Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Waterloo EndurRace 5K - April 12, 2014 Race Report

After the long cold winter, it was great to see warm conditions for this local race.   Unlike most races, it started at 6pm up in Elimira, instead of the normal morning start.   This meant I had to watch what and when I ate my food on Saturday so that I didn't start the race with much in my stomach, which would not have gone well.

Once again, I was racing on the Health and Performance Open team, as well as the Parent/Child division with my 10 year old son Holden.

We got to the race site about 45 minutes before the start, so Holden and I did a bit of warming up prior to getting to the starting line.

With Holden at the start

My wife Deanna was at the start, so she got some video of the race start as well.


When the gun went off, it was crazy to see how many people sprint off like they're doing a 100m race.   After a few hundred meters, I was likely still in about 20th or so overall, but slowly but surely started passing these sprinters as they ran out of gas.

Mike Piazza, also from Health and Performance was doing a great job of sticking with me, as we went through the first kilometer in about 3:32 (even though I did hear him say yikes or something like that after we heard the time from the volunteer yelling them out).  

Luke and Mike moving through the field
By now, we were in the top ten and were still moving steadily past other runners.

Just before the 2nd kilometer marker, I made my move past another runner into 3rd overall in the race.  

Not long after that, I got a bit of a stitch in my side, which isn't surprising given the fact that I was running much faster than I normally do, except when doing intervals.   Luckily, it didn't last long.

From here on in, I had a nice young lady on a bicycle basically pace me around the course through until the finish.  

The final push to the finish line
 I held my 3rd place spot right to the end, and crossed the line in 18:12, which is a new PB for me at this race distance.   Holden also had a great race finishing in about 23 minutes, which was good enough for us to secure the Parent / Child team race also.   Here's a great shot of Holden finishing up his race.   Awesome form.  If only he trained!

Holden has great form sprinting to the line!

Holden and I winning the Parent / Child team event

Our Health and Performance team also won the Open division (only one team though), but I think anyone else would have been hard pressed to beat us.   Our top 5 runners were all under 20 minutes and our top 3 under 19.   We had 3 of the top 6 overall finishers!   Solid team effort for sure!

Next up is the second part of this race, the 8K run April 26th.   There are awards for the fastest combined time between the 5K and 8K.   I hope to have another decent run there.  

The next morning I am doing the Waterloo Half Marathon, so that should be interesting.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Waterloo ReFridgeEighter 8 Mile Road Race - February 23, 2014 Race Report

With not much else going on in the winter, I usually try to get this local race on the schedule.

Race morning was chilly, but at least the roads were dry and it was nice and sunny.   The wind wasn't too strong, but definitely blowing enough to make the headwind quite a painful experience when I was warming up.

As usual, the race started and ended at RIM (aka Blackberry) park in Waterloo.   I arrived about an hour early to get setup, warmed up and chat with my Health and Performance teammates.   Also happening this morning was the 2014 Olympic Men’s Gold Medal Hockey game in which Canada won, shortly before the race got under way!  Sweet!

The race got under way right at 10am and right from the gun, there were several runners flying up the road.   Since the 8K, 8M and 3K race all started at the same time, I had no idea who was ahead of me at this point.

Early on, I found myself running with a few other H&P teammates.   We went through the first K in about 3:45 and the first mile in around 5:45.   This was about the pace I would have started off the 8K race, so I wasn't sure how long I would be able to hold on to this pace, but running with the wind and into the sun felt pretty good, so I just stayed with it.

About 2.5 K into the race, we had to get off of University and make the first climb up Lexington, which felt like it slowed the pace down a bit as expected.

Once we turned right off of Lexington onto Bridge, we were heading north and into the wind.   This section was definitely colder, but luckily, we only had to run about a K or so until the 8 mile racers turned right and wound their way through subdivision streets back over to University.

After this turn, I could finally see who I was running against, as the 8K runners just kept on going straight up Bridge.   Unfortunately for me, the closest 8 mile racers were several hundred metres up the road, so I found myself running solo at this point.  

Once I got back to University, we were once again running the same route that we started with.  At this time though however, I found myself actually feeling quite overdressed, as the wind was at our backs and the sun in our face.   I knew this wouldn't last too long, so it didn't bother me much.

