Thursday, July 14, 2016

2016 Muskoka 70.3 Triathlon Race Report

Race Date: July 10, 2016

Race Details: 
1.9K Swim
94K Bike
21.1K Run

I haven't done this race since 2011, having done it 4 years in a row up until that point.   Each time I have done the race, I have bested my previous time and I was really hoping to do that again in 2016, despite being 5 years older and in a new age group!

I went up to Huntsville the day before the race, picking up a buddy in Barrie and heading directly to Deerhurst for a little pre-race open water swim and short run.   It was raining pretty steady the day before, so we skipped the bike and just did the registration, bike drop and headed to the hotel to chill before going for dinner later in the afternoon.

Race morning brought clear skies and a nice temperature.   Once in transition and with everything setup, I headed down to the swim start with Steve Good for our 7:10 start in the 3rd wave.   By the time we got ready and dropped our morning clothes bag off, we only had about 5 minutes to get in the water and over to the start line.

At 7:10 the horn sounded and we were off.   We headed directly into the sun, so it was pretty hard to sight in the first 10 minutes until we made the first right turn.    There was a bit of chaos, as there usually is for me, since I'm just not fast enough to get away from it all, but overall, it wasn't too bad.

On the back half of the swim, I found myself off to the left of everyone else, despite constantly swimming to the last turn buoy.   Not sure if I had the better line or if I was off course.   Either way, I had lots of clean water and just kept moving forward.   I eventually made it to exit stairs and when I stood up I saw high 30 minutes, which wasn't too bad.   My official swim time was 31:03, good for 10th overall in my 40-44 AG and a new PB at Muskoka.

Muskoka 70.3 Swim

I used the wetsuit strippers to get the wetsuit off quickly and then made the long uphill run to transition.   I quickly got my helmet on and was off on the hilly 94K bike around Lake of Bays.

I immediately starting passing lot's and lot's of people.   The plan was to hold around 260 watts throughout the entire ride.   As usual, I started off a little hot as I was in pursuit of those ahead, but I didn't feel like I was pushing beyond my limit.   I hit the lap button around every 45 minutes to track my average power and heart rate during the ride.   The first 45 minutes came in at 269 watts.

The next 45 minutes, as I got settled in, I rode 258 watts.   It was in this section that I eventually caught up with my buddies Carlos and Steve.   By this time, Steve had taken over the lead AG lead, so when I passed him, I was the new 40-44 AG leader.   Steve had been riding with a guy for a while, and when I passed him, that guy hopped in with me and together we basically finished the ride together.   I don't want to call him out for outright drafting, but I'm pretty sure if I hadn't come along, he would have been much further back when I finished.  I kept an eye on him throughout the last half of the race to make sure he wasn't sucking my wheel.   I'd say that he spent 75% of the time behind me in that last half of the ride.   We chatted a few times and he seemed like a nice dude from Australia (but later through Strava analysis, it turns out he was from NYC), so I didn't let it bother me much.   It was just good to have company for the last half.

When we turned in Baysville, I had an average speed of 37.3 kph, but I knew that was going to drop, as we hit the hills and a bit of a headwind back to Deerhurst.   In this 3rd 45 minute section, my average power dropped to 241 watts.   I purposefully decided to take the last bit easier with a high cadence to hopefully save the legs for the run.   

We eventually made our way back to Deerhurst, and my average speed for the ride dropped to 36.2 and an average power of 255 watts and normalized power of 266 watts.   The variability index of 1.043 was a little higher than what I would normally do, but with all the hills, it's pretty hard to keep it consistent for the entire ride.

I held onto first place in my AG through until the end of the ride which came in at 2:36:05, a new PB.

Muskoka 70.3 Bike

Once into T2, I pulled a stupid move and couldn't find my spot right away, as I was walking around with my bike.   Total brain fart, as I was only one section from the end of the aisle.   I eventually found it and started getting my socks and shoes on, but noticed that the headband I was going to wear (Lionel Sanders style) was nowhere to be found.   I moved a few things around, but couldn't find it.   More time lost.   Overall, I bet I wasted 30-40 seconds in T2...really dumb!!

Eventually I just grabbed my sunglasses and headed out for the run.

Once out, there was a small group of guys up ahead and I started making ground on them.    At the 2K mark, a guy went absolutely flying by me and sure enough, #41 was written on his calf.    There goes the AG win today!   I didn't recognize him, but I found out after that he won the Toronto Goodlife marathon this spring in like 2:35, so I didn't feel too bad later on.

I eventually caught up to the pack of 3 guys and we ran together for a large chunk of the race.   One fell of the pace around 8K but myself and two others stayed together all the way through town to the turnaround and back to Hwy 60.

