Monday, November 7, 2016

2016 XTERRA Maui Offroad Triathlon World Championship Race Report

Race Date: October 23rd, 2016

Race Details: 
1500m Swim
~32K Off-road Mountain Bike
~10.5K Off-road Trail Run

I qualified for this race at the Xterra Mine over Matter triathlon which was actually my first off-road triathlon.   The family and I headed to Maui a week before on October 15th.   After a really long travel day, we eventually made it to our condo in the NW corner of Maui, just south of the race site.

There were a number of other athletes from the Southern Ontario area also racing, as well as my training buddy from Kitchener, Steve Good who was also staying close by.   We did a number of training sessions in the week leading up to the race, including an awesome road ride around West Maui.   If we're friends on Facebook, you can check it out HERE.   

The one thing that was happening prior to the race on a regular basis was RAIN.   It wasn't a major vacation sucking rain, as it was really spotty, but it pretty much rained several times a day, sometimes hard, in the 3 or 4 days prior to the race.   This would ultimately play a huge factor on race day!

Race morning arrived and it was a pretty low key with lot's of time to get to the race site for the 9am start.   We were always waking up stupid early the whole week, so getting to the race site around 7am was no problem.   Race morning was pretty nice with sunshine and light winds.   Despite the low winds, the waves at DT Fleming were still kicking up, and as promised, we got a rough water ocean swim!!

At around 9:06am, after the male and females pros, as well as the 39 and under males, our age group was off!   The first 75m or so of the swim was the hardest, just getting out past the wave breaks.   Once past those, it was just a lot of up and down to the first buoy, which was only about 375m out, as the swim was two out and backs of 750m with a 50m beach run in between.   I was actually able to stick pretty close to Steve the whole way and came out of the water only a few seconds back which was a nice change to the way we have raced this summer (he's always way ahead!!).  

The best pics of the whole event can be seen on the 
XTERRA Maui Facebook page   There are two galleries, check them out!

My wife was able to catch a cool video of Steve and I coming out of the water with some epic waves.   Check it out here -  DT Fleming swim exit

I finished the swim with a time of 28 minutes and a bit.   Compare this to the Parry Sound Xterra with the same format and distance, which was about 4 minutes faster, goes to show how much more challenging it was.

XTERRA Maui Swim - Strava Link

It was a long run up a long hill to the transition zone.  By the time we hit transition, I was with Steve and then we got to our bikes and got ready for the epic ride ahead.

Once onto the bike and about 500m in, I noticed I still had my swim skin down around my waist.   What a f*cking idiot I thought to myself.   I stopped, laid my bike down and proceeded in taking it off, as I didn't want to a) overheat with it still on, and b) destroy it in all the mud we were going to encounter.   Once I got it off, I stuffed it into my tri shorts for the rest of the ride.   Stopped on the side of the bike course dealing with this likely cost me about 90 seconds and about 50 positions on the bike, which was the worst part.

The next two hours can pretty much be summed up like this:
  • Ride for a bit;
  • Stop, either for other riders or because I can't ride my bike on this hilly, muddy course;
  • Try to ride;
  • Stop to clean the mud out of my bike frame
  • Try to ride;
  • Stop and fix my shoe which broke when somebody ran into me;
  • Try to ride
  • Walk with my bike with others;
  • Try to ride;
  • Stop and carry my bike up this stupid hill because it's easier than pushing it because the rear tire won't turn anymore;
  • Try to ride;
  • Stop and clean the mud out of my bike frame...repeat repeat repeat.
The ride was simply a gong show adventure.   Scott Tinley, former world champ at this race summarized everything really well HERE

I would say that in the first two hours of the bike, I walked or carried my bike way more than I rode it, like 70%.   It sucked, but we were all in it together!!

I eventually reached the top, spent a bunch of time trying to clean my bike so I could ride it, then started the descent.   By this time, it seemed to really thin out and I wasn't dealing with many other athletes.   The last 60 minutes seemed to go by fast, even though it didn't really.   My bike constantly seemed like it was going to fall apart anytime I tried to put out any power.   I only had access to my rear derailleur as my front was no longer working.   I eventually made it back to transition with a very disappointing bike time of over 3 hours.   My Strava file only has 2:53, but that was the moving time.   I spent at least 12 minutes not moving at all on the bike course.

