Wednesday, September 21, 2016

2016 Barrelman Triathlon Race Report

Race Date: September 18th, 2016

Race Details: 
2K Swim
89K Bike
21.1K Run

This was my second time doing this race.   I also did it last year in 2015.   The one thing making this race a priority for me was the Triathlon Ontario Long Course Series and also because this race acted as the provincial long course championship.   I knew that if I was to win my AG, I'd capture the long course series championship.   

The conditions this year were looking favourable for some fast racing prior to the race, given the S/SW winds.   Similar to last year, it was wet and windy the day before the race when I arrived in Welland on Saturday for registration, the athlete meeting and to drop off my bike.  No biggie, as the weather for race day was looking ideal.

Race morning came and the conditions were as expected.   A bit humid, but light winds to start and a nice temperature around 20 degrees.  Given the bike was mostly setup and I had no shoes for a run and we couldn't take our bikes out of transition, I found I had lots of time before the race start to get a good swim warm-up in and then I just chilled on the dock at the flatwater centre and watched the pros and then the first wave head out.   After wave 1, I got in the water and headed to the starting line.

I found myself beside some relay swimmers, which I think really worked out for me.   At the sound of the horn, I put in a good effort and found some feet right away.    I was determined to not lose these feet today and it FINALLY seemed to work out just great.   Staying in the draft, I found myself working at a quite comfortable pace with another swimmer literally right beside me stroke for stroke.   This was just perfect I thought.

Just before getting to the first turn buoy, we started hitting the wave that took off 5 minutes ahead of us, so there was some traffic making the first turn.   At this point, we continued to make our way around other swimmers and around the second turn buoy.   I found myself getting out of the draft a few times, but just put in a short little effort to get the feet back.   This was literally the first time in a long long time I found a good draft all the way around the course...literally.

When we exited the water, I checked my watch and it was low 30 minutes and I was really happy with that.   It was over 2 minutes faster than last year and I was feeling really good.   It turned out to be the 3rd fastest swim in my 40-44 AG.

2016 Barrelman Swim

T1 took 1:11, a bit longer than normal, but we had to stuff our wetsuit in a plastic bag so it could transported to the finish line in Niagara Falls.

Onto the bike, I quickly got into my shoes, put my head down and went to work.   My legs were feeling good and the speed immediately started to rise.   My SRM power meter battery pretty much died a month or so ago, and I didn't want to risk sending it away to get replaced because it would mean no cranks or PM leading up to Barrelman.   I'll send it away over the winter and until then, I figured I could get by on perceived exertion.  

There was a bit of a headwind/crosswind as we headed out to the loop in Wainfleet and I was consistently making my way past all the other racers from the previous wave.   By the time I made my way to the most southwesterly section of the course, my average speed was already close to 40kph.

It's worth noting that throughout the entire ride, I was not passed by one other athlete, which made me feel pretty good about my effort.   Looking back at the ride though, I noted that Mike Coughlin (last years Ultraman World Champion) who was doing the bike as part of a relay team was always about a minute or so up the road and behind me, was James McNoughton, a solid rider who was participating in the Swim/Bike event.   Viewing the flyby on Strava, you could see that we were all pretty close.    It would have definitely been good to have connected with either one of these guys as it would have made the bike it bit more interesting.

Once I got back onto Feeder road and basically with 50km straight back to the Falls, the speed began to pick up even more.   It was also at this point that we hit a few rain showers and the roads were wet in spots, so corners needed to be taken with some caution.    With no power to focus on, I simply was watching my heart rate and average speed.    Once I got up to the upper 40kph, I was determined to see if I could get to an average speed of 41kph+ for the ride.