At this point, the fatigue and effort of the day was starting to catch up with me.   The two guys (who by the way were in younger age groups, so I knew I had at least a 5 minute lead on them) started to pull away a bit and with 3K left, I'd say they had about a 100m lead on me.

The down and back up section at Cookson Bay was by far the hardest part of the race.   The downhill hurt the quads and the uphill was, well just torture.   I kept the feet moving, except for 3 seconds through the aid station to grab some pepsi, and eventually made it to the top.   A short bit more and it would be a nice downhill for a few minutes back to Deerhurst.

Once back at the resort, there was one more climb and then a flat/downhill run around transition to the finish line.   Just before entering the chute around transition, a guy in the crowd said there was someone coming up from behind and he was maybe 100 yards back.   That seemed like a lot at the time, but as I kept going around transition, people kept telling me that someone is coming up fast.   There was no way I could risk an AG spot at this point (even though I didn't know if he was actually in my AG or not), so as soon as I made the final turn down the finishing chute, I cranked it up and hit the fastest pace of the entire run by a long shot.

In the end, I did cross the line before this guy, but only by 3 seconds, and sure enough, he was in my AG, so wow!!!   that was close!!    I ended up holding onto my 2nd place in the 40-44 AG and in the end, finished 11th overall in the race (note - this was an AG only race with no pro field).   My final run time was 1:32:39, and you guessed it, another PB here at Muskoka (although this was the first time doing this new run course, which was likely a bit easier).

Muskoka 70.3 Run

My final finishing time was 1:44:52, which was an overall race PB by almost 10 minutes.

2016 Muskoka 70.3 Results

There turned out to be 5 spots awarded to my AG for the 2017 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and I decided to take the spot.   I've never been, so figured it would be cool to check it out.

So overall, pretty happy how this race turned out.   Next up is Xterra Parry Sound on July 23rd, so it's time to get back on the MTB to get ready.

Friday, July 8, 2016

2016 Mine over Matter Xterra Off road Triathlon Race Report

Race Date: June 25, 2016

Race Details: 
1000m Swim
21K Off road Mountain Bike
9.2K Trail Run

This was my first time dipping my toes into off road triathlon, and I must say, I was pretty excited.   This race was also a direct qualifier for the Xterra World Championship in Maui, Hawaii.   I'm not going to lie, I already had plans to go.   Hopefully racing, but if not, I'd planned on cheering on my buddy Steve Good who was pretty much going to make it no matter what.  

The race took place at the quarry at Kelso Conservation area in Milton at the top of the escarpment.   The swim was in the beautiful quarry, the bike on the Kelso mountain bike trails and then the run was also on the same mountain bike trails with a finish around the quarry.

I arrived pretty early and got all setup and chatted with various folks until it was go time.   

It was hot and dry leading up to the race (and has been ever since) so there was some concern the swim would be a non wetsuit, but in the end, they took the temperature at just the right spot and we were allowed to wear our suits.   

The male pros went first, then the female pros, then all AG men at 8:01.   My plan was to go out hard from the start to try and find feet and get clear of the chaos at the beginning of the swim start.   I was surprised that at 200m in, I was still stuck in a decent size group of swimmers, and I had lost contact with the feet I was hoping to stay on (Steve's).   Anyway, I kept swimming hard and eventually made my way back to the swim exit in around 15:25.   Aside from not getting the draft and pull around the course I was hoping for, the swim went ok.   

I tried to quickly get through transition, but I must say it was a bit different than a normal tri.  I put socks on for the bike and then put my MTB shoes on in T1 and ran with my bike to the mount line.

Once on the bike though, I started making my way through other athletes and this is quite a bit different than a normal tri where passing people is easy and fun.   In mountain biking, you can't just pass anywhere.   You need to find the right location and opportunity and hit it hard.   

The bike course was one short lap on the trails before coming back to transition and heading out for another longer loop.   

The ride went pretty well without many issues except I did have to stop and unclip a few times in some of the trickier sections, primarily the Rough Trade section.   I pre rode this section a week or so earlier with Steve and was ready to hit the good lines and rip through it, but when people in front of you stop and unclip, you're basically forced to do the same or crash!!

Once through this section, it was a bit easier to make passes and I continued to move through the field.   Once back to transition and starting the second longer lap, it was much more spread out.  I occasionally came across other athletes and was able to pass most when the time was right.   I felt pretty good throughout and felt like I had a good groove going on.  

I eventually made my way back to transition where I just passed my buddy Brandon Habermehl before heading in.   

Xterra Mine over Matter MTB Ride - Strava Link

T2 was a bit more like a normal tri, so this went pretty well.   Brandon and I left it together, but right away, he started to slowly pull away.