Once back in transition, my left shoe was so full of mud, I couldn't even get it unlocked so I had to sit down and just "yank" it off.   I got my run stuff on and was off.

The first 5K of the trail run is pretty much all up hill.   Needless to say, it was hot, hard and pretty slow.   Despite how poorly the race was going for me, I actually kept a positive attitude on the run and just kept plugging along.   Not one person passed me on the run, and I likely passed about 50 people, so that was motivating.   After 5K, we got to run back down to the beach.   There definitely were some technical spots where we were jumping over or going under branches.

At around 8 or 9K, there was one really hard hill left on a paved road.   This part was tough, but eventually I made my way past this and ran downhill all the way to DT Fleming beach where we had a a few hundred meters to run on the beach...which was also pretty tough and slow.   I eventually made it to the finish line, and was happy this adventure was over.   Up to that point, I really had no idea what my overall time was, as I just wasn't looking at my watch, but was surprised to see around 4:37 or so.   Before the rain, my estimated finish time was maybe around between 3 hours and 3:15, so yah, didn't quite accomplish that!

So overall, it was an epic day and in a weird kind of way, pretty fun.   I'd like to definitely try this one again and hope for better conditions, as I really wasn't able to test the fitness during this race due to the conditions.   People say the bike was HARD, but in reality, it wasn't hard at all.   It was just SLOW.   It would have been much harder to be able to ride and push hard on the climbs.

After the race, myself and the family chilled and did some great sight seeing on the island including a trip up Haleakala, which is 10,000' above sea level.   I actually rode my mountain bike down the mountain 2000m before connecting with the family again.   It was pretty awesome.

Thanks for following along on the many races this year.   Not sure what the plan is for next year other than the Boston marathon in April and the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee in September.   We'll figure that out soon enough I guess.   Here are a few more race day pictures!   Later,

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 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.

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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

2016 Wasaga Beach Olympic Triathlon Race Report

Race Date: August 27, 2016

Race Details: 
1.5K Swim
40K Bike
10K Run

This was my second time doing this race.   I also did the Olympic distance race last year too.   This year, race day brought much better swim conditions, and my swim time reflects that.   The Olympic triathlon started at 10:30, which was great, as this allowed ample time to drive up to Wasaga from home.   I came up with my buddy Steve Good, who was also racing.

We started in the third wave, going off at 10:33.   The start area was pretty gracious and at the sound of the gun, I tried pushing pretty hard to see how long I could swim with Steve.   It didn't really take long to lose him, which again, is just a disappointing part of my triathlon swimming.   I just wish I could figure out how to catch and hold a good draft.    I basically swam solo through the halfway point, at which point I connected with another guy and tried to do some drafting.   This worked well until we made the final turn back to the beach.   From what I could tell, he was really veering the wrong way, so I just pulled out and took my own line back.

Wasaga has a pretty shallow and extended entry, so when I could no longer swim, I stood up and ran the final 40-50m to the beach, which is never really easy...I'd rather be able to swim right to shore.  I eventually made my way out of the water and over the timing mat in 24:56.   This was good for the 13th fastest swim in the race and 2nd fastest in my AG behind Steve.

Wasaga Beach Olympic Triathlon Swim

T1 went well as I easily got out of my Nineteen Rogue wetsuit.   Side note, I absolutely love this suit.   Best one I have ever owned!   Highly recommend!   T1 took 53 seconds.

Out onto the bike, I really didn't feel great.   The power wasn't coming easily, but luckily, the speed kept creeping up.   I feel my aero setup on my bike is pretty much dialed in, so as long as I kept my head down and put forth a good effort, the speed will come.   At about the 5K mark, I had made my way past a number of folks already and found that the next group was a good chunk of the road.   When we hit the middle part of the ride, it was a super smooth road with a nice tailwind and I was hitting speeds of around 48kph.   I made up a bunch of time in this section before we made the turn towards the turnaround point.   The course was changed last minute compared to last year, and the change was good.   It was easier to follow, as it was basically just a big out and back.