Once off the smooth roads of Hwy 58, we had to negotiate a whole bunch of turns on our way back to Niagara Falls.   In this section, the roads were not great and it was sheltered at times, so we weren't getting the full benefit of the wind.   Despite this, I kept pushing pretty hard and eventually hit 41kph a bit before we got onto the final push north on the Niagara Parkway up to T2.   It was in this section that I backed off the effort a bit and tried to get my spin a bit higher so I could be ready for the run.   I was already at 41.2kph and was holding that pretty easily up the parkway.   It was at this time that I was starting to feel some fatigue in my legs, but knew the run was just around the corner and I quite often find that bike fatigue doesn't quite translate into leg fatigue on the run....at least not for a little while.


I got off my bike at the mount line with a ride time just under 2:10 at 2:09:56 and an average speed of 41.1kph.

2016 Barrelman Bike





I quickly racked my bike and grabbed my run bag and sat down to put my socks, shoes, etc. on.  My feet were covered in gravel, so they needed a good wipe down prior to putting socks on for the run.

T2 took 1:39, which is longer than T1, but it was a long run through transition and having to deal with a run transition bag didn't make things any quicker.

Starting the run, I actually felt good.   My first few K were just over 4 minute pace.   I knew I was near the front of the race, but I was really surprised how "empty" the course was.   There was literally nobody I could see on the course up the road.   In fact, I didn't see anyone until I hit the out and back section at Dufferin Isle Rd.   Just before the turnaround, I think I saw 2 or 3 athletes heading out.   

The first time up Burning Springs Road hill wasn't too bad, and I steadily made my way into Niagara Falls.   In this section, I think passed all but one of the athletes I saw near the turn around.   Once to the casino, the run got a bit more interesting, as we were dodging tourists as we worked our way behind the casino, down the stairs to Murray Hill and then towards the Falls.   There were tonnes of tourists out checking out the Falls, which was a bit of a distraction on the run back to transition.

The run back is deceivingly tough with some false flats and gentle hills, but eventually I got back and finished the first lap in around 44:06 for the first 10.5K.   I was now just 100 meters behind the last athlete that I saw on the first loop, which was Art Hare, who was doing the relay.   I finally caught him just before heading into Dufferin Isle Rd. again for the turnaround.

At this point, things started to slow down a bit as I was really getting tired.  I knew though I was having a really solid day so I just kept on pushing pretty hard and taking in as much water and coke at the aid stations as I could.

My main goal for the run was to break 1:30.   With a couple of K left, I knew it was going to be pretty close.   I eventually got past the small rollers on the way back to the finish line and with only a little more than a kilometre left, I picked it up.   As I went through 20K I had about a little less than 5 minutes to go if I was to go sub 1:30.   I picked up the pace for the final K and with all the cheering spectators and other athletes, I was able to run a good pace for the last K and into the finish line for a total run time of 1:29:38 and a race finish time of 4:13:12.   I got the call from Steve Fleck as I came across the line winning my AG and as the 5th overall racer.   Given I started 5 and a half minutes behind the pros, I actually ended up 4th overall.

2016 Barrelman Run

Sportstats Results







This was a 10 minute half distance PB for me and I was pretty pumped knowing I won my AG, was the provincial long course champ for 40-44, won the Triathlon Ontario long course series and well, finished on the overall podium for the race and would even get some prize money!!

Below is the finish line video from the race.


video



AG Winners

Top 5 overall in the race

So with that race, the triathlon season is over in Ontario.   In a month or so, I head to Maui to race the Xterra World Championship with a number of other athletes from Ontario.   I'm really looking forward to going back to Hawaii and checking out something other than the Big Island for a change.

Special thanks to the family for putting up with the ongoing training and to a number of sponsors including 3Sixty5 Cycling for their awesome wheel lineup.   They sure worked for this race!   John Salt and the Multisport Canada Race Series put on great events, including this one.    Barrelman is now the largest independent half iron race in North America.   If you are considering stepping up and dong a half or if you haven't done this one yet, you really should give it a go.   Everything about it is top notch starting with the amazing swim in the Flatwater centre to the fast and flat bike and amazing run by the falls and fantastic finish line area.

Thanks for the read and following along.