The race was pretty spread out at this point, as we made our way around the run course, which was basically similar to the first loop of the mountain bike ride (except the last 3K around the quarry).

All went well and I was feeling pretty good, pushing a decent pace.   As I exited the forest area and into the blazing sun and double track trail around the quarry, I noticed one athlete up ahead.   Eventually I caught up to him and yup, he was in my AG.   The good thing about this is that I knew he was in my AG, but he didn't know I was in his.   I found a spot where I felt like I could just drop the hammer for a bit and put in a good surge past him.   He immediately noticed that I was also in his AG and picked up the pace for sure and ran with me.   I just kept pushing pretty hard and eventually dropped him with a few K to go.   

In the end, this was a good thing, as there was no guarantee a 3rd the 40-44 AG was going to get a Maui spot.   Steve was still up ahead so I knew I had to fight to hold this spot.   I didn't know until I finished that I actually finished 2nd in the 40-44 AG and 3rd overall amateur behind Steve who took first and Brandon, who took second overall amateur but first in 35-39.

Xterra Mine over Matter Trail Run - Strava Link

I ended up finishing in 1:54:58 10th overall and 3rd amateur as mentioned.

Xterra Mine over Matter Sportstats Results

Finishing second behind Steve basically assured me of my Xterra Maui spot, as we were in the largest AG so I knew we were going to get another spot allocated to us.

Brandon Habermehl, Steve Good and myself  (top 3 amateurs 2016 Xterra Mine over Matter)

So overall, I was super happy how the race went, and that I got my Maui spot to race in October.  I am also doing the Parry Sound Xterra race with Steve, but with the spot locked up, I can go into this one relaxed and just have some fun.

2016 Xterra World Championship Bound!


Monday, June 13, 2016

2016 Woodstock Sprint Triathlon Race Report

Race Date: June 11, 2016

Race Details: 
750m Swim
20K Bike
5K Run

After a long hiatus I'm bringing my race report blog back to life.    This past weekend I raced the first event in the 2016 Multisport Canada Triathlon Series schedule at Pittock Conservation area in Woodstock, Ontario.

There was some hype about severe weather that never materialized, but the race did have some really windy conditions, and it did get a bit warm, but in such a short race, it wasn't that big of a deal.

John Salt had a short little introduction for the MSC ambassadors in transition before the race, which was cool.   Here is a shot of John and I just chilling beforehand and a shot with most of the ambassadors after the race.

I was in the 4th swim wave going off at 9:06am.   It was only my 2nd open water swim of the year, but I felt confident and thought I was going to have a decent swim.   Off the horn, somebody went off pretty quick and I didn't have time to get on their feet.  I just focused on putting out a good hard effort for several minutes and then just see who was around to hang with.   I immediately found pretty clean water and didn't have much contact out to the first turn buoy.   Once we made the turn, it was a wall of swimmers from earlier waves.   This took a bit of navigating around and I had to pull up and find some clear paths one and a while.   In addition, it was a bit choppy the whole time, as the wind was coming at us from the side.   Going out was a bit harder, as I breath to my right and the waves were hitting me in the face.

Once we made the last turn and headed back to shore, I found myself swimming alone and just trying to get the turnover up.   I thought I was going to have a decent swim time, but when I got back to shore, my garmin read something like 12:50 or so.   This was disappointing and something I need to continuously improve upon.

T1 went ok, but I did drop my goggles and swim cap and had to turnaround and pick those up.   That cost me 5 seconds!  LOL.

Onto the bike, there were a number of people at the mount line when I tried to get on, and my shoe hit the ground, but overall, no biggie.   The exit of the park is super bumpy and really slow, so you can't start hammering until you get out.

Once out, I just got down to work, but found my 88mm 3Sixty5 Cycling front wheel catching all the cross winds and it kinda made me nervous.   There were many sections where I had one hand in my aero bars and one on my base bar.   I managed about 37 kph at almost 290 watts for the north section out of the park to the first turn passing all kinds of people.   At the first turn, we got the huge tailwind and for the next 3K or so, I averaged 47kph at only 263 watts until we made the turn south to the turn around point.   Again, more cross winds as we went south and then north back to road 33.   The westerly trip on road 33 into the headwind was tough but managed to average 34.5kph at 290 watts.

The final turn back to the park was again an ordeal managing the cross winds and I got stuck behind a few slower riders in the no passing zone going down the hill and to the dismount line.   In the end I rode 31:42 at around 263 watts, but that includes the downhill and run to the transition zone.   I'd say I was close to 285 watts for the true ride.   Nobody passed me, so I was guessing I was close to the top of my AG.   There were a few bikes on the rack when I got there, but I was also mixed in with some younger and older AG's.

