Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Very Long Winded Race Report (Shawnigan Half IM)

So, this past weekend Jody and I travelled to Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island to do the first of four triathlons as part of the Subaru West Coast Series. Waking up early and making the ferry over to Victoria was very smooth and we had great weather all day which was nice. 

We arrived at the race site around 1:30 with ample time to get our race packages and then go out for a nice cruise ride of the course. The bike course I would say compares most accurately with the Muskoka bike course, never really going straight, and rarely flat. The only difference here is that the hills were all much smaller, typically 100 meters long and not 2-300. The road surface however, wasn't the best. No cracks and very few wholes, but it just wasn't smooth, the asphalt was almost pebbled, like the fire road after the ice breaker bridge for those of you who train in Montreal, or that crappy patch of road on the west side of UBC near Wreck beach.

We got back to the race site at about 4 just in time for the pre race meeting, at which point I changed my wheels from my training wheels to my new SPEED WEAPONRY! For those of you who don't know I got new wheels, you can see them here, or wait a little while longer and I will post some photos.

The race briefing was very standard, however, there was one tip of advice that was given that I considered. They said when coming out of the water, wait at least 15 minutes before eating. You can sip water, but nothing else for at least 15 minutes until your heart rate settles, so I thought to myself I would try this.

I forgot to buy Gatorade for the race, so after the briefing we stopped in at a convenience store to bought some. Gatorade was disgustingly expensive, and the old lady working there felt bad for me, so was trying to find me a better deal, suggesting that I buy rockstar energy drink instead because they were 2 for 3$. I kindly declined.

We stayed at one of Jody's friends parents place, which was actually on the race course, and was amazing. They made lasagna for us for dinner, and everything was perfect, I couldn't have asked for better accommodations. We slept on the floor in the basement on small foam pads over a shag carpet, and I was just as comfortable as I am in my own bed.

Race morning arrived early, I woke up to pee at 4:30 and decide that since I was getting up at 5 anyways, that I would just stay up. I got up, got into my suit and had a quick breakfast of bagels and juice. Not enough food I would say for future races.

Getting to the race site at 6:15 was fine, however, they only had 5 bathrooms for the 200 athletes (my only complaint about the weekend), so this worried me a little since at 6:15 there was already a 40 person line up.

I ignored all this, went and got my bike set up, put on my gels etc and pumped up my new tires to 160 psi, WOW!

In typical Vince fashion, I got everything set up, went to the bathroom and then went to get my wetsuit on and sure enough its 6:58 when I finally snap on my goggles. Perfect amount of time for a warmup before a 7AM start.

Got to the water, spit in my goggles to prevent fogging up (I highly suggest this to anyone who doesn't do it already, you just wipe out the spit before putting them on, and your goggles will stay clear for a full 2 hour practice) and lined myself at the front and heard the gun go off. 


The swim was cold, but there were only about 100 people in the race so it wasn't to crowded. I did a good job of leading out the front while the pros went up the right side. I managed to slowly weave over to them avoiding other swimmers until I caught on to someone swimming at a reasonable pace. It took me about 2-300 meters for my lungs and face to feel comfortable in the water, I guess this is why you should warm up, muscle and wetsuit wise everything felt pretty good. 

Open water swims are funny, since you can't really see who is behind you, all you ever see is a crowd in front of you, this results in my feeling like I'm always in last place on the swim. So I pushed really hard for the first lap (was a 2X950m swim) and got to the end of the first lap thinking I was going painfully slow to realize I was only at 14:14 as I rounded the turn, not too bad.

I swam most of the first lap alone, and then finally caught up to someone that I could get into their draft about midway thru the second lap. At this point I took a mild breather to look around and noticed I was leading a train of people behind which although doesn't make me go any faster, made me feel pretty good that there was a group who were just trying to hold on to my feet. I finished up the swim feeling strong in 29:38, a new PB! Thinking I was among the last people to exit the water, I was very pleased when I heard The Voice of Ironman Canada Steve King announce that I was in 11th place overall. I was super pumped about this because there were 4 pro's in the race and 3 athletes who were training at the National center doing only the swim bike portion, so realistically I wouldn't expect to beat any of them.