Just before approaching the turnaround point at 20K, I saw Steve for the first time, and just after the turnaround, I caught up to him.   We rode together for a while, but shortly after, we both got passed by another athlete, who was doing the Swim-Bike.   He was riding hard so I did what I could to try and stay with him (legally).   Even without the draft, I find it easier to ride with others, as it gives you something to focus on, other than the ongoing suffering.   In the last 4-5K, he eventually pulled away and finished maybe 200-300m ahead of me.   It still was a good ride for me, as I finished the 40K ride just under the one hour mark in 59:45.   Unfortunately, my power meter died around the halfway point (SRM, so thinking the battery needs replacing) but until that point, I was holding an average power of about 266 watts, which was actually lower than what I was hoping to do.   I was targeting around 280, but since I actually held a better average speed than last year, I can't complain too much.   Coming off the bike, I believe I was 3rd overall in the race and first in my AG.

Wasaga Beach Olympic Triathlon Bike

T2 went well, in and out in 48 seconds and off onto the run.   The course was completely empty at this point, but the first 500m is along the boardwalk in Wasaga and there were plenty of people on the beach cheering, so that was cool.

Overall, I was feeling decent and pushed along at a steady pace, which was right around 4:00/K's.   I was thinking that maybe l could run a bit faster than last year, where I ran some of the run with Billy Bostad, who is a pretty good runner.   This year I was completely solo, nobody ahead to chase and from what I could gather, not really anyone behind me pushing me.

At about 3K of the first loop I started running into other athletes going out onto the first lap.   The course was pretty tight, so I had to be diligent when passing other athletes and at some of the aid stations that were dealing with two way traffic.

After finishing the first lap, I connected with another athlete starting their first lap when I was starting my second.   We ran together for maybe a kilometer before  I started to pull away.   It was much more congested on the second lap, but eventually I made it back to the boardwalk and the final few hundred meters to the finish line.   I finished the run in 40:06 (I really should have been paying more attention to my run time to get under 40:00) and a total race time of 2:06:57, which is a new Olympic distance triathlon PB.

Wasaga Beach Olympic Triathlon Run

Official Sportstats Results

Sums up how I felt after finishing!!

 There was some confusion at the end of the race, as to my overall finishing position.   I started the run in 3rd overall in the race, and moved past Andrew Bolton on the second lap, so I thought I was then in second.  As it turns out, I did get passed with about 3K to go by a guy wearing a running singlet.   I thought for sure he was a relay runner (he was flying), but it turns out now that he actually was in the olympic triathlon.   He was Scott Hill, and he had a fantastic final run going 34:00 flat to move into second overall.   Sportstats didn't seem to have his result when they did the overall awards, as they still had me in second when we did the announcement post race.   I still won my AG though, and the M40-44 had a great showing as the top three of us also made the overall podium.

Overall race podium...I actually finished 3rd.

40-44 Age Group Podium with my buddy and training partner Steve Good
Next up for me is the Niagara Falls Barrelman.   I'm not going to lie, I really want to defend my top master and 40-44 AG win from there last year.   Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

2016 Kingston Long Course Triathlon Race Report

Race Date: July 31, 2016

Race Details: 
2K Swim
56.2K Bike
15K Run

This was my first time doing the Kingston Long Course Triathlon.   Click on the link below to watch my video race recap.    A few extra pictures and stats are noted below as well.

Some metrics from the race:

Overall Results:

Zoom Photo also captured some cool finish line pictures and video.   See below

Overall, the race went really well and I can't wait for the next one up at Wasaga Beach.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

2016 Xterra Parry Sound Offroad Triathlon Race Report

Race Date: July 23, 2016

Race Details: 
1.5K Swim
~ 25K Offroad Mountain Bike
~ 8.8K Trail Run

This was my second XTERRA race of the year.   I qualified for the XTERRA Worlds in Milton Mine over Matter, so the pressure was off for this race, and I just wanted to have some fun.   I sure did...or did I?   Not sure.

Steve Good and I went up on Friday, the day before the race and did a pre race swim, ride and run.   Pretty much just one loop easy of the entire course.   I immediately knew we were in for a real treat on race day.   Plus it was super hot and humid.

The race had a late start at 10:30am at Nine Mile Lake just north of Parry Sound.   It was a beautiful venue for swimming.   There were also two transition zones, as the lake was about 1.5K from the run course.   So after doing all the race morning check-ins, Steve and I grabbed our swim and bike gear and rode to the swim start and got setup and did a short warm-up swim.   There was a drone hovering above the swim course that captured these awesome pics...