By now I could tell I was gaining some ground on the next 8 mile runner ahead of me which turned out to be another H&P runner.  I got to within about 20 or 30 metres of him, but could never get much closer than this.  

Just past the turn off I began passing many of these 8K runners as we approached Northfield.   Once turning right onto Northfield, it was quite a bit easier, as the wind wasn't in our face and we faced a bit of a downhill back to University Ave.   I was still trying hard to catch the other 8M runner ahead of me, but he did a really good job of just keeping ahead of me.

It was great turning back onto University, as we got the wind on our backs and sun on our face for the final couple K back to the finish line.   I pushed hard through this section trying to catch what turned out to be the 2nd place finisher in the 8M race and past many of the 8K runners.  Once we made the final turn back onto Millennium Blvd. the 2nd place seemed to pull ahead and I knew I wasn’t going to catch him.

After making the final turn to the finish, I picked up the pace again and finished with a pretty good time of 48:42 for the 8 miler and 3rd place overall.

Our Health & Performance team made a clean sweep of both the 8K and 8M corporate divisions.  

So as I get older, it's great to see that I can still set PB's.   In fact, a lot of people set PB's in this race.    So just because it's cold outside, doesn't mean you can't still run FAST!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

TrainerRoad Overview

In a nutshell, TrainerRoad is a software program that links up to a few gadgets on your bike that can give you virtual power indoors when you don't have a power meter.   If you already have a power meter that is Ant+ compatible, it will read directly from it.  

A power meter is something that measures the amount of work you are doing while riding your bike.  If you need it explained in a lot more detail, read this -> Everything you ever wanted to know about Power Meters

The TrainerRoad website does a great job of explaining how everything works in these two links:

1 - How TrainerRoad Works

2 - Getting Started with TrainerRoad

I'm not going to get into a huge review of the system, as it has already been done by some of the best out there:

DC Rainmaker's Inside Look at TrainerRoad (a little older, but still good)

TriRig's Review of TrainerRoad

Both of these guys do an awesome job of covering the features that TrainerRoad has to offer with cool pictures and everything.   I can't add much more on top of that.   The ability to use TrainerRoad while watching television, a movie, Netflix or many other types of indoor cycling videos (Sufferfest, Spinervals, Epic Planet, 3LC) make the program even that much better.   Most of the time though, I don't watch anything, and just listen to some awesome music! (Velobeats, 8 Track or any of your favorites)!

Here is what I can tell you.   If you are going to ride indoors in the winter, or heck any time of the year, you should be using this program.   Sure, if you already have a Computrainer and ERG videos available to you, then you may not need this.   But if you only have a Computrainer, you can still link up to TrainerRoad for the workouts.

Using TrainerRoad makes your workouts significantly more structured, effective and overall, a lot more fun (if you can call suffering on your bike fun!!!).   Either way, the time will go by much faster using the TrainerRoad software instead of just pedaling along on your own attempting to get a workout done.

As for the results, there is not one person out there that can't say they have improved, using TrainerRoad.   Most of the feedback I see is people saying they have improved A LOT!!!

Personally, I know that I have.   My first FTP test that I did using the software resulted in an FTP (Functional Threshold Power) of 279 back in November 2011.   Fast forward a little over two years, and about 160 workouts later, my latest FTP test using the Sufferfest video Rubber Glove while doing the 2014 version of the Tour of Sufferlandria provided me with a new value of 310.   Given I started at a pretty high level to begin with, that is a pretty good improvement and I am quite happy with it!

I contacted TrainerRoad to see if I could be an ambassador for their program and they said yes.    As a result, I have some sweet promo codes I can distribute that will get you one month free (a $10 value) of TrainerRoad access.   Just drop me a line and I can pass them along.

If you haven't tried it yet, you should!!  I guarantee you won't regret it....unless you DON'T want to get stronger and faster on your bike this year!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 By the Numbers......