Smooth transition 7th fastest on the day, and off onto the bike. My goal was to be slow and steady on the bike. I tried the not eating for at least 15 minutes (typically I take a gel right as I get on the bike), and this was a great move, my stomach felt much better, so I suggest this to anyone racing any distance.

I'll be very quick with my recap of the bike, I started off slow and did a quick burn to see how my legs felt, they felt good, so I threw caution to the wind and started hammering. This was probably a good thing because it was a harder bike course than I had anticipated, riding it slowly saturday made me miss the difficulty of a few of the sections, and had I gone conservatively I would not have made my target. 

Nutrition on the bike was good, I tried my chocolate bar technique, went very well, however, took me too long to eat, so I decided not to have the second, instead I threw it to a kid who got very excited. 

2 hours 35 mintues and 5 gels later I finished the bike feeling good but really having to pee. I was a little concerned about how my legs would fare up, this being only my third brick run of the year, the first being the UBC tri, and second being storm the wall, neither being exactly at the same level as a half marathon. But I did have confidence that I would run strong because I've been putting in some great mileage in training. I came thru transition, and once again Steve King saying a whole slew of info on me; where I'm coming from my target times, my PB's. It was fantastic (During registration for the races they asked for a small biography, this really made for great announcing). I had a fantastic transition, despite running in the wrong direction for a few meters, came out with the 3rd fastest change. Yup, I beat a few pro's!

Onto the run, as soon as I was out of view, I stripped down to my waist (I was wearing a 1 piece, but this didn't take long at all) and watered the plants. Felling much relieved I started on a fun half marathon. The run was entirely on a crushed rock path, similar to running up mount royal. I do most of my training in the endowment lands, so trail running etc was no problem for me.

I went with the strategy of taking water and a gel at every aid station, in doing so I would eat the gel right before the next station, get water to wash it down and have a gel prepared for later. This technique worked great. 

I have two complaints about the run, first, the km markers were terrible, I kept running 3min km followed by 6 minute km (km 14 actually took me just over 8 minutes and I was probably running fastest at that point), but I've done so many races with no mileage so how can you complain if they are off a little. While running a half marathon, if you know that your at 12k, who cares if thats really 11 or 13, its all more or less the same since you should be running on feel anyways.

My second complaint is no fault of the race organizers, but I was completely alone, no one for 6 minutes ahead, and 5 minutes behind, so I had no one to push me. Only at km 12 did a girl doing the relay catch up to me. She was running 4:20's while I was running in around 5min/km and I realized I had no problem keeping up with her. So for my next race I am confident I could slim a lot of time off my run. I stayed with this girl until km 17 when she started to hammer and finally pulled away from me.

I rounded out the half marathon in 1:40:05. Again, another PB! So I was really pleased with this and a total time of 4:46:47! This is one of the first races I've done where I finished, not feeling like I was dead, but also feeling like I gave it my all. Typically I finish with the feeling that I could have pushed a lot harder, and sure I could have done that on the run, but my final 9km of the run were fast (Negative split 49 minute opening 10k, and 51 minute last 11k) so I can't really complain.

If you want to see the breakdown of the times click here.

Anyways, that was about all. Jody's race also went well. She did the sprint distance and was really pleased with her result.

I'll leave out my area's for improvement for another post, because I feel this has been far too long. But expect something big on my next run.

Today being two days later I'm feeling pretty good, but my calfs are still really tight.

Thanks for reading, hopefully you made it to this point.

And wish me luck for my next month of hard training before the Victoria Half on the 22nd.

And congrats to everyone who races either Triathlon des Iles or the Ottawa marathons this weekend.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pre Shawnigan Half Ironman

So, I just finished packing up all my stuff in preparation to leave for Vancouver Island tomorrow morning on the 11AM Ferry.