Strava Link Woodstock Sprint Tri Bike

A pretty quick T2 and I was out on the run course.   The first few hundred meters were a little bumpy going over a grass field, but eventually we were up on the gravel trail of years past and I was making my way past many other racers from earlier waves.   There was however one runner that I was not gaining any time on and I could tell he was older, so I was wondering if he was in my AG.   It turned out to be Chris Jocelyn, from the 45-49AG, but he was running well.   I'd say I kept the gap pretty consistent out to the turn around, but he started to pull away once we made our way back.    I creeped his results on Sportstats, and he's a solid runner, so no pride lost there.  By the time I made the turn and was headed back to the finish line, it really started to feel warm, but knowing there wasn't much left, I just kept pushing along.  My splits ended up being pretty consistent despite the rolling course on mixed terrain.

Strava Link Woodstock Sprint Tri Run

In the end, I crossed the finish line in 1:06:35 11th overall out of 345 racers and first in my 40-44 AG.

Lionel Sanders (aka the hottest 70.3 triathlete on the planet) made a special guest appearance at the race and crushed everyone.   Good thing it wasn't longer, or it would have been way worse.   He's a super nice guy and spent a tonne of time hanging out and chatting with other athletes.   Of course I had to get an obligatory photo opp with him.   This is myself and Spencer Summerfield, another MSC ambassador and 3Sixty5 athlete.

So with the first race in the books, it's time to get back to business.   My next MSC race is going to be the Kingston LC Tri.   This is one I haven't done before so I'm very much looking forward to that one.

Friday, June 27, 2014

2014 Ironman Syracuse 70.3 Race Report

Race Date: June 22, 2014

Race Details:

1.9K Swim
90K Bike
21.1K Run

I vowed after last years race, there was no way I'd be back to do this race, due to the crazy run and the gong show that was trying to leave the race site.  However, when WTC decided to hold the 2014 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mont Tremblant, CANADA, I decided I needed to find a race to do to get into this!!

Many people did Muskoka last year, but that didn't work for me since I was already doing the 2013 70.3 World Champs in Las Vegas the same weekend.   As  result, I decided to give Syracuse another shot, hoping that they would have figured out how to resolve many of the athlete complaints from 2013.   In the end, they did just that, and this race was a HUGE improvement over 2012, mostly in terms of weather, but the parking situation was also very easy this year.

I was able to recruit a buddy from Barrie to do the race with me as well, so at least I didn't have to make the trip on my own.   In the end, there were three of us who all went to Syracuse.   Myself, Carlos Vilchez from Barrie and Graham Dunn, from Kitchener, who is also on the Health & Performance team I am on.

Last year I did this race under the coaching guidance of Wolfgang Guembel, but for 2014, I am back to just doing things on my own.   I learned some good stuff from him, but I felt that I could easily do this myself again this year, incorporating much of what I learned from him into my own training.

I've been having a good year so far, setting various PB's here and there, so I was again optimistic that I could have an even better race in Syracuse this year compared to last year.   In 2013, it was hot as sh*t for the race which hurt many people's overall times.   This year the weather was looking just perfect, so I knew that was going to help too.   Race day presented sunny skies, light winds and warm, but very little humidity.

Onto the race.   I was way back in wave 16, so I started at 8:10am, a full hour and 10 minutes after the pros went off at 7am.   This sort of sucked, but also meant I'd have lots of company out on the course, and I sure did!

I was in the first of two M40-44 waves and at 8:10, the horn sounded and it was game on!   I swam pretty hard for the first 200-300m to try to get away from the main chaos that is the swim start and also to see who at that point was also going to be still with me.   My goal was then to find some feet and just let this person pull me around the race course.

This pretty much worked to a T, as I found a guy just a bit up ahead of me, so I put in a short effort and snuck right in behind him.   I was actually quite surprised how little traffic we seemed to have to swim through, despite there being hundreds and hundreds of other swimmers still out in the water from waves that started ahead of us.   I just focused on keeping the bubbles from his feet right in front of me.

At times, I thought maybe he wasn't taking the most perfect lines, but the effort was very comfortable throughout the rest of the race, so I just stayed with him and let him dictate what my swim time was going to be.

It didn't take long and the swim exit was just ahead.   When I stood up, my Garmin read low 30 something, which wasn't too bad I thought, and actually a bit faster than last year so I was pleased given I felt like I hardly did any work at all and felt great!

I quickly got my wetsuit off my torso and immediately ran to a wetsuit stripper to do the rest.   Unfortunately, I only got one instead of two, and she struggled a bit with it on my feet, but it was only a few second delay, no big deal.

My official swim time came in at 30:58 to the mat, which ended up being 21st in my AG out of 249 athletes, so off to a good start.