2013 was a slightly different year for me.   For the most part, I had a coach for the whole year, which was a first for me.   I wouldn't say it was a dramatically different change in training, but I certainly did some things different than what I had done on my own in the past.   The number one thing that changed was the approach to doing intervals on the bike all year long, and not just in the winter on the trainer.  

In 2013, I did some of the same races I did in 2012, and I believe I showed some slight improvement over last year.   I also did a number of other events that I had not done before, and that made the year a bit more interesting.

My A race in 2013 was Ironman Arizona in November.   This made for a slightly longer than normal season, but I am happy to say I achieved my #1 goal, and that was to get another chance at going back to Kona.   I did this by posting an Ironman PB of 9:24 at Arizona.

All my race reports are here on my blog, so if you want to know how any of the below races went in more detail, check them out.   Here is how 2013 played out:

  • 2nd place in AG (6th overall) at the Re-Fridge-Eighter 8M road race in Waterloo (1st place corporate with H&P);
  • A top 10 AG finish and my second sub 2 hour (gold medal and PB) finish at the Around the Bay 30K road race in Hamilton;
  • 3rd place overall at the Hamburger Hill 7 mile road race here in New Hamburg;
  • An AG win (8th place overall) at Victoria's Duathlon in Waterloo;
  • An AG win at the Woodstock sprint triathlon;
  • 3rd in AG at the Waterloo Classic 10K Road Race (1st place corporate with H&P);
  • 5th place in my AG at the Ironman Syracuse 70.3 (and 70.3 World Championship qualification);
  • An AG win and 3rd place overall at the Belwood Triathlon;
  • 2nd place overall in the 3rd stage of the EndurRun, a 30K trail race at Bechtal Park in Waterloo (part of the H&P Men's team);
  • 36th in AG (top 15%) at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Henderson, Nevada;
  • 7th place in my AG and a personal best time of 9:24 at Ironman Arizona (65th overall) and my second Kona Ironman World Championship slot secured!

I said this last year, but none of this came without a lot of training and commitment to the sport.   Without the support of my awesome wife Deanna, I am certain none of this would have been possible.   She's been awesome!

The summary below shows the training breakdown that goes into all three sports.   In addition, the focus on strength training throughout the year goes a long way to keeping me "mostly" healthy and injury free.   I had slightly less volume than I did in 2012 (via less overall workouts), but the intensity of many of the workouts was likely slightly higher.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ironman Arizona Race Report – November 17, 2013

Race Details:
3.8K Swim
180K Bike
42.2K Run

In a nutshell, this was a pretty good race, but far from a perfect race.   It started off a bit of a disaster when I was putting my bike together the day we arrived in Arizona.   A small piece of aluminum in the fork snapped, which meant I couldn't attach my aerobars and left me in a bit of a panic.   I quickly called some shops and actually found one that carried Argon 18's about 30 minutes away from the hotel.   I was travelling with Brian and Cynthia Scott from Waterloo, so that meant we all packed into our van with my bike and were off to see what could be done.

In the end, everything worked out great.   Argon was super awesome in having a warranty replacement fork overnight-ed to the shop in Scottsdale which arrived Friday morning.   The shop, Airpark Bikes, did a great job of getting the new fork on and I picked my bike up Friday night and put it together.

Saturday morning, the day of bike check-in, I did a short 20 minute ride to make sure everything was ok, which it was, so I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders, the day before the race.

Dropping off the bike (with new fork) in transition
I was up at 4am race morning to get some food in me, which consisted of some oatmeal, coffee, half a bagel and a protein drink.   At 5:15 we all headed to the race site, which was already very busy prior to the 7am race start time.

I quickly got everything setup in transition and made my way to the very long port-o-potty lines.  Without any time to spare, I dropped my morning clothes bag off, finished up with my wetsuit and made my way to the lines waiting to jump in Tempe Town Lake.   There was a lot of talk about the water temperature, but after jumping in, I found it just fine.   The clarity of the water on the other hand was the exact opposite.   You could barely see your hand in front of your face in the water.

Near the start at Tempe Town Lake.   Notice the beautiful water color
I swam over to the start line and had only about 5-10 minutes before the start of the race.   As per instruction from my coach, I started over to right, about 10 or so meters away from the wall, pretty much right at the front.   At 7am sharp, the gun sounded, and a very long day had begun.