At 10:30, the horn sounded and we were all off.   It was a mass swim start, as there weren't really that many participants.   I was using my new Nineteen Rogue wetsuit and it felt pretty nice as I tried to push hard to get ahead of the pack at the start.

Maybe 200m out, I grabbed a draft off a guy, but it just felt too slow, so I pulled out and went around, which was likely a good call, but this meant I swam the rest of the swim solo, cause I couldn't quite catch the feet ahead of me.

The swim was a double loop of 750m with a short beach run in between.   I came out of the first loop in 6th place and basically held that position through the second lap and into T1 finishing the swim in 24:45.

XTERRA Parry Sound Swim - Strava Link

The bike started with a 1.5K uphill ride along the beach access road back to the Georgian Nordic Ski club where T2 was and then immediately into a bunch of single track.   The single track sections were unique and a bit different than what I have experienced back home at say the Hydrocut.   Here is how the race director describes the bike course:

"bits of technical singletrack that wander over undulating ridges of exposed granite.  These sections are connected by flowing doubletrack, offering ample room for safe passing, as you sweep by lakes, marshes, and beaver dams…  There may be no massive leg-burning ascents, but there are still plenty of short and sweet climbs to keep you on your toes.  While nothing on the course is scary or dangerous, the technical sections will certainly reward the skilled riders.  And the unique exposed granite sections will put a smile on everyone’s face…"

They sure did put a smile on my face.   Actually, I found the course pretty cool, but at the same time, it was pretty bumpy, and it would have been better to have a full suspension mountain bike, instead of the hard tail that I have.

As I made my way through the course, I believe I passed two other athletes and got passed twice myself, so basically came off the bike in the same position that I started it in.

There were only a few memorable moments throughout the ride.   The first was when I didn't take a line well and had to unclip quickly before crashing, and another was when I was pedaling around a tight corner and my left crank hit a rock or root or something, and I literally crashed and burned.   Luckily, nothing was broken on either the bike or myself and I was able to get up quickly and get back in the race.   I think I only lost 20s or so there.

XTERRA Parry Sound Mountain Bike - Strava Link

Once back in T2 I was able to quickly rack my bike and get my shoes on and get out onto the crazy run course they had for us.   Only 500m or so into the run, we had to climb up "The Wall", which was a huge slab of granite with a rope to help us up, since it was pretty darn steep!   Check out the video link below...

The Wall

Overall, the run course was incredibly unique.   Here is how the race director describes it:

"In a tip of the hat to our adventure racing friends, we have created a run course that is challenging and memorable.  The majority of the course follows technical single track, twisting and turning through the forest, splashing through streams and along rocky ridges.  And while that may be tough enough for the average runner, there’s more: each lap of the course takes racers up The Wall – a massive 15m slab of sloping granite, complete with rope assists to aid those weary legs.  It’s an experience that none will soon forget…"

The course was 2 laps and it was epic.   On the first lap, I even lost my shoe in a boggy part of the course.   I use Xtenex laces in most of my racing shoes so I can easily get them on and off in transition.   Unfortunately that means they can easily come off when you plant your foot in a mucky bog!

I finished the first lap with no changes in position, but starting the second lap, I was about 60 seconds down on 5th place.   I caught this athlete at the wall and carried on through the tricky course, being cautious to not lose my shoe again or twist an ankle for that matter.

I ended up passing the athlete that was in 4th place about half way through the second lap, so that put me into 4th overall, where I would finish, when crossing the finish line in 2:36:47 with a final run time of 45:32, the second fastest on the day behind Rich Pady, the race winner.

XTERRA Parry Sound Trail Run - Strava Link

2016 XTERRA Parry Sound Full Distance Triathlon Results

So even though I finished 4th overall, the 3 guys that finished ahead of me (including Steve who finished 3rd overall) were also in my 40-49 AG, so that meant I got nothing other than the satisfaction of another decent XTERRA race.

I have no other XTERRA races planned this year other than the XTERRA World Championship in Maui, Hawaii.    Between now and then though, I will be doing the Kingston LC Tri, Wasaga Beach Olympic and the Barrelman Half Iron race in Niagara Falls again.

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!