The run to T1 is a bit long, but given I didn't have to deal with my wetsuit, I was able to quickly get my bike stuff on, grab my bike and get going.   T1 took 2:28, which was pretty average given the size of the transition zone and that it was all on bumpy grass and that I had such a long way to run with my bike.

The bike course has a long grinding uphill in the first 18.5K, followed by a few fast descents and a bunch of other sharp climbs.   Overall, the last 60K is net downhill, which partially offsets the much slower avg. speed from the start of the race.

Nutrition wise, I stuck with my Infinite approach.   A normal concentrate in my PD aerobar bottle up front and a more concentrated solution in a bottle behind my seat.   I then took water at pretty much every aid station.   All went well.

Power wise, I was looking to go about 260-265 avg. for the race which was higher than last year, but I think I'm just a bit stronger so I thought I'd go for it if I wanted to get a podium/Worlds spot this year.

Overall, the ride could best be described as "On Your Left".   I bet I said it a hundred times, as I likely passed close to 1500 athletes who started in waves ahead of me.   The course was pretty busy with traffic from start to finish.

The first hour of the race my avg. power clocked in at 274 watts, which was a bit high I thought, but it did include the long uphill and I was feeling pretty good.

The second hour of the race came in at 263 watts, as I was able to get into a bit more of a consistent rhythm.   I was still feeling pretty good, so I continued to push on.

All was going really well until we almost got back to the race site.  There was about a 2M no pass zone, and unfortunately, I got stuck behind a female athlete who was just puttering along.   The speed went from about 42kph to about 28kph and the power in this hour segment was dropping off like a rock as I was literately coasting along.   Near the end of the no pass zone, I looked back and there was a pack of about 25 guys all shaking their head and getting frustrated.  Eventually it ended, and I pushed the pace back to the transition zone.

All said and done, I biked 2:24:46 at an average power of 263 watts, normalized power of 270 watts and an average speed of just over 37kph.   This was a very nice improvement over last year in terms of power and time (about 20 watts higher and almost 8 minutes faster).   I had the 4th fastest bike split in my AG, which actually moved me up to 4th overall in my AG starting the run.

T2 went pretty well and I was out in 1:15, only a few seconds slower than the top guys in my AG.

In order to fix the parking lot exit problem, the run course changed slightly this year.  We now had to run around the outside of the grass field before climbing a hill and getting onto Apulia Rd.   The Syracuse run course is notoriously hard, and although this change wasn't hugely significant, there's no denying that it made the course a bit harder than it already was.   It added more running on uneven bumpy grass and another fairly challenging quad burning hill climb to the already two stupid hard climbs on the course which we have to do twice.   Heck, even Jordan Rapp, multiple Ironman Champion described the Syracuse run course as "Absurd" - proof, see here.   How local Cdn kid Lionel Sanders runs a 1:09 half there boggles my mind.  It was such an awesome run, he even got his own thread on Slowtwitch.

By the time I got out on the course, most of the top pros were done their race (depressing for sure), but there were tonnes and tonnes of people out running.  The section of road on Apulia was a bit congested at times, but overall I had no issues.

When I hit the first hill, I ran about half way up before I slowed down and powerwalked for about 10m.   I did this 2 or 3 times on each hill.   I kinda of expected this, so I didn't let it discourage me.   I just find it lets the heart rate come down a bit and breaks the hill into tiny little sections.

Once at the top of the last hill, it was time to hammer back to the finish line/turn around point to repeat everything I just did all over again.   The run back went well, except for the downhill running that crushed the quads.

I don't think anyone in my AG passed me on the first lap, but not too long into the start of the second lap a guy in my AG did go flying by.   He was moving really well, so I just let him go and did my thing, trying to keep a steady pace throughout and only walk for a short amount of time on the hills.

Eventually I made my way to the top of the last hill and the turn around point, and it was mostly all downhill back to the finish line.   I was starting to feel decently tired, but the 2K "flattish" stretch along Apulia allowed me to open things up a bit.

Just before starting the final climb on Apulia to the parking lot entrance I spotted Carlos, who started 25 minutes earlier than I did.   I had seen him at various times on the run course, and was slowly gaining on him, but I was unsure if I would catch him before the finish line.

As we made our way around the parking lot section, I caught him and we ran together for a bit before I pulled away and kicked it up a bit for the last 500m or so into the finish line.

In the end I ran 1:33:31 for the run.   Not great, but not terrible either.   It was a pretty steady and consistent effort that was about 8 minutes faster than the prior year and 13th fastest in my AG.   I did lose one spot and finished 5th in my AG, which is the same spot I finished last year.   My total time was 4:32:56 which was about 18 minutes faster overall than the prior year.

