'm very happy with that time.

Peace River is looking to be a very competitive race, so far I know of 6 other guys that are going and are capable of beating the time of last year's winner (1:07). The last time I did this race I had a 1:02.17 time and I'm looking to go faster this year. Robert and I have been focusing on true 'sprint' training and I'm hoping the 20 minute all out bike rides and 5k fast runs will pay off. On an ideal day I feel like I could go sub-12 on the swim (including transition), sub-30 on the bike (including transition) and sub-18 on the run breaking the one hour barrier. The only really question mark is going to be the bike, there are a lot of turns on the two loop course and I'm going to have to keep my speed up to average over 40km/hr. I can do it on a straight out and back but this will be more like a criterium than a time trial, we'll have to see.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Ironman Calgary 70.3

Me and Kevin pre-race
I think it's no surprise to anyone who knows me that I didn't quite have the race I was looking for at Coeur d'Alene. After all the hard months of training one stupid mistake can really cost you, I didn't practice with elastic laces and they crushed my feet throughout the whole run. That's all a part of racing and I tell everyone if you race long enough you are going to run into every situation possible, the trick is to not let it get you down and come back to the next race stronger and faster than ever. So after months of Ironman training under my belt I was hoping to use that endurance base and build in some speed for Calgary 70.3. The training was going really well until I suffered a really bad calf cramp and couldn't run for the weeks leading up to the event. I wasn't all that worried about having a bad run, I know I can suffer through a 1/2 marathon but I needed to be healthy going into the event. Thanks to a lot of Graston and A.R.T. for getting the kinks worked out and if anyone has done those, you know that it's like putting your legs through a meat tenderizer- not fun.

The week before the race I wanted to do a swim-bike race simulation and Robert was on board with the bike but he was not up for the swim before. No worries I swam with Steve at a steady 1:30/100m pace for 2kms and jumped out to join the boys for a tough 90k. I didn't know how tough until Robert decided to drop the hammer right off the start and  leave us all in the dust but I put my head down and was pushing 350 watts to catch up to him. I did end up catching but shortly after got a flat... ugh. Quick change and we were back to hammering again although this time we were drafting back and forth and managed to keep the heart rates very high, this was definitely a race simulation ride for me although I doubted I could run afterwards. As we approached the turn around I got another flat so we decided to head back, we had no spares and I was going cross-eyed from the effort. Another 40k of hard riding and we were back at the Multiplex and I was so tired I could barely get my bike on the roof. I thought, 'wow I'm definitely going to have to pace myself well on the bike to be able to run in Calgary.' Even though I hadn't been running much before the race I did do a slower (1:26) 21k and I felt great, I knew that I could run faster but I wanted to not stress the calf and the run in Calgary was a lot harder. While in Calgary I had a great time hanging out with Amber, Ryder, some family and friends and I think this is why I love racing. Sure the race itself was a great event but having time away from work and just being with family makes it all the more enjoyable. I don't need a race to do that of course but having a race adds to the overall enjoyment of the trip and it gives us a good reason to drive 8hrs to Calgary.

Me with the two Vegas bound athletes Kevin and Doug
The race venue had changed from Ghost Lake to MacKenzie Lake in south Calgary and I have to say it was a welcome change. MacKenzie Lake was so nice to swim in and one full lap of it is 1.9k so it was perfect. Not only that but you didn't have to run up a steep hill to get to the bike racks like at Ghost Lake, I can't imagine that after swimming hard for 30 minutes. I did all the pre-race rituals, tires, bottles, bathroom, bag drop and headed to the start. I put myself to the left of the pack at about the 2nd row. The pros went and before I realized it we were off! The start was the usual ciaos but I stayed calm and only got hit a couple times. The first turn buoy was a difficult one because you had to turn about 130 degrees, almost a U-turn but by then the crowd had thinned out and I was just looking for someone else's feet. I had a few hundred metres on my own until I finally found someone but got a good draft for most of the 2nd half. The tunnel in Mackenzie Lake is really cool and it was a lot of fun swimming there again, Amber and I used to practice swim there all the time when we first met and it reminded me of the pre-Ironman open water swims we used to do. As I headed through transition I was really happy to see 28:31 on my watch, a great swim for me and I ended up being 41st out of the water, not bad for a non-swimmer.

The ride was great- I tried to ease into it but during a half there is really not a lot of time to waste. The slow steady incline all the way out to Bragg Creek was starting to wear on me, I was hoping to go a lot faster but I was pushing as hard as I knew I could without burning out my legs. I had a group of about 6-8 guys blow by me and I thought about hanging on but I saw draft marshalls around me all day and I was paranoid about getting a penalty. I don't know if any of them got a penalty but they definitely should have, they were grouped together like a tour pack. I finally got to Bragg Creek and was a little disappointed to see 1:28 for the first 45k but I was confident I could make up a lot of time on the way back and I did. The ride was short of the 90k official distance but I was just happy to start the run in under 3 hours. I finished the ride in 2:26.21 including transitions and now I was in my element.

Starting the run
As soon as I started the run it felt like someone was stabbing my quads with knives but I told myself this is just that 'getting off the bike' tightness and in a couple kms it'll subside. Unfortunately it didn't subside and I had that feeling the entire run. I still tried to hold a strong pace and right off the start I passed about 6 guys within the first 2kms. We went down into the weaselhead and I hit the first hill, it was a grind but I made it up and started to see some incredibly fast pros going the other way. Tim Don is a monster and he was just hammering the entire run, absolutely burying himself for the win. I had seen him in a couple ITU races and he looked fast but in comparison to the other ITU guys normal here he was just making everyone look slow. I kept my pace up until the turn-around and I started to catch this one guy who asked me if we were in the same age group, he was 33 so I promptly said no and he either found another gear to hang on to me or I slowed down because there were no more rabbits to catch. We ran together most of the way back but when we hit the 2nd hill I started to fade badly. I knew it would be difficult to hold on at that pace for the full 21k but I was just hoping the breakdown would come close enough to the finish that I could sprint it out. We climbed the hill but he got a little gap on me and the next thing I knew 10m turned into 30m and I was just struggling to keep my legs turning over. The stabbing quads remained and how there was a stabbing diaphragm as well. I slowed for the final 3-4kms, it was close enough to the finish I tried to stay with it mentally but at that point 12 minutes of running was excruciating. I was thinking 3 minutes of running was no longer possible. I took it km by km and slowly grinded towards the finish, there was a 610m to go mark on the road and I actually had the thought that I might not make it but I didn't want to start walking in front of everyone so I just did what I could and I felt like I was crawling to the finish. I was very happy to have pulled off a 1:24.05 run and a 4:18.57 final time for 3rd in my age and 27th overall!
Suffering at the finish
After the race I went up to Amber and hugged and had a picture taken with her and then I found a grassy area where I laid there for a very long time. I went to a place in this race that I haven't been to in a long, long time- Ironman Canada 2011- and I'm ecstatic that I got the race I was hoping for in 2013. My legs took a very long time to recover and even 5 days later I still have some residual soreness. I have to thank Amber for being such a great support throughout this year, I love you very much for all you've done to keep your family happy and healthy. Also a big congrats to Kevin and Doug who both qualified for the 70.3 Ironman World Championships in Vegas! Amber is the ultimate coach both of her Speed Revolution athletes are in Vegas!! Awesome!!
My biggest supporter, thank you babe