The start of the race had the usual full body contact sort of action, but this came as no surprise, given it was a mass swim start.   I was actually pleasantly surprised to find that it didn't last too long before I could actually get some open water and begin something that appeared like a normal swim stroke.   It was at this point that I thought I might have a shot at an hour swim time.

Not long after this though, the contact began to pick up again, and this time, it felt like I just couldn't get out of it.   I had to completely lift my head out of the water just to find people to try and draft off of, as it was impossible seeing anything underwater.   Just when it seemed like I would get on somebody's feet, I'd either lose the person, or someone else would come in and bump me off them.   This pretty much happened all the way out to the first turn buoy.

After making the left hand turn at the 2nd buoy, I immediately noticed how much easier it was to see, now that we were heading back and not looking into the rising sun, as we were doing on the way out.

Coming back, I again found it difficult to consistently stay on people's feet for various reasons, or maybe I just suck at drafting.   Either way, I was making ok time and feeling good, so I just kept on pushing.   Eventually we made it back to the bridges near the swim start and it was only a few hundred more meters to the exit.   I took a quick peak at my watch which already read just over an hour, so my sub 60 minute swim was out the window.   

I made the final left turn and swam fairly hard to the swim exit steps.   These steps were a bit tricky, as there was nothing to step up on, so you basically needed to drag yourself, with the help of volunteers up onto the steps.   I was a bit dazed from the swim and didn't even notice the two steps down at the top and almost went for a loop into the crowd.   I took a quick peak at the clock which read 1:05 something, so I was a bit disappointed.   I was really hoping to be closer to 1:02 or 1:03 at least.   Oh well, another day perhaps.  I I finished the swim in 42nd place in my AG and 312th overall in the race.

After a quick exit from my wetsuit via the wetsuit strippers, I worked my way to the change tent to get ready for the bike ride.   T1 wasn't lightening fast, but I felt like I wasn't wasting any time.   4:29 and I was on bike bike about to begin the fast 3 loop, mostly flat, highly congested bike ride.

The plan was to go out and hold about 230 watts on the bike, but at the beginning, everything felt easy and I had a hard time keeping the watts much below 250, despite telling myself I need to slow down a bit.   It just felt like the right pace and effort, so I carried on.

On the first lap, the only people I was passing were swimmers who had faster times than me obviously, but just aren't as strong on the bike.   I found that I rather quickly got into a good group with a bunch of other riders and tried to keep it legit at all times.   Of course, when people are passing each other and then easing off the pace at the front, there was a lot of moving around.  I seemed to think that the marshals were doing a good job of keeping things in check, as they were almost always around our group, and at times, I swear one rode right beside me for 5 minutes!

I made it to the turn-around point on lap 1 in about 53 minutes with an average power of approx. 260 watts, definitely ahead of plan, but things seemed to be going well.   After making the turn, we had a nice tailwind and downhill section and the speeds really picked up.   I was doing about 34.5kph average out to the first turn, but as soon as we turned, I was easily doing about 50kph+ for at least a few K until we got down out of the steeper part of the climb up to the turn.

At this point, I was still working mostly with the same group and things were going well.   I let the power come down on the return trip to town where I averaged 42.5kph with an average power of 239.   I was really working a high cadence at this point, and I averaged a cadence of 97 for the return trip.

Just before getting back to town, we went through a bumpy section where my Profile Design Aero bottle (for the first time ever) popped right out of it's cage.   I had to slam on the brakes and make a quick U-turn to pick it up, as it held almost half my nutrition for the bike (it was a double Infinite solution).  
At this point, I lost the group I was working with, but I just kept my cool and started making my way through the other riders.   I reached the turn-around back at transition in just over 1 hour and 35 minutes for the 60K loop.   My average speed had popped up to 38kph and my power had dropped to 250 watts and things were feeling really good.

Only about 10 minutes into the second lap, I caught back up with the main group of guys (and some pro women) that I was working with previously.  Everything continued to go pretty smoothly, but as we started the climb up to the turn-around for the second time, we started catching other racers on their first lap.   This started making things a bit tricky and you had to really stay alert, as sometimes you would come up on racers doing only about half the speed we were doing.   They come up quick, and at least twice I almost ran into the back of somebody else going significantly slower than me.