Garmin Run File

Strava Run File

2014 Syracuse 70.3 Overall Results

There were 8 allocated Mont Tremblant World Championship spots in the M40-44 AG and I did take one of them.   This means I'm heading back to Tremblant in September to race.   Ideally, I want to put forth a faster time than I did when I went 4:25.   That's the goal anyway!!

So overall, I was pleased with the effort on the day, and after waiting around for a few hours to get cleaned up and our stuff out of transition, we eventually headed out and were pleasantly surprised to be able to leave the parking lot in about 2 minutes!  Much much faster than last year.

Same as last year, we headed directly to the Dinosaur BBQ for mandatory refueling for the long trip home back to Canada.

Celebratory post race dinner at the Dino BBQ

Next up for me will likely be the Multisport Belwood triathlon, before beginning some serious Ironman training leading up to both the 70.3 and Ironman World Championships this fall!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Waterloo Classic 10K Road Race 2014

This was the 2nd year in a row for doing this race.   I raced it for the first time ever last year on the H&P team.  I had a good time of 38:10 and coming in 3rd master overall.   

This year, the race took on a bit more excitement as I was on Team Mike.   Read more about the different teams and the draft process here H&P Waterloo Classic Results 

I was definitely shooting for a time close to 37:30.   This wouldn't be a PB, but certainly a good time on this course, which has it's fair share of hills.

It was a beautiful day, which allowed all the runners to warm up outside on and inside the track at Waterloo stadium.

The race kicked off at 9am and it was a huge sprint for the 50m down the track before making a sharp turn through the gates before hitting the roads of Waterloo.

The pace was fast and I was doing my best to keep fellow H&P teammate Greg Dyce in my sites, as he was the one I was lined up against against the other H&P team, Team Dave.

After the first 3K of the race, my average pace was pretty much around 3:30/K, which is pretty darn quick for me, and I was pretty surprised at this point.   The pace felt challenging, but I really wanted to push myself today to see just what I could do.

I went through the 5K point in 17:40, which would be a new 5K pb for me, but if it's not in an actual 5K race, it doesn't seem to count!   Just past the 5K mark, I passed a fellow H&P runner Ahmed Ahmed, who was actually drafted ahead of me in the team draft, so that was encouraging.

At about the 6K mark, the same runner (Gigantor) that I battled with at the Waterloo Half Marathon caught and passed me.  I tried to stay with him, but he was just going a bit faster than I seemed to be able to go today, and he slowly pulled away as we crested the hill on Westmount.

As we approached the turnaround point for the 10K I could see where I was overall.  I figured I was in about 12th overall, and judging by the athletes I saw coming back, I thought I was the top master runner.

Unfortunately, as we got back to the top of the hill, another runner caught me, and I was definitely a master runner, so I knew I had to stay with him.   I did just that pretty much all the way back to the 9K mark, where he ever so slowly inched away.   I know I was going to be disappointed if I lost to him at this point, but I can say 100% that I was going as hard as I could (I think!).

Only about 600m left in the race
As we got back to the track, it was only 350m to the finish, but we had to dodge, duck and dive around the slower 5K runners still finishing their race.

I pushed hard, but could not reel in Mark Meyers, who finished as the top master.   I crossed the line only 3 seconds after him in 36:46, which was a new 10K pb for me and was much better than my 37:30 goal time.   I ended up 13th overall and second master which allowed me to take home the $75 cash prize for that, which was a sweet bonus!

As far at the MikeVsDave H&P team battle, Team Mike lost by only 10 seconds overall, which is the combined time for the top 5 athletes on each team.   Man, that was close.

After the race, I chatted with all the members of the team, had some food, did the awards thing and headed home pleased with my result.  The following weekend I headed to Syracuse to the the Ironman Syracuse 70.3 for the second year in a row.   See my next blog post on how this race went (hint, it went well!!)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

2014 Woodstock Sprint Triathlon Race Report - May 25, 2014

Race Details:

750m Swim
20K Bike
5K Run

Last year when I did this race, it was close to freezing when I left my house.   This year, the air temperature was warmer for sure, but because of the cold winter and spring, the water temp was still only 59 or 60F.

After arriving at Pittock Conservation area, I quickly got myself organized and did a short ride/run to warm up and then got my wetsuit on and made my way to the chilly waters.

After getting in the water, it was indeed cold, but it was such a nice sunny day, I knew it wasn't going to be too bad.   I did a short swim and got some water in the wetsuit to adjust things up a bit and then waited for my wave to kick off at 9:08, which was the 3rd wave of the day.

When the horn blew, I tried to put in a good effort to get some space, but this only moderately worked.   I still fond people grabbing my legs and bumping up against me for likely a few hundred meters.   I found the water so murky that I couldn't keep in good contact with other swimmers around me, so drafting wasn't working all that well.

