A few months ago I was selected as a finalist in a contest put on by 7 Systems. The contest is to find out which athlete can "Do More". For more information on what it is all about, check out...
My goal race is the 2010 Muskoka 70.3 in September. This will be the third time doing this race for me, as I've done it every year since the inaugural race in September 2008. Last year I did well and finished in 5:01, so I'm hoping to better that time this year and actually finish under 4:50.
Throughout July, I've done a couple of triathlons and a number of training sessions that I hope will get me closer to reaching my goal.
Belwood Triathlon - July 18, 2010
This race took place at the Belwood Conservation area. It was a 1K swim, 30K bike and 7K run. I decided to start in the elite age group wave (wave 1) as I thought I had a good chance of getting on the podium in my age group (M35-39). This was a good decision, as it positioned me with the other top contenders in my AG. The race started and after a bit of jostling, I got into a rhythm and just started to control my breathing and find some good lines. About half way through, I got on the heels of another athlete that was going at a good pace. This was likely the first time in ANY race that I successfully 'drafted' anyone in a race. It definitely seemed to help, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out after I exited the water that it was someone in my AG. We exited the swim together and ran up to transition and got on our bikes with almost identical times. Once out on the bike, it was a bit of back and forth as we sped through the first 10K of the bike course. It was mostly flat for the first 10K and with a slight tail/cross wind, our averages were likely above 40kph. In the second half of the bike, we hit some hills and headwinds which slowed the pace. I think by the time I got back to T2, my average on the bike was 38kph. My garmin had the bike course a bit longer than 30K, but nothing major. So after an identical swim and very similar bike time, the two of us came into T2 together. We were the first two bikes back in transition, so I thought the run was actually going to decide who was going to get first place in our AG. My T2 was slightly quicker, so I was the first one out on the run course. As we approached the first turn-around, I was actually thinking that there is a chance I could win my AG, which has never happened before. This dream was quickly smashed, as I saw another athlete that I knew was in my AG, coming towards me after the first turn-around. As it turns out, he had to put his bike in the overflow rack, as he arrived late to the race. I knew there wasn't much chance of catching him, so I just wanted to hang on to 2nd now. After I did the first turn, I noticed I had about a 20 second lead or so over the guy in 3rd. I just kept running strong and finished well and held onto my 2nd place AG finish. Overall in the race, I finished 15th out of 399 athletes, so I was pleased.
Muskoka Long Course Triathlon - July 25, 2010
Huntsville, Ontario is the perfect site for this long standing race. It is a 2K swim, 55K bike and 13K run. The run course was completely changed this year. Traditionally, it is a 15K run that takes runners on an out and back course through and then west of Huntsville. The new run course was a lot more "spectator friendly", but not "athlete friendly". I'll get to that in a moment. Unlike last weekend, I decided to just start in my normal age group wave (2nd one), rather than in the elite age group. My reasoning for this is because this race is usually more competitive, and I have never really even came close to placing in my AG in the previous two times I have done it.
So at 8:05, we were off. There didn't seem to be too many people in our wave, and I found the swim start very calm. No grabbing, kicking, etc. going on. There was sufficient room to just "swim" rather than "survive". I really wanted to have a better "longer" swim at this race, so I was trying find a mix between swimming hard and swimming comfortably. About half way through, I found myself totally swimming alone. There weren't many blue caps (wave 2) around, and I was starting to catch up to some of the slower wave 1 swimmers. There was plenty of space, but I couldn't seem to find anyone to draft off of, so I just kept going. I was feeling good at this point and was optimistic I would have a new swim PB at this race. The final 750m or so of the swim goes down a river (slightly against a current I think), and there are a few turns. I felt like I took good lines, and came out of the water in about 35 minutes. By the time I got to the T1 mat, I was just under 36 minutes, which is about 4 minutes faster than the previous two races I did here. So all in all, a decent swim, but ideally, I would have liked to have been a minute or two faster. Next year maybe!
Since the run course is a bit longer, and I wanted to be sure of my pacing, I decided to put on my Garmin Forerunner for the ride and run. This likely added 10 seconds to T1, but in the end, that didn't matter. Onto the bike, things were feeling good. When out on bike rides in training, I never, and mean never get my HR as high as I do when I start a ride after a swim. I often wonder why I can usually never bike as fast in training as I do in a race, and I think the swim before is one of the reasons why. My HR was in the 150's and 160's as I started the ride, and usually on my training rides or biking to work, I rarely have an avg. HR above 130. With the swim beforehand, and the race adrenaline kicking in, I am likely able to push harder on the bike than I do in training. I've learned that the high HR is nothing to get alarmed at, as it eventually goes down. This can be seen in my garmin data below:
Funny enough, the same athlete that I was back and forth with in Belwood was also in this race, and we found ourselves once again, biking close to each other in this race. I like it when there are a few people around at your same level that you can use to feed off of and push the pace. There was actually three of us that were together for about 30K of the bike. With about 15K left or so, I managed to pull away from the other two and got back to T2 feeling tired, but ok. This was good, as I was completely out of fluid and saltstick capsules.
Onto the run, and as I mentioned, the course was 2K shorter than previous years, but definitely harder. It was a 2 loop course that had 4 turn-arounds, so you always got to see where you stood in regards to your competition. Here's my garmin data for this portion of the race:
As I said earlier, it was certainly more spectator friendly, but there were also lot's of hills. The most challenging one was on the 4th out and back section, where we had to go behind the arena on a new road built for the G8 summit that took place earlier in the summer. You know it's a hard course when I can pass Sean Bechtal. He was completing his 2nd and final lap (due to his awesome swim and bike) while I was on my first. I was quite surprised to actually go past him on the 4th out and back section. Based on the number of bikes that were in transition on my rack when I came back into T2, I thought I definitely had a spot on the podium if I kept up the pace. It was tough, but in the end, that finish line was very nice to see. As I sprinted up to it, my 6 year old son joined in, and was right behind me!
In the end, I got 4th in my AG (out of 44) and 27th overall in the race out of 350 or so. This is the best I've ever done at this race, but I also think the numbers were down due to the timing (prime vacation time??). There are usually over 600 athletes in this race, and back when it was the chase, it was close to 1,000. The first time I did it, Craig Alexander won it.
So overall, I was pleased, and given my family and I were now off for a week's vacation at the Delawana Inn, rather than spending the next 4 hours driving home, I was in good spirits!