The overall power on the second loop dropped to 233 watts, as I found myself stuck in a bunch of packs at times with no place to go.   It was quite frustrating when you make a good effort to get away, only to get swallowed up by others sitting right behind and not content to just stay there.   Once they pass however, I swear they would slow down and then I'd be sitting in the middle or back doing really low watts.

The second lap was just a bit slower in about 1hr and 36 minutes, and as we started the 3rd lap, the congestion on the course was crazy.   My power for the first 30 minutes of the third lap was only 220 watts, as I was in and out of packs and trying to navigate around the slower riders.   About halfway through the final lap, me and another guy seemed to break away from the pack and we were working well together.   As we made the climb up to the turn-around for the final time, I was trying very hard to keep my 7 or 8 meters behind him at all times.   Just then, a marshal pulls up and flashes me a red card for drafting.   I asked where this took place and she said at one point (likely when we were passing the slower riders) that I got into the draft zone of the guy I was behind, and then dropped back without making the pass.   I knew there was zero to gain by arguing with them, so I just shook my head and acknowledged the penalty.   At this point I was feeling a bit deflated, but I tried not to let it get me down.   

The next penalty tent was right at the turn-around point, where I quickly pulled in and started my 4 minute penalty.   I was in with another guy who just pulled in, so I used it to get some fluids and calories in for the ride back to town.

As soon as the 4 minutes was up, I got a nice push from one of the volunteers, and I was immediately hammering hard down the hill to get back into the game.   The ride back to town was a bit lonely, as I was totally not working with anyone else at this point, and was passing hundreds of other racers.

I eventually made it back to town and handed my bike off to another one of the great volunteers.

In the end, I rode 4:50:45 (including 4 minute drafting penalty) or 4:46 excluding the penalty.   This brought me home with an average speed of 37.5kph and an average power of 239 watts for the entire ride.   The plan for the ride was to ride about 230 watts, so I did end up going a bit harder, but in the end, I still felt good and didn't feel at all like I over-cooked things.   After the bike, I had moved up to 9th in my AG and 81st overall in the race.

2013 Ironman Arizona Garmin Bike Data

Once off the bike, I quickly grabbed my run stuff and made my way to the change tent.   In the tent, I got some more sunscreen applied, shoes on, grabbed my salt and visor and was off.   T2 took 1:30 which wasn't too bad.

I started the run feeling not too bad as we ran along concrete paths to the first turn-around point at McClintock Rd.   Similar to other Ironmans I have done, I didn't bother carrying anything other than salt.   I seem to get by fine with what I can pick up at aid stations.

After making my way past the transition zone again, I started thinking to myself that this run is feeling harder than I thought it should at this point.  I was not sure if it was the concrete paths slamming the quads or the effort on the bike.

I eventually made it to the Priest St. bridge where we crossed Tempe Town Lake for the second half of the run course.   It was just after crossing the bridge that I popped into an aid station for a washroom break.   Feeling much better after, I carried along and ran beside the lake to the second turn-around point on the run course.   Shortly after making the turn, I ran into coach Wolf (Wolfgang Guembel) who ran with me for a bit to see how I was doing.   I told him that I thought the run was feeling harder than I wish it did.   He told me to relax the shoulders and stay light on my feet whenever it felt hard and painful.   I pretty much had to think of this the rest of the run!!

Still more suffering!
Suffering big time here!

There is only a small hill on the run course along Curry Rd., and after getting through it, I hit an aid station and took in a bit of a banana which seemed to make me feel just a bit better.

I finally made it back to the transition zone in about 1hr 35 minutes, so despite not feeling great, I was still doing ok time wise.   

Starting the second loop, my legs were feeling noticeably more sore, and I started taking walking breaks through every aid station.  At about the 30K mark, I started taking more and more walking breaks for very short periods of time, like 10 seconds or so.   These breaks seemed to happen more and more in the last 10K when things started getting very very hard.   I was playing mental games by now and really having to push myself to keep running.   I'd go through periods where things felt ok and then a short bit later where things felt really bad and my hamstrings were going to lock up at almost any second.

