Tuesday, May 27, 2014

2014 Woodstock Sprint Triathlon Race Report - May 25, 2014

Race Details:

750m Swim
20K Bike
5K Run

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014 Woodstock Sprint Tri Bike File

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

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

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

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

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

Finishing up the run

2014 Woodstock Sprint Tri Run File

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

2014 Woodstock Sprint Triathlon Overall Results

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

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

Friday, May 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Holden is on the far right in the orange

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trying to keep a steady pace

Working with Greg Dyce, just a few steps behind him

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

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


The PAIN!!!

The cast iron BELL!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So overall, I was pretty happy with the results. 

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

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

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Waterloo Half Marathon - April 27, 2014 Race Report

It's been a while since I've raced a stand alone half marathon.   My previous half was the Hamilton Road to Hope back in November 2011 where I ran just under 1:22 and qualified for the New York City Marathon (but ultimately couldn't go to because of Hurricane Sandy in the fall of 2012).   The Hamilton Half is a pretty fast course, so I wasn't going into this one expecting to PB, especially since I just ran an 8K PB the night before in Elmira.

The race starts and finishes at Bechtal Park in Waterloo and the weather race morning was clear but a bit cool and breezy.   Pretty good conditions, but not perfect.

Some H&P Runners pre race
The full marathon kicked off at 8am and the half started at 8:30 am, so after getting warmed up and hitting the washroom for a final time inside the soccer house at Bechtal, I made my way over to the start line where I chatted a bit with Greg Dyce, another H&P runner doing the race.   I did pop one gel immediately prior to the start with a plan to take another at about the 10K point with some water, and then supplement with water/Gatorade at the aid stations as required.   Nothing too complicated.

Right at 8:30, the race kicked off with some bag pipers playing and sending us off.   Leaving the park, I was just behind Greg and in about 7th or 8th place overall.

Heading south on Bridge, we hit a steep downhill section just before the roundabout and grand river bridge.   Sometimes running fast downhill hurts as much as going uphill.   You just do it a lot faster!

Eventually we turned onto Bloomingdale Rd. and this is where we started a gradual uphill climb and into the wind for about 4kms.   I started this section running by myself, but eventually a guy came up from behind and passed me.  
This guy's name was Thomas Hope, and as it turns out, we would spend a lot of time together during this race.   I had never heard or seen him before, but he turned out to be a pretty solid runner and he as a BIG DUDE.   From here on in, I will refer to him as Gigantor, since he was about 6 and a half feet tall (at least) and likely over 200 lbs.   Just a big solid guy!!

He likely passed me at about the 2.5K mark, and I just tucked in behind him for a while as he did a great job of blocking the wind for me.

For the next several K, I just followed him, and we eventually started picking off some of the runners up ahead of us, including Greg.  

As we left Bloomingdale, I took the lead again from Gigantor, and we were running in 3rd and 4th place overall in the race.   Gigantor always just kept off my shoulder and within 10 or 20 feet from me the entire race.   Here is a shot of us as we coming up on the 10K point.

Trying hard to drop the big guy!

Shortly after passing the 10K mark, there was an aid station and that's where I took my second gel.   

As we passed 11K, we started a pretty steady and long climb up into the town of Conestogo.   This is where we finally caught up to the guy running in 2nd place.   On the climb up to Conestogo, we both passed him so we were now running in 2nd and 3rd overall.

Once at the top of the hill, we were in the middle of the town and we had a short flat run to Northfield, before heading south and with the wind.   This section was a bit rolling, but overall, a net downhill.   The pace picked up a bit again, as we ticked off a few K's in the low 3:50's.  

I did get a bit of motivation from fellow H&P athlete Dave Rutherford as he drove by on this section, but Gigantor also got some motivation as his family drove by and were screaming and cheering for him!

There was a slight uphill again as we got onto University Ave and then faced a bit more headwind while running slightly NE for a little while.   A short bit down Northfield, we had to do a small out and back section that I was totally not expecting.   I looked over the course maps prior to the race, and I thought we ran straight back University to Bechtal Park, but there was about a 1K out and back on Country Squire Lane and Rd. that we had to do and that was a bit deflating.   Gigantor wasn't even aware of it, so we were both surprised.

It was in this section that we saw Ed Cyr, the race leader, so we got an idea how far ahead he was.   At this point, he was out of reach unless something terribly went wrong for him.   I'd say he was a good 500-600 meters ahead.

Once back onto University, we cruised a bit of a flat section before the downhill/uphill at Lexington.   I picked up the pace a bit on the downhill, and tried to just focus on some quick turnover back up the hill past Lexington.   I was sort of hoping that I would be able to snap the elastic band between Gigantor and I, but no luck, he stuck to me like glue.

Just past the 19K point in the race, coach Sean Delanghe was out ripping around again on his mountain bike, so he decided to ride with us for a bit, offering up words of encouragement (mostly to me I think, but because he is such a nice guy, he would keep everything plural).

I had in my head that with 20K to go, I would try to find that extra gear and hopefully lose Gigantor once and for all.   Unfortunately, he had the exact same idea, and as soon as we hit 20K, he made his move past me and was really picking up the pace!   I thought crap, I guess he has something in the tank after all!

It was at this point that Sean spent a bit more time back with me and was REALLY pushing me and making sure I kept up and didn't get dropped.   Looking back at the garmin data, we were running into the 3:30 per kilometer pace at times, and at the end of a half marathon, that is really pushing it.

I managed to keep within 10 feet of Gigantor, but he just wasn't slowing down.   As we turned the corner onto Bridge from University, Sean was really pushing me to make my move.   Unfortunately, I really was pretty maxed out at this point and just couldn't make the re-pass.

We entered the Bechtal Park again and I tried my damndest to pass him back, but to no avail.    With only about 100 meters left in the race, I sort of mentally gave up, as he was slowing pulling away and I was going full throttle!   In the end, after running in 2nd place for half the race with Gigantor right on my heels, I lost the sprint finish and had to settle for 3rd.

It really was a great finish nonetheless, as I can't say I have had too many sprint finishes in races like that before.   Here is a finish line shot, so you can see how close we really were.

As I said, I finished 3rd overall and was first place in my AG and the first master runner in a time of 1:23:50, 2 minutes off the race winner Ed Cyr (who is in his 20's!).   This was just 1:50 off my half marathon PB time, but on a much tougher course, and without running a hard 8K race the night before!

2014 Waterloo Half Marathon Results

Training Peaks Race Data

Garmin Race Data

After grabbing some food and chatting with other racers and friends for a bit, I headed inside to warm up and collect my cool emergency road side assistance prize from St. John's Ambulance for winning my AG.

So with 4 races under my belt in 2014, and 4 overall podium finishes, I am pretty happy with how well my running is going at this point.   We just need things to warm up and dry out so I can start getting in some solid and consistent bike training.   Tri season is right around the corner, and I am very much excited to get it off to a good start as well!