I eventually made it to the first turn buoy and started running into slower swimmers from other waves.   After rounding the last turn buoy, I made a push back to shore and when I was finally able to stand up, my Garmin said 12:00 right on.   This was a bit disappointing, as I was hoping to be around 11:30 or so, which is what I believe I did last year.   It's always hard to tell in the swim if the distance is exactly the same, but overall, I was in a decent position, as I don't think there were too many white caps around me as I was coming back.   It turns out I had the 4th fastest swim in my AG race day.  I think the colder water slowed most people down a bit.

Swim exit
Into T1, and I think I did a decent job.   I had a bit of a struggle getting my wetsuit off my left arm, but I did get it before I got to my bike.   I didn't have too many issues getting my wetsuit off either, so it wasn't too bad.   In the end, T1 took 59 seconds.   How the fast guys manage to get in and out in less than 40 seconds is amazing to me.

Onto the bike, we once again had the tricky run to the mount line and then a slow and rough climb out of the park.   I waited until we were completely out of the park before I slipped into my bike shoes.

Once in, I started hammering!!   The first 3K is mostly uphill, and the watts were pretty close to 300 at this point.   We faced a mostly cross wind going up this stretch to country road 33.   Once on county road 33, we enjoyed a fast tailwind, but the road surface wasn't great.   I continued passing lots and lots of other racers at through this stretch.

A few K down the road, we made a right turn and had a fairly fast and smooth trip down to the turn-around point at 10K.   After the turn, it was back into a slight headwind/cross and I continued to make my way through the field, holding about 290 watts or so on average.   I was able to pretty much hold those watts all the way back to the park, which was good to see.

Heading out on the bike
Once back at the conservation site, it was a no pass zone to the mount line, so we had to take things fairly easy down the hill and around the corners, as there was still quite a bit of gravel on the roads also.   I stopped my garmin just before the mount line this year, to get a better reading for the bike portion of the race.   Here is the Strava ride file for the race.   It was good to see that absolutely zero people passed me on the bike, and that I had the fastest bike split in my AG (32:16) and 10th fastest in the entire race.

2014 Woodstock Sprint Tri Bike File

T2 went fairly well and I was in and out in 37 seconds.   One of the fastest in my AG.

I started the run with the weird feeling in my feet like I had last year.   It felt sort of like my insoles were bunched up, but at least it went away quickly.   

The first K of the run is on some loose gravel trails, uphill slightly and into the wind.   I pushed pretty hard to make sure I got a good start and the first K went by in 3:58 and I was feeling better as the run went along.

At this point, I was seeing lot's of the elite guys from the first wave coming back and I was watching the legs on the guys I was passing to see if anyone was in my AG.   I didn't see anyone in my AG the entire run, so I was taking this as a good sign.   This year, there wasn't anyone on the run that passed me either.

Last year, the turn-around was slightly long, but this year it seemed like it was bang on.   On the return trip to the park, I tried picking up the pace a bit and with only 1K to go, I pretty much put it all out there and finished the last K with a 3:45 average.   I crossed the finish in 1:05:47 and a final run time of 19:28 for the 5K.   My finishing time was just under 2.5 minutes faster than last year which was good to see.   The better weather played a big part of that, but I did have a faster overall bike and run this year compared to last.

Finishing up the run

2014 Woodstock Sprint Tri Run File

After finishing I grabbed some chocolate milk and food and chatted with a few other racers before checking results.   In the end, I finished 2nd overall in the M40-44 AG and 16th overall in the race which was an improvement over last year.

2014 Woodstock Sprint Triathlon Overall Results

40-44 AG Podium
As this was the first triathlon of the year around this area, the competition in Woodstock was pretty high.   The top two finishers in the race are totally capable of podium spots in most 70.3 races around the world.

Up next is the Waterloo Classic with my H&P teammates.   This one is going to be a good time for sure!!   Then I am doing Syracuse 70.3 again on June 22nd in hopes of grabbing a Mont Tremblant 70.3 World Championship spot.   So far so good though!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Baden 7 Mile Road Race - May 10, 2014 Race Report

This race was previously the New Hamburg Classic prior to being taken over by the Run Waterloo series.   I always put it on the schedule since it is a home town event for me.

The course changed slightly this year, making it a bit more challenging and running to the top of the Baden aerial tower, which is supposedly the highest point in Southwestern Ontario (but I couldn't confirm this on the internet).   

The view to the top of the aerial tower.   A short 200m climb at approx. 20% grade
What I can confirm though is that the view at the top is pretty spectacular.   This was more easily confirmed the weekend before the race when a bunch of us did a few practice runs on the course.   On race day, I wasn't trying to take in much of the scenery!