I really wanted to run at least as well as I did in Tremblant last year, but with 10K to go, I pretty much knew that wasn't going to happen.  I finally got to 37K and had only 5K to go and about 30 minutes to run under 3:30 for the run.   I knew I started the run right around the 6 hour mark, so all time under 3:30 was time under 9:30 overall, which was my main goal for the race.

I kept pushing but with about 2K to go, a guy in my AG passed me.  I managed to run with him for about 45 seconds until I just couldn't hold him any longer.   To this point, I'm not sure if it was my brain or my legs that let him go, but I'm sure it was a combination of both.

I finally made it to Ash Street, for the final 500m or so to the finish line.  It's funny how well you can run knowing the finish line is in sight, but when it's 10K way, it really gets you.   

The crowds were not huge at this point in the race, but there were pretty good, and I soaked up all their energy for a final push to the line, where I was able to finish in 9hrs 24min and 49 seconds.    My final run time was 3:22:37, but it seemed so much longer than that!

2013 Ironman Arizona Garmin Run Data

Incredibly happy to be done!

Finishing only a few seconds behind me was Chris Pickering of London, Ontario.   My father in law also managed to capture my finish on video as seen here..


So unfortunately after getting passed in the last 2K, I was bumped from 6th to 7th place in my AG out of 435 and 65th overall in the race out of approx. 2,800 starters.

After making my way to the massage tent, I talked to the guy who passed me, and he told me that the guy who got first in our AG already had a Kona spot, so assuming 6 spots in our AG, his would roll to me, which made all the pain after the race seem worth it after all.

After a little bit of food, I got changed, hooked up with Brian who unfortunately could not finish the race and then we went back to the finish line and watched Cynthia roll in at just over 13 hours.

The next day, we went down to the race site for the Kona roll-down process and it was then that I found out that there were 6 guaranteed Kona spots in our AG and the winner had indeed already taken his spot at IM Lake Tahoe back in September, so I was good to go!!   Mike Reilly kicked off the roll-down process by calling my name first, and I was right there to snag the spot.  After me, there were only two other Kona spots in the entire race.

So overall, I was really happy with my time and picking up a Kona spot, but on the other hand, I was a bit upset in getting passed in the final 2K and also getting the drafting penalty.   Without either, I would have grabbed a guaranteed Kona spot and would have finished in about 9:20 or so.   A podium spot was still about 2 minutes quicker, so it would not have made a difference there.

The good news is I now have all year to try and put together a much better race in Kona compared to what I did there in 2012.   Now I'm just really enjoying the downtime and unstructured training until sometime in the New Year!! 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

2013 Vegas 70.3 World Championship Race Report

Race Date - September 8, 2013

Race Details:
1.9K Swim
91K Bike
21.1K Run

This race, despite it being a championship event, was really just one step in my journey towards Ironman Arizona in November.   I went into the race feeling pretty well and for the most part rested and ready to go.

Race morning presented something nobody was really expecting....RAIN.   Looking back at the 4-5 days we were there, Las Vegas got as much rain as they had year to date.   That being said, there was still plenty of hot, dry weather that made the other activities around race weekend enjoyable.

In T1 and ready to roll
T1 was not in an ideal spot for all the rain that was falling that morning.   It was sort of at the bottom of a small hill that surrounded it, and the rain made for a very messy and muddy transition zone.   As seen in the picture below, the entire transition zone is surrounded by mud.

T1 Surrounded by mud

Race organizers for some reason decided to close transition a full 30 minutes before the pros went off, so this meant I had to be out of transition an hour before my start time of 7:28.   This meant a lot of standing around in the rain watching the pros and various age groupers start their races.

Eventually, 7:28 am came around and my wave got into the water and made our way over to the starting line.   After a bit of treading water, the horn sounded and the race was on!

The water was very dirty and I found it very difficult to find people to swim with, during the chaos of the start.   I wish I could say I felt great and found a great rhythm and some feet to get around the course on, but I would be lying.   It wasn't a struggle, but I also didn't feel like I was going very fast.   Being a non wetsuit swim didn't help things either.

