Swim: 1500m @ 38min58 (includes T1; 108/126 swim rank)
Bike: 40km @ 1hr14min08 (includes T2; 59/126 bike rank)
Run: 10km @ 1hr01min (yikes! 91/126 run rank)
Placed 8/11 M35-39, 67/85 gender, 92 overall of 126
Ottawa Riverkeeper race route can be found here.
What a great day for a race - the weather held out wonderfully! We were supposed to have thunderstorms and rain all morning, but it never materialized. The humidity, however, did near the end (well near the end for me).
Going into this race, I was really curious to see how my half-iron training was progressing and I kept telling myself NOT to go for a PR. This was just supposed to be a tune-up race and a part of my training, and a key indicator on my progress and weakpoints. Happily, I found a few from each category.
I was lucky enough to get there really early since I didn't get my race kit on Friday. This allowed me to see a good portion of the sprint and super sprint races, and got to cheer on a couple guys that I knew. It also gave me a heap of time to get used to the water temperature - after being in +30C heat for a while, dropping into 19C water was a bit of a change to say the least.
Oh, speaking of my race kit - I had no business with this bib number! :)
So funny! I was laughing about this for some time, actually. But to be serious, I sort of wanted to do this number proud. Sure, I'm not gonna win this race, or my age group, or any age group, but I can still give it my all just like the #1s do. I just wanted to be smart and try to get this nutrition thing down.
Goal #1 - swim this race without a wetsuit. I think I was one of maybe 5 or 10 people that didn't use wetsuits in this race, so I kind of felt proud of that. Sure, it may have affected my swim ranking, but I really wanted to give this a go. And I nailed this down easily. Even with poor navigation (I added a few extra meters!) and lots of sighting (which wears my shoulders down) I found the swim rather easy. In fact my HR was in the aerobic range the whole way!
Goal #2 - be smart about the bike. I know that I need to keep my pace on the bike aerobic and not wear myself down for the run - especially with a half-iron tri. I knew that this was a big fault last year with my first Olympic distance, and I didn't want a repeat. The trouble is that I have too much fun on the bike, and I tend to push just a bit too hard. Now I did to this better today, but I was certainly in the lactate threshold region, with my HR sitting around 85-87% the whole way. I was dealing with the hills and wind very well, and got into a good groove very early. But I think I was still just a bit too hard during this leg. I guess that explains the near-33kph pace!
Goal #3 - don't fall apart in the run! Last year, a combination of bike pace and nutrition killed me in the run and I had a dreadful (and painful) 10k run. I really didn't want a repeat of that - and I didn't. At least not in the same level. My quick T2 left with tight muscles and legs that were still use to the higher cadence from the bike. My first 1km was a 5min20 pace - way to fast - and it wasn't long until that and the associated high HR of 90%max started to take its toll. It took a lot of mental convincing to go in 2.5km chunks, where I walked for 30-60sec to bring my HR down. I got through two of those, and then things got harder and harder. My stomach was starting to bother me (too much fluid, I think) and my HR just wouldn't drop. I added a couple extra walk breaks in there, still hoping I'd break the 3hr mark. Obviously, I did just that. But it sure as hell hurt.
Goal #4 - have fun and learn from this. I certainly did that. It was great being able to see the others off for the sprint and super-sprint races, and I really enjoyed being the visible minority without a wetsuit. I had more than one person say "You did that all with just the front crawl?!?" That was kind of cool. And the people there were very supportive, friendly and talkative. "You wait until your 60! Then you'll really feel it!" said one 60yo man, trying to help me move on the last 2km of the run. I smartly replied "You mean I'm not 60?!?" I may have felt like it, but it was nice to see someone of that age doing better than I was - it shows us that there's still lots of room to improve.
As for the learning - you bet. Here's the highlights for me:
- I need more swim sets that work on speed/strength. When I get tired, my stroke is exaggerated and my form starts to fall apart. I know this already, but I need to put some emphasis on this. I think I could have come out of the water a few places up if I could hold myself together better.
- My strongest event has become the bike in "shorter" distances. Now, rather than working on speed and strength, I need to work on pace so I can save more for the run.
- The initial shock of the water temperature triggers a tightness in my chest for a few minutes. I need to make sure I get into the water early enough before race start to get rid of this. Basically, once I'm used to the temperature, I'm good.
- My fitness has greatly improved from the half-iron training plan - in all areas.
- I still need to manage my nutrition better. I find that the more tired I get, the more I ingest, thinking it will offset the fatigue. In fact, it makes my gut more sensitive, and that's just one more thing to worry about.
- My run strength has no endurance. I could get up and run 10km right now, but it's a different story after the swim/bike stuff. I'm sure that I'll feel this hard again next weekend in Smiths Falls. To address this, I need to find a better balance between long rides, long runs and bricks (I think the majority should be the latter).
- My run endurance issues probably won't disappear in time for the half-iron, so I need a new strategy. Given the distance, I may start with running between the aid stations, and switching to a 10min/1min run/walk strategy if I need it.
And now, after my huge ingestion of Hammer products, a super-sized double Big Mac meal, a heap of supper, and some Kit Kat, it's time to hit the sack.