Saturday, September 18, 2010

Catching Up and a short (long?) race report.

So it's been a couple of weeks since I've been able to update the blog.  Just too much going on and work has been really busy.

On Sep 12, I went for my first Half Ironman.  Rock on - it was an awesome race.  My tri history is short - 3 races in 2008, none (or training) in 2009 as we moved to NY for a year, and then 3 sprints and 1 Olympic before Ironman Muskoka 70.3 last weekend.  I had only decided to do Muskoka in mid July so my training wasn't what it needed to be for this distance.  You see, this was a buddy's 'A' race for this year and he had another buddy heading to Muskoka with him to cheer him on and he asked me if I was interested in coming along.  I said 'sure' and then 3 days later, knowing I'd be a basket case on the sidelines and not racing, I signed up.  Why not, right??

My wife ended up traveling the week before Muskoka, which meant I had to take the girls to skating twice that week, in addition to doing the school drop off and pick up runs.  It actually timed well because I did NO training that week, not that I could have if I wanted to, but the taper wasn't a was a dead stop.  There in lies the challenges managing work, multisport, and family.

We stayed at Deerhurst for the race, arrived on the Friday and were shopping at the Expo before it even officially opened.  We had great timing because Craig Alexander and Mirinda Carfrae were getting a quick bike tune and were hanging out.  One of the best elements of triathlon is that amateurs and pros participate on the same course at the same time.  Try shooting a puck with some NHLers or throwing a football at an NFL game.  Ain't gonna happen.  BUT you can shop with the best in triathlon and try and catch them on the course!

The skies were threatening on race day and in fact it did rain.  The weather was cool, which for me is great racing weather.  The energy was as amped up as you would expect for this level / calibre of race.  We were up at 5:30, ate breakfast and downed a cup of java, ticked and tied everything in the T-zone, loaded our water bottles, and were back at our condo by 6:15 am.  We took the next hour to rest up, relax, hit the can a bunch of times, and talk about our strategies.  My goal for this race was simple - finish in style and have a great time.  I did not have time expectations given this was my first HIM and I had only done 1 Olympic prior to.

It was awesome to watch the pros kick off the race.  My wave was 6 minutes later, right behind them.  Try as hard as I may, I couldn't catch them.  I wonder why....  Anyway, I had a decent swim, though some guy grabbed my calf and pulled back withing the first 200m of the start.  A couple of kicks and my foot couldn't find his face, unfortunately.  Yes folks, he pissed me off with his deliberate grab and pull and I was looking to return the favor.  36 minutes later, I found the weeds at the swim exit and bolted up stairs to the strippers.  My buddy had great timing and filmed my exit and you can see how the strippers struggled to get my wetsuit over my ankles.  Not that the few seconds mattered, of course, because we faced a 300m UPHILL run to the T-zone.  It was steep, too.

I purposely took my time in the TZ to make sure I had everything I wanted and needed for the 94km hilly ride.  I left the arm warmers and anything comfort related, though I did put on a pair of socks.  I'm glad I did because it was spitting and cool.  In the end, I didn't need the arm warmers, though I saw plenty wearing them.

Here's my general race performance profile:  top 1/3 (AG) in the swim, bottom 1/3 on the bike, and middle 1/3 on the run.  Needless to say I was passed by MANY on the bike.  That's ok, I expected it.  I know I need to get more bike mileage in and time in the saddle this winter will hopefully help.  Being my first race of this distance, I didn't push anything on the bike as I wanted to save some juice for the run.

If you've never done the Muskoka course, the first third is hilly, with a downward profile, the middle third is rolling flats, and the last third is the butt kicker.  Well, maybe not a third, but the last 20K can definitely be described as the most challenging.  Be prepared from some seriously steep grades and a propensity to gain altitude overall.  I fuelled well and often, taking in 5 gels and 2 packs of Powerbar Gel Blasts along with about 2 bottles of fluid replacement.  I sure wasn't sweating, though, given the 13 degrees and rain.  I finished the 94KM in 3:20.  Like I said, not speedy, but I got'er done.

Thanks to the super fueling on the bike and a pitstop at the portapotty at the run start, I was feeling great.  21.1 problem.  I honestly had to tell myself to be cautious and keep things in check so I didn't burn out along the way.  The run course at Muskoka carries on the brutal reality of the tough bike course.  The hills are long and some are steep (but short).  This is anything but your typical triathlon course.

The best part of the run was down the rolling Hwy 60.  Too bad the whole course wasn't like that because I had to keep myself from running close to a 5 min km.  It felt like I was flying.  All things are relative, though because for the runners out there, a 5min km would be crawling.  For me, it's a near sprint!!

Despite the hills, I felt great through 15 kms and then my left ankle started giving me a hint it was getting pissed off at the pounding.  It didn't give up on me though and kept taking the beating long enough to carry me over the finish line 2:03 later.  I'll tell you, though, the steep and long uphill at km 19 wanted to do me in, though.  Good thing the prize wasn't too far beyond that.  I remember saying to myself that it wasn't 'fair' to put such a tough hill so close to the end.  Thanks, Lisa!

I fuelled well on the run as well, with 2.5 gels consumed and pepsi at about 5 aid stations.  There is NO better feeling than crossing that finish line with the music blaring, friends supporting, and not having walked 1 step in the 70+ miles of racing.

On the blog reading front, I've managed to keep up on Training Payne's blog and found out that one of his buddies, Doru, who writes The Iron Family blog was also at Muskoka and finished about 6 minutes ahead of me.  The guy is in my age category, too!  I'll have to work hard this off season to give him a better challenge next summer.  I joked on Training Payne's blog that it would have been nice to have met Doru at Deerhurst so we could talk about Brian and his antics!

Anyway, Muskoka 70.3 completed in 6:06.

1 comment:

  1. I finally got a chance to catch up with my blog reading. Congrats on finishing your first Half-Ironman. Muskoka HIM is probably the hardest one in North America and definitely the longest one.

    My plan for next year is to qualify to Clearwater and with you in my age group, I guess that I have to get myself together and start training hard in order to maintain the gap between up :-).