I came out of the water in 34:40 which put me in about 90th position in my age group out of 239 other athletes.   Obviously not great, but is the worlds, and the swim is my weakest discipline.   The run to transition was fairly long and it was very slippery/muddy, so I had to take my time a bit.   T1 took 4 minutes as it was also a pretty long run out of transition before we were able to get on our bikes.

Starting the ride, the rain was still coming down pretty steady.   It was very difficult to even see through my sunglasses, so I had to push them up until they cleared up a bit.   Without the speed of the open road, they were pretty fogged up.

The first several kilometers of the bike were basically around the resort area of Lake Las Vegas and then uphill to the main highway.   I tried to keep the power in check, as it would have been easy to blow the entire race by killing this part of the ride.   Everything went according to plan, except for the fact I lost my salt somewhere near the start, which sucked, but in the end, didn't cause any issues.

Once on the main highway, the rain continued to come down, but at least I could see through my sunglasses, which was completely necessary, due to all the spray coming off the bikes in front.

Overall, the bike course was really fun.   There was really nothing about it that was flat, but instead, had many super fast and intense downhills and many long grinding uphills.   None of the hills were very steep, but many were long.

I basically got into a good group with a few guys and worked the different parts of the course.   I found that I was strongest on the "flatter" sections and downhills, and would lose some time on the uphills.   Not sure if this was because I was just doing a good job of not over extending myself on the climbs or because the other guys were just stronger in the hills.

At about the 70K point of the bike, the rain basically stopped and the sun started coming out.   

Once we got back into Henderson (T2 is not where T1 was) there was a super fast section where I was able to get the cadence up and freshen up my legs.   Unfortunately, the last 10K of the bike course has some substantial climbing, so that took a bit of snap out of the legs just before starting the run.

I finished the bike, which was 56.6 miles (91.3K), due to logistics in 2:34:25 and moved up to 46th in my age group.

Vegas WC Garmin Bike Data

After handing off my bike to one of the great volunteers, I made my way through the sea of red transition bags and eventually found mine and went into the change tent to get ready for the run.  T2 took 1:56, which again wasn't super fast, but I made sure not to make any mistakes or forget anything.

The run course was much like the bike course.   There was barely a flat section to be found.   You immediately start running down a slight downhill to the first turn-around at approximately the 2K mark.   Then you turn around and run back and past transition to another turn around point a few K past the transition/finish line area.   It's basically a little over 3K to the second turn around, which is pretty much all gradually uphill.   Then it's almost 2K back to the transition zone to start the next lap.

The run consisted of 3 laps of this course.   I felt pretty good through the first lap, getting in all my nutrition and salt as required.   On the first lap, I actually passed Leanda Cave, the female pro who won this race last year.   She wasn't having a great day, so this isn't saying much.

Overall, I felt like I ran a pretty steady race.   I tried pushing the pace a bit more on the downhills to try and make up for some of the time I was losing on the uphill sections.

By the time I reached the third lap, I was starting to get pretty tired, but continued to push to the top of the last turn around knowing I had a nice downhill finish.   After reaching the top, I was able to find another gear for the last kilometer and a half to the finish line.   During this section, I started passing a lot of runners (many of them still on their first or second lap) as I was easily doing under a sub 4 minute kilometer pace.

Eventually I hit the finish with a final run time of 1:33:12, which was pretty good given all the hills and the heat and humidity that had shown up for the run.

Vegas WC Garmin Run Data

After the run, I had moved up a bit more to finish in 36th overall in my age group and 301st overall in the race out of over 2000 participants.   Finishing 36th put me in the top 15% in my age group, which isn't bad, given these are the best 70.3 athletes in the world on that day.

So overall, I was happy with my result and look forward to my preparation towards my A race this year, Ironman Arizona on November 17th.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

EndurRun Stage 3 - Bechtal Park 30K Trail Race

Normally a summer Ironman would keep me from doing a race like this, but with my A race not until November, I have taken the time to get involved in a few events I normally would otherwise pass up.