I'm feeling quite well prepared for a half this early in the season. The bike provided I keep it slow but steady (tentatively I want to ride at 33-34kph) I will finish that leg in 2:35-2:40( 88km) leaving me 1:50 for my Half marathon assuming I have a half descent swim. My tactic for this race, you may say is ridiculously stupid, however, that is just because I'm using this for a training race. I plan on being conservative for the swim and bike and just giving it my all for the run and see if it all comes crashing down on me. I will start the run at 4:30 pace (1:34:57), well below the 1:50 I'm leaving myself, but this way if I slow down, I can still break 5 hours. I'll let you know if I make it, or if this ends up being another race like the montreal half three years ago where it took me an hour to run the last 8k.

My main concern at this point about the run isn't even my legs, rather, its my feet, I haven't done a run over 16 km without developing blisters. I hope that I can make it at least this far without blisters in my flats, because if I do, then I know I can run the last 5k with medium pained feet, but if the blisters show up freakishly early like they did at the UBC tri, then I could be in for some trouble. I had no blisters at the 10k for the Sun Run, so lets keep our fingers crossed.

I'm trying two new things for this race nutrition wise. First, I will be staying away from as much Gatorade as I typically drink, trying to keep my H2O:Gatorate at 1:1, I think Gatorade after many hours may upset my stomach. I will be supplementing carbs using Power Gels instead, and the second thing I will try, which I have been doing on a few long rides lately, is having a chocolate bar. Not fancy, however, I find that I am able to consume a Mars bar, much easier than I can a gel or cliff bar. Not as good for me, but from what I've learned from all these seminars I've gone to is that, Cliff bars are great, but if you can't eat enough of them or keep them down, then they aren't doing you any good. I've seen pros eat Mars bars a few times, and I've practiced with them once or twice, so I'm confident it will go well. You never know, I may chicken out though.

Muscle wise, I'm feeling fantastic, knock on wood that no knee pain springs up, but all my joints are on track, at this point I have no excuses.

 A brief recap of my week, I mentioned Monday that I didn't believe I would do the crit on Tuesday night, well I decided, weather held off and was nice, so I might as well, get one good short speed workout in before the race. I actually felt much better this week despite having stiff legs from the stairs up from the beach, ooooh how I hate stairs (all 467 of them), however, I ran into some bad luck during the race. Three times the wheel I was following lost touch with the pack resulting in me having to chase down a quickly accelerating mini peloton. I was able to catch back up the first two times, but then the third, the gap was just to much to chase, and I got no help from the jerks sitting on my wheel. So, so far I'm 0/2 in finishing, but there were large increases in performance from my end this week, so I'm positive they will go much better in the future. Right now, they aren't the focus, so I'm not too worried.

 The rest of my week had a few easy rides and runs, I only managed to go swimming once because of pool schedules, the olympic team is doing a training camp and taking up all the great pool time. I did swim in a lane next to the current 100 Meter Freestyle World Champ though, I was almost able to keep up with him on what I overheard was an easy lap, then upon completion realized her was only doing kick... Oh well.

Anyways, wish me luck, I'm getting to bed. And I'll update when I get back.

Oh, and depending on how I enjoy this long distance stuff this year, I may do the Victoria Marathon in October. Its an idea.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Victoria Day Long Weekend Update

So, we've just finished a nice 3 day weekend and although not overly eventful, I did get some good training in. 

I'll begin this weekend with my thursday night ride, I went out for just under two hours and did laps of stanley park. I did the perimeter of the park, which is the course of the Age Group Triathlon World Champs taking place here the first week of June. This is going to be a hard bike course. I did only two laps, and the second tried to do it all out effort and was only able to hold 37.5 km/h for the 10k loop. Its the hill leading up to the lionsgate bridge that slows you down so much.

Friday was taken pretty easily, I went in for a swim in the morning, did a long pull set and then powered out a long day in lab taking it easy in preparation for Saturday's ride.