The race started back at the Wilmot Rec Centre (WRC) just past 9:30am.   We had a pretty large group of Health & Performance runners doing a mix of the 7 miler and the 5K.   In addition, my son Holden was doing his third 5K race of the spring.   Here are a few shots of the start.

Holden is on the far right in the orange

Cool shot of Holden jumping the curb to stay in the mix and of course H&P coach Sean leading everyone out at a blistering pace

The race headed around the WRC before heading out on Gingerich road and taking a straight shot to the aerial tower.  Wrapping around the WRC, I found myself in about 7th or 8th place, but the start was a combination of both the 7 miler and the 5K, so I wasn't sure exactly where I stood in the 7 miler which I was doing.

I quickly found myself running with fellow H&P runner Greg Dyce.   I was pretty sure he was doing the 7 miler, so I was thinking this was ideal, knowing I was really hoping to be running with someone on the way back, given the windy conditions on the day and the fact that we had a tailwind out and massive headwind coming back.

Leaving the WRC and ripping down Gingerich Rd.
The wind was howling out of the west on race morning, so we had a tailwind going out (which by the way, never helps you as much as a headwind slows you down!) and a big headwind coming back.

Just past the 1k mark of the race, we enjoyed a fast downhill section to Foundry St. in Baden.   At this point, we were all amazed how much of a lead coach Sean had in the 5K.   He reached the 5K point way ahead of everyone and at a blistering pace of 3:10 or so.   Crazy!

Once our group hit the 5K turn around, it became clear where everyone stood in the 7 mile race.   After a few more people made the turn, I learned I was in 4th place in the 7 miler, just a few steps behind Greg, which was perfect.   To this point, our pace was about 3:42/km, but we now faced a pretty much non-stop uphill run to the top of the tower hill.   It was a gradual climb for the most part, with a short little hill to get to the tower hill driveway off of Synder's Rd.   Here are some more cool shots on the way out to the tower hill.

I see quite a few H&P singlets at the front of this race

Trying to keep a steady pace

Working with Greg Dyce, just a few steps behind him

After making the climb up Synder's Rd, we made a 180 degree turn onto the driveway which took the runners to the top of the tower hill.   This was a gravel driveway and it was a bit soft in spots.

Part of the race was a race "Prime" for the fastest uphill/downhill part of the steepest climb.   The timing mat was right before we started the big haul up the hill.   Going up the hill, I just tried to stay with Greg and keep the feet turning over.   At the top, the race organizers had a 65+ pound cast iron bell that we could ring to symbolize our accomplishment of reaching the top!   It was super cool, but when I got to the top, my legs were almost quivering from the effort.    Here's some more cool shots of the hill climb.


The PAIN!!!

The cast iron BELL!!

The "I'm not sure I can feel my legs anymore!!!"

Tonnes and tonnes of blue and white H&P!!

Out of control on the DOWNHILL!!
Now that the hill was done, we now had to deal with 40kph head and cross winds on the 5.5K trip back to the WRC.   When we got back to Synder's Rd, Greg, myself and another runner were all very close.   At the top of the hill, I could see the runner that was in 2nd place for the first half slowing down just a bit and Greg was going to sit on his shoulder to freshen up.   I made a decision that we needed to make our move now, so I ran up to him and tapped him on the back and said "Let's Go", and off we went speeding down the hill towards Baden.

This strategy seemed to work really well.   We each took turns blocking each other from the wind for 500m stretches at a time approximately.   By the time we got back to Foundry, we had a decent 100m or so lead over the next runner.

The climb back up Gingerich at Erb Transport was tough!   Into a big headwind and up a hill.   Our pace slowed a bit obviously, but I wasn't feeling too trashed at that point, so I just kept working with Greg.   Once past the roundabout at the top of the hill, I knew we would be sheltered from the wind a bit because of the trees, so I tried picking up the pace to see where Greg was at.

Once we came around the corner and hit the wind again, I decided I would just give it what I had, and see what happens.   It was at this point that I started to pull ahead from Greg, so I just carried on hoping I wouldn't lose a sprint finish like I did at the Waterloo half marathon.

The finish of the race (as seen below) was inside the arena.   Just before entering, I made a quick check to see where Greg was at, but it looked like I had second place locked up and crossed the line in 43:52, 2nd overall and first in my AG.

So overall, I was pretty happy with the results. 

Holden did well in his 5K coming in with a time of 24:19 and 3rd place in the under 12 category.

With Ken MacAlpine, the 7 miler winner
Holden in the U 12 category (he's only 10, so big things to come from him!)
Congrats to the Run Waterloo group for putting together a great race!  The first of many Baden Road Races!   Up next for me is the first triathlon of the season in Woodstock on May 25th.   I hope the ice is all out of the water by then!!