When asked if I would be part of the Health & Performance Men's team to go after the overall win in this years EndurRun Event I jumped on board.   With my focus primarily on the "longer" stuff for Ironman training, I was asked to do the 30K trail race, which was on Tuesday, August 13th.

This 30K race consisted of 6 laps around the trail network at Bechtal Park in Waterloo.   I arrived about an hour or so before the start of the race, which was plenty of time.   The EndurRun event is pretty unique, so there aren't too many people who actually show up and race these stages, so you get a real small time feel.    Even though it is a small event, Lloyd Schmidt and his crew still did a great job of getting everything setup and the trails well laid out.

Just before 8am, Lloyd did his customary roll call for all participants and the race kicked off right at 8am as planned.

For the first kilometer of the race, I pretty much just sat in with the lead group of the Ultra runners (the crazy guys and gals racing the entire event - all stages) to get a feel for what their pace would be like.

As we hit the easiest part of the course, the paved road coming into the park, I slowly pulled away from these guys and was comfortably sitting in second place.   The lead runner, was a fellow relay participant, who I didn't know at the time, but is a very talented runner, Derek Lantz.   He's a 1:13 half marathoner and a very good triathlete, who just this year won the overall title at the Peterborough Half Ironman.   I was very surprised to see how quickly he was pulling away from us.

I knew our team only had a 14 second overall lead in the standings over his team, but I couldn't attempt to match his speed without completely blowing up myself, so I just stuck to what I felt was the right pace for me.

The race was constantly rolling with hills over a combination of pavement, grass, wood chips, dirt and gravel trails, so it was difficult to get into a consistent "fast" rhythm.   That being said, the terrain was constantly changing, so I felt it forced me to be constantly using different muscle groups, which actually made me feel better overall.

The first lap went by in 21:48 (although I think each lap was slightly long at about 5.1K) and I was feeling generally ok with my pacing.   As I got back to the paved section I could see that the lead runner was waaaaay up the road already, so my hopes that he was just going to fade after the fast start were dissipating quickly.

I just focused on my race, and I was quite surprised how quickly each lap seemed to tick on by.  I think this actually made the time go quicker, as I could always focus on the different sections of the course which I knew were never really that far away.

By the third lap, I began taking a gel as we crossed through the finish line section, and would run with it until we got to the entrance into the wooded trail section.   I would then grab some water and put it down and repeat for the next 3 laps.

I would say by the end of the second or start of the third lap I actually started lapping other runners, which I was surprised would happen so quickly.

I'd say I started feeling a bit of fatigue mid way through the 4th lap, but nothing that was causing any issues.

Face starting to tell the tale here
Sean Delanghe (head coach of H&P) and Dave Rutherford (who is running the marathon for our team on the last day) were both around for the entire event and were giving out lot's of encouragement throughout each lap, and before I knew it, I was running through the finish line area and Dave started ringing a bell to signify the last lap.   

I tried picking up the pace a bit knowing I was almost done, but looking back, it was only a moderate increase and I crossed the line for the last time in just under 2 hours and13 minutes, but as I said earlier, each lap was just a bit long I believe, so my Garmin showed 30.52K.

I managed to hold on to my second place result, but finished an incredible 14 minutes back of the winner Derek Lantz, who knocked our relay team way out of the lead.   This was disappointing, but in reality, there was nothing I could do about it.   If I really tapered hard for this race and gave it 110%, I might have been able to go a few minutes faster, but nothing that would have been able to keep us in the lead in the overall standings.

The good news was that I put a bunch of time into the other relay teams, which pretty much locked up 2nd place for us at least.   Overall, I felt I had a good race and was happy to have participated in such a great event.   The post race food was some of the best I have ever seen at a race....ever!!!   The small family feel at the event really made this event stand out and kudos's to Lloyd and his family for putting on a great race.

As of writing this, Stage 6 is in the books and coach Sean had a great race in the 10K coming in just under 37 minutes.   Unfortunately, the first place relay team keeps putting time into us, so we are 99% sure of getting 2nd place overall this year in the relay division, which is still pretty decent.   It has been a really fun event to be part of, and depending how things go next year, I look forward to doing it again.