Saturday, Kevin, Facundo and I did our typical Horseshoe bay ride followed by a hard ride up Cypress. We wanted this ride to be at our half ironman pace, I was preparing for Shawnigan next weekend, Kevin for Oliver the weekend after that and Facundo for Osoyoos later in the season. This being said, we pushed pretty hard until we reached Cypress. We stopped, regrouped, had a gel or some fluids and then started to ride to the summit. My previous best time on this ascent was 51 minutes a few weeks ago with Kevin, so I really wanted to improve on that. For those of you who don't know. Cypress is a 12.5km climb with an elevation of roughly 800 meters. Well, after two water bottles and a lot of lactic acid later, I managed to get to the top in 44:50, a new PB, so I'm pumped about this. By the end of the season my goal is to break 40 minutes. Facundo followed up with a 46:20 and Kevin about a minute behind that.

Now don't think I'm gloating here, they both whooped me on the ride home, specifically Kevin who decided around km 95 that this workout hadn't been enough for him so picked up the pace into high gear around UBC and Marine Drive.

All in all, the ride was 112km, good ride for the first hot day of the year. 

Sunday I took pretty easy, just a good steady 45 minute run and rest up for the week. I had to go into lab, so I tried to manage my time as best I could and still take advantage of the nice weather. I managed to finish up early and head down to the beach which was my first time dipping my feet in the Ocean for 2008.

Today, was Victoria day, and so we had the day off, my roommate did his first triathlon and surprised everyone with his swim. A self proclaimed sinker two weeks ago pulled off a 14 minute and change 750m, a new personal best in both Time and distance!

I'm not sure how the rest of the race went, he looked strong doing it, but the results and splits aren't up yet.

To watch this race I rode my bike out, nice 50k return trip, and the weather was nice on the way out but then started to rain. This wasn't all negative news though, this was the first time this year that I have been out on a ride in the rain and not been cold. So although it was raining, the only consequence was that I got wet! This is very exciting news for me.

Well, thats all for now, the Giro is still as exciting as ever, they are hitting the big mountains this week, so I can't wait to see how that goes. 

I'm in my taper now, so only a few short rides and runs, and probably a lot more focus on swimming this week. Also, I don't think I will do the Crit tomorrow, forecast says it may rain anyways, so there is a good chance it will be cancelled.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

From yesterdays stage in the Giro d'Italia, David Millar was going to win the stage, or most likely, and his chain broke.

I would probably do the same.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Crit #2 Cancelled

So, week two was cancelled due to the rain. They have a very strict dry rule for the roads. I can't say I'm too disappointed with this outcome though. On the weekend I wiped out on some flowers and am feeling a little beaten up over it.

Ok I'll elaborate, I was riding up Dunbar at the end of my ride, and all the apple blossom petals have begun to fall and coat the streets. Coming off a stop sign I began riding and got maybe 10 feet past the intersection and was accelerating, when I hit a pile of petals the tires started to skid and I went down, leaving a nice little scab on my hip.

So the fact today was cancelled was ok, because it will give me some more time to heal without aggravating the scab with my bike shorts.

Fortunately this weekend is supposed to be amazing weather, and its the long weekend, so I will be trying to get a few big rides in before I start my taper next week for Shawnigan.

Thats all for now.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Giro Predictions

Ok, easy stuff first. 

Provided he finishes, sprint I see going to Cavendish. If he does not then I will go with Bennati. My first choice ideally would have been McEwen, however, I don't think he plans on finishing in preparation for the Tour

I think either Soler or Contador will win the KOM jersey. If contador isn't feeling it for the overall I think he will change his focus on this. 

For the overall, I don't know. I think Kloden is the favorite at the moment, but I don't want to rule out Simoni or Di Luca. I also think RRRRRRRRICARRRRDO RRRRRRICO will do something exciting, but I think he will crack before the end. Menchov will also be in the mix, but not the win.

For the young rider. I don't know their age... So who knows, but I believe CSC is focusing on Sorensen, so I will put my money on them being a good strong team. Or for a second choice maybe the youth will go to Liquigas

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Post Crit #1

So, turns out I was a little over confident.

Cat 4 is not equivalent to Div D in the ECCC (eastern collegiate cycling conference) which I raced in last year.

I feel as though I was pretty well matched as far as speed was concerned. We averaged just under 39km/h for the 25 minute race, which included what I would previously have called a gentle hill, and now is considered monstrous. My main weakness, and I knew this going in was going to be power output. I can TT (time trial) with the best of them. Put me on a bike and say go for a half hour hard and I'll lay down the hammer. Now the difference being this half hour hard would be consistent power throughout. Ideally somewhere in the 300+ watt range.

In a crit, the race is at a fast pace the whole time. But whenever we hit this hill. The power just exploded out of these guys to get up and over it. Result being, every lap I would be sitting pretty with everyone, hit the hill and then I would be that pain in the ass that let a gap of 5-10 feet open up. See, although we were riding at a steady 280 watt output, well within my range, every time we hit the hill they would up to 400+ watts, something I just can't compare to. My skinny running legs which I am blessed to have in triathlons, is the sacrifice I will have to deal with in my cycling pursuits. 

So, as would be expected, I would create this small gap and have no problem making it up on the decent to follow. That was at least until lap 8 when we had a sprint prime. Bell rings, pack starts picking up. I'm right in the mix of things, and then made one crucial mistake. Coming into the sharp right turn heading into the uphill, I pinched myself out by taking a bad angle, resulting in having to break. Just as the pack takes off. I fight my hardest. For those of you who know the course, this is heading up stadium (I peaked down midway, we were going 45kph uphill) For those of you who don't know this exact road, imagine going that speed up the steep part of the end of 16th. Its about the same. Needless to say I lost 5 feet again, and this finally was the gap I couldn't overcome. The 5 feet became 10 which became 15. Fighting on my own at the back of the pack, I managed to tag on once or twice but never long enough to recover, and never was able to stick it on the hill. Finally after about 12 laps I lost the group completely, and graciously bowed out. This wasn't so much of a DNF due to quitting, as it was due to the fact that two races are run simultaneously, a cat3 and a cat4 race. And the cat 3 race was catching up to me requiring me to slow down and move over. 

So, for the time being I will try and do some more squats and lunges, really work on leg power, because I feel that along with sprinting, this would really help me out in hill workouts as well.

All said and done, I learned a lot. Where I need to improve, what to work on. Unfortunately I didn't go through this race is great OREC style, however, at least that is something I can be sure to work on for the next race without too much trouble.

Now its off to bed for me and my tired skinny little legs in my glorious queen sized bed. I must savour this night because I'll only have the bed for one more day. The delivery guys delivered the wrong sized bed, so I'm sleeping in a queen in a double frame. Its like sleeping in a bowl...

Hope you made it this far. And that I didn't bore you. If you have any suggestions as to what I should emphasize on more in the future, or what I should leave out, then please let me know either by posting a comment or e-mailing at vlavallee@gmail.com

Finally, thanks Maya and her friend (Name Forgotten because I'm a jerk) for coming out to watch!

Brief Overview

Hey, so I figured I would start out this blog, more as something to pass the time in lab while I should be working. It will mainly consist of every day to day things that I complain about, but also a large aspect of this will be dealing with my training and races in triathlon and cycling.

So I may as well begin.

I've set out quite a tough season for myself. Currently I have 5 Half Ironman on the table, the first of which being in just over two weeks. My schedule is as follows.

May 25th Shawnigan
June 22nd Victoria
July 6th Osoyoos (Nationals)
July 13th Vancouver (one week later... YIKES!)
Sept 14th Sooke

On top of this however I have also signed up for a cycling BC license which allows me to participate in any road race I want.

I have registered as a Cat 4 racer, is this a mistake... not sure, I'm confident it won't be too hard for me, but my main concerns are that they will be too easy, and that being in a cat 4 race that there will be a lot of amateurs who don't know how to hold a line. The fear of people not being able to hold a line is mainly because I plan on racing the UBC Tuesday Night Crit series, and new riders = sketchy riders.

Tonight happens to be the first race I'm doing. At this point I know Maya is coming and I think she is getting a few others to come along with her. What's nice is that they are on campus (a little late unfortunately 7PM), and cost very little (5$ a race). And I was reading on their website that there are tons of prizes available from sponsors. So stay tuned and I'll keep you updated as to what if anything I get.

I think results will be posted here:


check it out, follow my progress.

Anyways, thats all for now. still warming up to this whole idea.

Wish me luck